There will be no Manor farm visit tomorrow. Inert were absent on Wednesday, working on Chandlers farm instead.
I hopped over to Fleet Hill farm to check out suspected flooding and to determine what contractors I spied a few weeks back were up to. Well...I was not disappointed with this visit, having not stomped around the site since last summer, when I photographed Dragonflies.
Flooding. Two years ago, I posted photos of 'gullies' cut into the banks of one of the lakes which bordered the Blackwater. At the time I postulated that these were cut by run off from the Blackwater. My supposition was proven correct. There was water still pouring over the strip of land separating one lake from the Blackwater, down through the gullies, over two days after storm Dennis passed over us, and nine days after storm Ciara. The flow from the Blackwater over the banks into the lake must have been quite impressive at the height of the storm. It ran for about 50m to 75m.
I'm not sure where all this flood water is going, but all the lakes were very full. In fact one, next to the Longwater road, had burst its banks. One outcome of all this high water levels, is that many of the crossing points I use to get from the southern most ponds to the middle part of Fleet Hill farm were full of water, at least three feet deep. I only had my wellies on.
The Blackwater appears to have only burst its banks on one lake, towards the west of the site. However, the water, reasonably deep, was flowing over what will be a bridle path which follows the Blackwater.
Before we move on to fencing. I noticed that the kissing gates on the north part of the site, which was across a footpath leading to Finchampstead village, has been removed. This is rather odd. It was designed to keep horses off the footpath and to prevent motorcyclists entering the reserve. The thing was only fitted two years ago. I wonder if the miniscule number of horse riders had complained about the kissing gate. Never mind that their horses churn up the footpath to make it almost impassable for walkers, and the fact they are not allowed on footpaths.
On to the fencing. The contractors have put in a whole load of fencing which delineate the public rights of way through Fleet Hill farm. I have a feeling the fencing is incomplete, especially as there are a number of paths missing e.g. the bridle path that follows the north side of the Blackwater. In fact, one of the paths which the fencing marks out leads into a field adjoining the Blackwater. Only there is no way out of the field as it has been fenced by horse owners who, I believe, have leased some of the site back from Cemex.
As the headline says, I did not visit Manor farm today. Partly as storm Dennis has been flexing his muscles (currently strong winds and slight drizzle) but mainly as Inert haven't done anything this week.
My Wednesday stomp revealed a deserted Manor farm, with all vehicles operating on Chandlers farm. Inert have done this before, and returned to Manor farm after a short hiatus.
However, bad news on the restoration front. Cemex have applied for a two/three year extension to the process: two years to extract more gravel from Chandlers farm( about 50,000 tonnes, according to an old planning application I saw on the Hampshire County Council website) and a further year to finish infill and landscaping.
What is glaring odd about this extension is that extracting gravel from Chandlers farm does not preclude restoring and landscaping Manor farm, and finishing Fleet Hill farm to spec. Indeed, I believe there is enough stuff piled up on Manor farm around Cormorant lake (south) to finish the infill of said lake, before joining it to the current Manor lake to form one large lake - as per plans.
Finch pond should really be finished off this year. There isn't much left to do; a bit more stuff to drop and the pond to be dug out proper. Then the north and west embankments and ridge can be flattened and landscaped to form a base for the northern part of the circular bridle path.
One gets the feeling that Cemex are dragging their feet on this restoration. Which I find a bit peculiar, seeing as I would expect them to want to get shot of this responsibility as soon as possible. Let's face it, the expertise of Cemex is extracting stuff not putting it back and landscaping. However, some highly paid manager, with massive stock options and pension, is making these decisions - so what do I know.
Oh, the pump was not working. Expect water levels to shoot up again.
Wednesday, although bright, sunny and cold, revealed a very quiet Manor farm. Not a vehicle was to be seen. They were all at work on Chandlers farm; thus substantiating my observation that Inert flit all over the three sites. Though now that Fleet Hill farm is virtually fully restored, the heavy plant sticks to Manor farm and Chandlers farm.
Inert had done a little bit of work on Manor farm; possibly on Monday and Tuesday. There were signs more stuff had been brought in and dumped along the the south vehicle track, just west of the bailey bridge. It is also possible that a bit more stuff was also dumped on the land mass.
