What a difference a month makes!
All of a sudden there is a long section of lined channel to admire, and full-height banks are re-appearing in the section of channel near the solar farm. And when not changing the appearance of the site doing these tasks, volunteers got stuck into a variety of other tasks in a number of locations. All of this was aided by six completely dry working days.
The big effort on the lining/blocking was during the first work party. Fourteen society volunteers were reinforced on the Friday by seven volunteers from Arcadis, the consultants responsible for the ground engineering on the project. Our visitors worked extremely hard and cheerfully joined in the spirit of the work party. The combined effort resulted in a total of 65 metres of channel in the middle section being finished. The society has considerable experience of channel lining/blocking and it shows! The presence of the two essentials of successful lining/blocking – an accurately shaped channel and all of the sheet materials pre-cut and to hand – ensured that the job was done by close of play on Saturday.
The bank construction work was in the section of channel adjacent to the solar farm. During the first weekend the effort concentrated on raising the towpath side to full height and adding a stone surcharge. Subsequently extra material was added to form the finished profile and final shaping started. The latter is about 50% complete. The second work party saw the start of work to form the offside bank. This work will, variously, involve building over the former Hell Hole, building a bank in an area where its predecessor had been lost to subsidence, and reducing the width of the very wide section of channel. The quantities of fill required for this work are such that it will be necessary to import material for this purpose.
A number of volunteers had a trip during the second weekend to spruce up the newt ponds at Redwith under the direction of our ecologist. Also a start was made on the annual clearance of vegetation, this time on the banks of the Phase 1 section. Finally a very successful open day was organised to show local residents the works on Phase 2. The opportunity was also taken to explain future restoration plans and to answer questions.