Week ending February 1st
It’s good to see that we’re finally getting back to our usual volunteer numbers, in spite of the cold weather. On Wednesday we had a good concreting session at Lock 26, made more satisfying by getting the cement at a bargain price ( £2 per bag instead of nearly £5!) There isn’t a bottomless pit of money and we try to make the best of it, which is one of the reasons we mix our own concrete whenever possible, rather than buying ready-mix.
On Saturday and Sunday the prospect of hard night-time frosts decided us against concreting, so we trooped off to the new site at Summerhill and made excellent progress clearing invasive trees and undergrowth from what rapidly became a recognisable canal channel. By the end of the week we’d cleared about 100 yards of track, a great result from a gang equipped with a single chainsaw, hand tools and loads of enthusiasm. I’ve said it before, but I don’t think any other restoration project can have such a fine band of volunteers.
Total volunteer hours: 127 by 15 volunteers
Week ending February 8th
A very short report this week, but one which belies the great progress made by the lads and girls at Summerhill. Although the contractors have made a wonderful job of clearing the site around the aqueduct and culvert area, they’ve done so with the aid of powerful specialised machinery. Down by “The Boat”we’ve made big advances with minimal equipment; by the end of the week we’d cleared the channel all the way past the old wharf and are now clear of the wooded offside bank and out into a more exposed section. Those of you with a copy of “Cut both ways” can picture it from the aerial photograph; we’re past the sharp right bend in the woods and roughly where the centre fold of the page cuts through the picture. Everyone has put in a great effort but we still have a long way to go, and every day’s progress gives a longer trek to and from the car park.
I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I’m off to not-so-sunny Spain for a week, leaving the job in Hugh’s capable hands. I expect to see it finished when I return!
Total volunteer hours: 171 by 21 volunteers
Week ending February 15th
While terry is off on holiday Hugh Millington is kindly standing in.
The week has been spent entirely on the new works at Summerhill on the section between the Boat and the aqueduct. A good turnout on all three days and the weather was kind to us. Many yards of brush and mature tree were removed from the original towpath and canal trench. It is now easy to see the line the canal took.
Some volunteers were cutting down trees, some were cutting these (the trees) up into manageable sizes, and some were feeding up to as many as three fires. Hard, hot and relentless work. A welcome lunch time break at the Boat Inn made the day.
The weeks progress has been quite remarkable but there still a lot to do, so 'see you later' down the cut next week.
Total volunteer hours: 165 by 18 volunteers
Week ending February 22nd
I should go on holiday more often! I returned to work on Wednesday and was amazed to see the progress made in my absence under Hugh’s leadership. The gang had felled and cleared the towpath all the way up the quarry, leaving only a short stretch, mainly dense scrub, to clear before joining up with the section cleared by the contractors. On Wednesday and Saturday we made further inroads into this, as well as getting rid of lots of the brash left in the canal bed, but persistent rain on Sunday brought an early end to our efforts.
On the other side of the toll road Peter assembled another small gang to remove the old hedge and erect a boundary fence to delineate our land. The next step is to plant several hundred new whips of mixed hedging to replace the old hedge.
As always, when there’s a big job and a tight schedule, the lads and lasses have responded magnificently, as the volunteer hours and numbers show. Thanks again to everyone for their great efforts.
Total volunteer hours: 202 by 26 volunteers
The best radio-controlled toy ever!
Stump busters Tonks Tree Services in action - click for video
Numerous trees have been cut down but many more will be planted.
Canal line is now passable from the Boat Inn (centre left) down to the Aqueduct (left)
Terry feeds the flames