What is not at doubt is that the bulldozer driver had levelled off the south vehicle track from my mighty mound to the bailey bridge. This after making such a mess of the area a week ago.
I do not think any work had been done on Manor farm since at least Tuesday. Which is a bit peculiar. Hopefully Inert will be back next week, after the mega storm. They are pretty close to having sufficient stuff piled up to fill in most if not all of Cormorant lake (south). Especially as much of the stuff on the south side of Cormorant lake needs to be dug out to form the new, enlarged Manor lake.
Oh, the pump wasn't working on Wednesday, and neither was it on today. Water levels remain commendably low, but this will change with the deluge that is due tomorrow.
Such is the combination of torrential rain fall and howling winds (gusting up to 60 mph), the Moor Green Lakes Group work party has be rescheduled for today. We're hacking down birch trees, which is not a good idea in high winds.
On this most inauspicious of days, having left the EU, do we have any joy from the restoration of Manor farm. I have to say yes, but with a degree of perplexity.
I have mentioned, on a number of occasions, that I find the restoration process a little perplexing. As an engineering type, I normally progress through a build in a reasonably linear fashion. Any detours tend to be minimal, and occur near the beginning during the initiation phase i.e. set up a series of modules, which are bolted together.
Inert, by contrast, seem to flit about Eversley quarry, performing seemingly random tasks. Granted, over the past year or so they have settled down somewhat. Firstly by filling in Finch pond, and latterly concentrating on the south and east shores of Cormorant lake (south). However, even here there have been the odd excursions over to the ridge and Cormorant lake's east mud flats.
Thus it was, that this morning, I found that Inert had dug a dirty great hole in the vehicle track, halfway between the copse and the sewage works. It's a sizeable hole, and appeared quite deep. To my untrained eyes, it is a completely random hole, dug in the middle of nowhere, on a vehicle track that has been worked over and driven over for years. I don't remember seeing the hole on Wednesday. How strange.
My Wednesday stomp revealed two diggers aiding and abetting the bulldozer. Again, I am perplexed as to the variation in resources deployed on the site. Of course, this might simply be due to the number of tipper and grab loader lorries available for hire on any given day. My brief, Wednesday stomp does not give the whole picture of what goes on during the week, especially as my walk seems to coincide with a tea break.
Anyway, one digger was merrily at work on the north west shore of Cormorant lake (south), merrily shovelling stuff into it. The stuff was delivered by the heavy earth mover, which was not adding to its considerable pile of stuff on the land mass. The heavy earth mover reversed down my nice new rubble track (well, that's what I call it), but appeared to be tearing it up. The ground is still quite sodden.
There were signs that some ordinary haulage lorries may have dropped stuff as well. It was difficult to tell with the mud being what is was.
The second digger appeared to be working on the south vehicle track, the one I photographed last week with the dirty great ruts in it. Well, if it was repairing the ruts it didn't do a good job of it. The entire track was rutted by my Saturday stomp. The whole area needs a good dose of heavy duty hardcore; made up of concrete and bricks.
Our bulldozer driver was working on the south east corner of Cormorant lake (south), as he has done so for the past few months. Only this time he appears to have churned up the vehicle track as well. This might be intentional. The south vehicle track almost follows the new south shore of Manor lake when it is joined with what is left of Cormorant lake. Therefore churning it up is simply establishing the new south shore of Manor lake when it is joined with Cormorant lake (south). The map shows the approximate path of the south vehicle track and how it impinges on the new shore of Manor lake.
However, I have made such assertions before only to be completely and utterly wrong. Watch as Inert proceed to smooth and restore the vehicle track in the coming weeks.
Moving swiftly on. A vehicle appears to have crashed into the east gate across the footpath next to the bailey bridge. It's put a nice dent in the gate. However, this appears to have been a fortuitous accident. Walkers can easily squeeze past the gate without having to open and close it. You will not believe the number of people who are incapable of closing a gate. Many's a weekend I find one or both gates half open. I can't work out who is doing this: walkers, cyclists (who shouldn't actually be on the footpath) or both.
Our stalwart of a pump was inert, both on Wednesday and today. Not a good move, I feel. It has been raining, and more of the stuff is predicted in the coming week, if not weeks.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.