The various activities during this work party were distributed along the entire length from Pryces’ to Crickheath Bridges. Whilst much of the work could be described as preparatory or finishing, it was notable that the first tentative steps were taken on construction of the Phase 2 permanent works. Our luck with the weather held once more with had dry conditions for the duration.
At the start of work on Friday the remaining area of site strip was the wet area around the Hell Hole. With considerable trepidation work started with a lengthy pumping session to get rid of ground water. Subsequently the pump was in more or less continuous use to stem the ingress. Progress on the site strip was initially quite rapid but as work neared the Hell Hole a change of plan was necessary because of the discovery of multiple large tree stumps buried deep in the peat.
These were thought to be a legacy of a previous WRG excursion into the area during which an excavator became bogged down and tree stumps were used as part of the rescue effort. Eventually the stumps were removed but in doing so the ground was well and truly churned up. Even with continuous pumping and no rain this caused problems for the machines, and for a time there were real fears that history might repeat itself. Happily this was avoided and by the last day the base of the channel was clear of vegetation and work started on the treatment of the channel base down the side of the Hell Hole. This involved mixing cement into the peat at a level below the eventual finished surface of the channel. This will eventually be covered with stone to form a haul road which will double as the permanent surface of the channel base.
The majority of the volunteer effort over the weekend was at Crickheath . Work continued to burn the contents of the very large pile of accumulated tree stumps. This involved no less than four huge bonfires which by the last day had disposed of something like half the stockpile. Quite an effort!
The second task was positioning an electric cable which will provide power to the land drain pump. This proved to be a major undertaking. The cable weighed the best part of a tonne and was very difficult to unroll. Eventually a way was found using the power barrow to suspend the cable drum so as to permit unrolling and manoeuvring into position. Also at Crickheath the last section of drift newt fence was removed and the channel searched for newts.
At the other end of the site work continued over all three days to finish the earthworks on Phase 1. Additional material was added to the offside bank to bring it up to final level and the erstwhile tip site was restored to its original profile.
Finally it was a pleasure to welcome visitors from Shropshire County Council. BBC Radio Shropshire was also given an update on our activities. A busy and productive weekend!