Bit of a treat for you this week, dear reader. I walked over the Fleet Hill farm section of the reserve on Friday morning, after a spot of ghastly Christmas shopping first thing. I was surprised how many ponds and lakes there are on this section of the reserve. Cemex have largely finished heavy earth moving works on Fleet Hill farm. They just have planting of reed beds and other cosmetic landscaping to do.
As with parts of Manor farm, some of the terrain here is not for the faint hearted. It is boggy in places, the ground is very uneven with much tussock, hummock and bracken. Nothing a fell or moor walker wouldn't take in their stride.
I walked around the south edge of Fleet Hill farm, but gave up about 400m shy of the actual farm itself. Partly as the terrain got distinct tough going (lots of brambles and shrubby trees), but mainly as it had started snowing. The stuff came in horizontally, borne by a stiff wind, and it was cold. Still this part of the reserve is large and quite beautiful.
Early Saturday morning, saw me returning to the reserve. It was 7:45 am, the temperature registered -3.5 degrees centigrade, but unlike Friday there was no wind. It actually felt warmer than Friday, even though the temperature was six degrees lower - no wind chill. An hour later, on my way back home, the temperature had climbed to -2.5 degrees centigrade.
I had to wear wellies today as I was placing a trail cam on a fallen tree in the Blackwater river. Hence the frozen toes. Plus, it ain't much fun walking on frozen ground which had been torn up by bulldozers and heavy plant; the soles of wellies have no padding.
However, this early in the day and with the weather sunny and breathlessly still, the reserve is quite magical.
Anyway, enough of the boring stuff. Cemex have been working around the Longwater road/culvert entrance and on the land mass by the Yellow bridge. They have started to fill in some of the smaller ponds close to the south footpath. They also appear to be filling in parts of Finch pond and Cormorant Lake. I feel it would be shame if they fill them in too much. On the other hand, if does offer a diverse habitat as there are plenty of sizeable lakes on the Fleet Hill farm and Moor Green lakes parts of the reserve.
A lot of earth has been moved around the site, and it looks like inert soil has been trucked in from other parts of the reserve. There is the huge embankments that could be used. I am not sure if they are to be left. It would give great views of the reserve.
My 'white' jetty is disappearing under an overcoat of inert soil. I think I was also correct about chalky outcrops - despite what the geological map I posted said. I took a careful look at the ground and the white stuff is definitely chalk. I don't think it's limestone, it looks too fine and white. Of course, Cemex might have brought the stuff in for some reason, but I am not sure of that. The area is a bit of a mess, geologically speaking. Lots of rivers and lakes, and geological epochs have all contributed to stirring the area up.
They've also moved one of the concrete cubes. I'm sure they just like playing with them!
Anyway, this is a quick update. I shall load the photos during the day, when I have time. It is another busy weekend, with much to do.
Manor farm, Friday 8th December.
I think this is probably it for the pump for some time now. It wasn't pumping today, and has not done so for some weeks. Consequently water levels are getting quite high now in the various lakes.
Cemex have been exceedingly busy this last week. As I started my walk at about 10:30am I was able to get photos of the bulldozer working away to fill in a small pond close to the south footpath and the yellow bridge. When I returned this way two hours later the driver was parked up at the Longwater road entrance, facing Finch pond to have his lunch. What a place to work, eh, with all the lovely views.
Cemex have been very active around the Longwater road/culvert entrance and the land mass. There has been a lot of heavy plant moving around, while the bulldozer has been particularly active. A small pond has begun to be filled in, whilst the ground has been torn up as the dozer has moved soil around.
I think some of Cormorant lake has been filled in around the edges, and it is possible that more of the west shoreline of Finch pond has similarly been extended eastwards. My 'white jetty' begins to disappear under a covering of inert top soil.
As I surmised last week, the end (or start depending on your perspective) of the new stream bed is at the yellow bridge.
All the pools of water lying in the various tyre ruts were frozen, as were parts of the lakes. Naturally I couldn't resist stomping through the pools breaking up the ice. This simply contributed to my toes getting even colder, with resultant lose of feeling in them. Well, that's what you get for behaving like a little boy. :-)
I never photographed much of the Fleet Hill farm section of the reserve. Most of the restoration had been completed by the time I even knew of this part. All the action was taking place near the culvert.
Although I was on a mission to place a trail cam, I did take the opportunity to photograph this part of the reserve before Cemex return to add the finishing touches.
As I remarked earlier, the going was good to rough, and hopefully some of the photos convey how uneven the terrain is. The photos partially capture the weather. Starting bright and sunny, with the cloud building over the course of an hour, before dumping a whole load of snow on me.
My route round this part of the reserve is clockwise. Starting at the culvert entrance, I walked to the southern edge of this reserve, then struck out west hugging the southern edge as much as possible. Roughly three quarters of the way around the reserve, it began to snow and the going got really rough, with plenty of close scrubby growth. I abandoned following the southern edge of the reserve and headed north. Some of the photos at this point include Fleet hill farm proper - which is still a working farm.
Weaving between the ponds and crossing a couple of streams, I sort of followed the northern edge of the reserve east back to the wooden footbridge, then followed the north edge of stone crusher lake, before hopping over a fence on the Longwater road, crossing back into Manor farm, and walking round it to the Moor Green Lakes car park.
The Fleet Hill farm section of this reserve is long and thin, but of highly variable width. It is covered in loads of ponds.
A big problem with the slide show is providing context to where I am standing to take the photos. There aren't any obvious landmarks, unlike most of Manor farm and the east side of this reserve. One view of a lake and scrubby ground looks pretty much like another view of lake and scrubby ground. Just enjoy the photos and think of the reserve fully landscaped and full of wildlife.