Summerhill - Aqueduct to the Boat Inn.
This month has seen dramatic improvements to the Summerhill stretch of canal. Work began with us identifying the line of the old towpath at the Boat Inn end and the embankment was scraped down and the hedge was trimmed. A huge amount of vegetation was dragged along by the work party volunteers and burnt. Sixty years of build up had to be dug out in order to clear the way for the towpath to be brought through. The only major obstacle was a 60 year old well established oak tree, that had decided to grow in the centre of the old path. After a bit of thinking, between me and PB we decided to keep it as a feature and remodel the line of the towpath around it.
Our invaluable digger driver, Tony G got his little digger and re-contoured the bank with a curve and ramp to leave the tree sitting pretty. This has attracted a lot of positive comments for people who have seen it. We also constructed a ramp down from our gate next to the pub allowing us to get deliveries at that end and a kissing gate was completed.
While our volunteers worked tirelessly, at one end we had two weeks of Jaguar Land Rover corporate volunteers bringing the part built Heritage Towpath from the Aqueduct side towards the Boat. Work progressed well with the help of some special machinery to move materials in to place. In short the path was progressed to the side of the pub, an achievement by all those involved.
The London WRG group gave us a weekend of work and while helping with many tasks, notably started to clear and rebuild the brickwork at the old Sand Wharf. They worked relentlessly through the pouring rain that turned the clay at the bottom of the canal channel into a quagmire. This caused a major obstacle for the plant machinery and the big digger lost its track several times.
The Heritage Towpath has now been progressed all the way to the Boat Inn with only a few meters of work left to do. Its also worth a thank you to Liam at the Boat Inn for his interest and support of our work. Not only have we left our muddy prints on his floor, he also gave us food on a very wet day and unrestricted access to his land next to the canal. I will continue to post regular updates to show the work completed and the planned work. This next few weeks will see a set of steps from the embankment down to the towpath. These will be affectionately named 'Dora's Steps'.
We will after completion of the towpath then be landscaping in preparation of planting a multitude of plants. The offside embankment will also receive attention and hopefully by the end of the year we will have a showcase attraction for all to visit and enjoy. There is a real air of positivity and achievement at Summerhill, but none of this would have been possible without the endeavours of a special band of dedicated people who made it happen. This only goes to show that our most valuable asset is the people, I like to call 'Doers', whether it be with a spade, pen or telephone. We have started to make a blurry vision of what could be in to a focused and clear reality. If your are inspired then come and help and be part of making something great.
Island House, Moor Road
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