We (the memsahib and I) popped by Manor farm on Tuesday as we had an errand down in Yateley. Inert were, as I suspected, off doing something I didn't expect. Firstly, the bulldozer driver was busily working on the south shore of Finch pond; merrily digging up the land that he had so nicely built up and smoothed earlier in the year. Large gouges had be scrapped and pushed into Finch pond.
Secondly, a couple of contractors were hard at work strimming the chest to head high nettles and weeds on the east and north embankments; continuing the work they started a couple of weeks back.
Saturday's early morning visit showed the top of the north embankment neatly trimmed all the way to the ridge. Part of the ridge had been strimmed, but, more importantly for me, a digger had neatly formed a ramp up to the ridge. It was quite uncanny for me to stroll along any part of the north embankment without having to fighting my way through nettles and weeds, and then amble up the ramp to the ridge; rather than having to engage in some mountaineering and 'climb' up a steep slope.
Popping down for my jaunt on Thursday, we noticed that Inert had now switched to the north shore of Finch pond, and were (as expected) continuing the infill on that side of the pond. Saturday's extended visit revealed a vast amount of spoil, neatly piled up ready to either be levelled or pushed into the Finch pond.
Walking eastward along the south footpath on Tuesday and Thursday, we noticed the usual plethora of haulage lorries (underpinned by John Stacey) trundling back and forth. Reaching the works bridge, I noticed that the pump was gone again. I'm not sure exactly when this happened. I'm sure it was there on Tuesday. This did happen last year, and like last year the pump had been getting a little noisier whilst chugging away. Possibly sent off for repairs or replacement?
Needless to say, water levels in Finch pond and Cormorant lake had increased considerably. Even Cormorant lake north was looking a little soggy. Though there was the tiniest of trickle of water, if that, through the channel between Cormorant lakes north and south.
I did wander down the gravel spit, separately the two afore mentioned lakes. Curiously, the bulldozer driver appears to have simple driven down to its east end, scraping the top surface of gravel as he went. Then dumped the scrapings off the east end of the spit, before trundling back west to the ridge. Very little had actually been done.
It is all rather perplexing, but seems to be the normal modus operandi. No doubts the logic will be revealed as the weeks pass along. However, I feel the formation of the ramp up to the ridge and the cutting through the south end of the ridge do point to work commencing soon on dismantling the north embankment and ridge.
We noticed a huge amount of activity on the Hampshire side of the site on the two days we walked along the south footpath. We mainly heard rather than saw the activity.
I'm not terribly interested about this side of the site as most of it will be turned into a sporting complex. A quick squint as we crossed through the gates across the south footpath, seemed to show that the vast hole has been filled in and smoothed over. A channel that was cut last year, that lead into the Blackwater, has been deepened and widened. I did notice the tractor with water tank filling up said tank with water from a pond on the Hampshire side of the site. This small pond will form the only nature reserve part of the Hampshire site.
Before the slide shows, a very approximate view of progress. I think the new north shore, as I have drawn it, should be further south - especially on the side nearest the Longwater road. The south shore should be a tad further south. If I redraw this progress map, I might use a colour that stands out more, i.e. black or purple or bright yellow.
I'm not sure why the north and west embankments were strimmed. In particular why the top and sides of the west embankment were strimmed, but only the top of the north embankment. Also, only a small part of the ridge was strimmed. Perhaps the contractors ran out of time. Rather curious if they did as they came around on Tuesday. Then again, this is what happened when they first visited the site: they only appeared to have strimmed the west facing slope of the west ridge.
Whatever the reason for the strimming it does look as if Inert are preparing to tackle the embankments in the near future. A prediction which will probably be proved wrong.
For the first time in a couple of months, I have revisited the gravel spit. Breeding season is now pretty much over with. Many birds are beginning to migrate. Inert have started work on the area.
It has been some weeks since I've been here. Both Inert and I have kept off this part of the site to allow birds to breed in peace. My greatest surprise (last week really when a cutting was made through the ridge) was how dry the area had become, due to a combination of pumping and drought. Anyway, enjoy the scenery as it is likely to change drastically over the coming weeks and months.
Now back to the star of our show for the past few weeks. I was only half correct in sticking my neck out last week and saying that Inert would fill in the bit west of the causeway. They have, sort of, started to do this, and continue infilling the large area to the east of the causeway. What surprised me was that they worked on the south shore of Finch pond by dint of scraping off a couple of feet or so and pushing it to Finch pond. In addition, various lorry loads of soil were dumped on the area. It is just that this whole area was levelled and made smooth some weeks ago.
I do find it quite an eerie feeling walking across the reclaimed land. I have been so used to it being an expanse of water.