Yes folks, with no pumping for a couple of weeks, the water levels in the lakes on Manor farm have risen to the point where Cormorant island has returned. No signs of the cormorants though.
A mid morning walk on a cold, grey, dank Saturday morning - well muffled up against the Arctic chill - I set off. Contrary to what the Met office told me, the day got darker as my walk progressed and then drizzle fell near the end. I had to protect my camera.
Today I eschewed my normal walk along the south footpath. Instead I walked from the pump station to the Longwater road entrance, along the south shores of Cormorant lake and Finch pond, taking a short excursion into what I call the land mass; a large expanse of land between the two lakes.
I discovered that what I have been calling the copse appears to be the original course of the Colebrook stream, complete with wooden bridge. Also that the yellow bridge is actually a road bridge, not a foot bridge as I had assumed up until now. One reason for this miss identification is that the yell bridge is largely hidden from the south footpath by a soil bank.
Yet another discovery was that Cemex had dug a new stream bed - I guess for the Colebrook to flow along again. I think that Cemex cut this stream bed some weeks ago. We can't actually see the stream bed from the south footpath, partly as it is below soil level but mainly as the spoil was heaped along it's edge; so obscuring it.
A final discovery was that the 'concrete' cube have sides of 1.8m or 6' in old money. I thought they might have only been a mere 1.5m, 5' to us oldies.
Otherwise Cemex appear to have worked along the entire length of Manor farm along it's north west, west and southern edges stretching from the Longwater road/culvert entrance to the pump station and the area south of the River Blackwater.
I have come to the conclusion that Cemex are burying a lot of the industrial rubble on site. I could be completely wrong, and that much of it is scraped off, loaded into trucks and hauled off site - which would explain the compacted road tracks. However, much of the rubble seems to be bulldozed into the ground. It's all fairly inert, but may explain why sometimes in gardens of houses I've lived in I dig up all sorts of waste.
Once again this post is picture heavy, and the slideshows have been split into separate sections.
We kick off with the area surrounding the works bridge and pump station
The enormous hill south of the Blackwater river just keeps growing. Cemex have even brought in a mobile conveyor to stack the soil and ballast every higher.
There is much evidence of heavy machinery passing over the works bridge. I like the huge tyres being used to edge the road track.
As usual (when Cemex are not working on the site) I walked down to the pump station. In a change I didn't return to the south footpath. Instead I continued westward along the south shore of Cormorant lake and then of Finch pond. Taking a slight detour to check out the large land area between the two bodies of water.
Our itinerary now takes us to the area around the yellow bridge and a little way onto the land mass.
A short distance from the west edge of Cormorant lake brings me to the yellow bridge. This is the first time I have seen it up close. Most of this area is hidden from the south footpath by a large bank of earth. The poor thing is looking a bit battered.
The google view of the 'land mass' reminds me of a dried up delta, with the rivulets marked by ridge of soil. In reality the area between Finch pond and Cormorant lake looks like a post apocalyptic industrial landscape or, if you like, the surface of the moon. Although it looks blasted and horrible, especially with the weather closing in, it is, if correctly managed quite a useful asset. Some species (e.g. Willow tit) would thrive in such a landscape if it were allowed to go all scrubby; rather than being manicured and verdant green.
We now take a brief detour on to the 'Land mass'
Well, not strictly true as the previous slideshow has photos of this area. I didn't wander too much over this area, mainly as there wasn't much to see. I did trek up to the channel that joins Finch pond with Cormorant lake, then strolled over to what I have been calling the copse.
I did take this opportunity to takes shots of views not seen before. It is difficult to tell when Cemex last worked on this bit. I am convinced they have cleared bits of vegetation, but it doesn't quite square with the google earth images taken in 2017. I think it is imagination combined with vegetation dying back around the south footpath.
Our brief detour now takes us to the copse - which isn't really a copse.
I've been calling this next area we visit the copse. From the south footpath and Longwater road entrance it looks like a copse. Today I discovered that it is actually the course of a stream - I believe the Colnbrook which was diverted when gravel extraction began. It might explain why this tiny bit of wood still exists i.e. part of the planning application conditions.
Today, it is a dry stream bed, about a metre or so above the lake levels. The stream itself looks as if it was as much as 2' (60cm for youngsters) deep.
Back to our normal route along Finch pond south.
To be honest, there isn't really much I can say about the next set of photos. Simply that it offers views of the south shoreline of Finch pond that I have never taken before, as I've tended to stick to the south footpath. It really is here to serve as a record of the happenings.
By now, dear reader, it was drizzling. That light sort of drizzle that doesn't seem like much, but gets into everything. I had forgotten to bring a pedal bin liner, and had to use my beanie hat to protect my DLSR. Fear not, dear reader, my head did not get too wet and cold (it was only 5 degrees centigrade) as my coat has a built in hood.
'New' stream bed: Cemex get creative.
As we have always tended to stick to the south footpath we never realised that Cemex had cut this stream bed - presumably to reinstate the approximate course of the Colnbrook. The placing of the spoil along the edges of the stream simply hid it from view.
Signs are it was cut some weeks back, when I first posted a blog entry noting that some form of work had taken place. I had to back track my route a bit to begin the photo sequence and capture views from points I had walked past.
I'm not sure if Cemex messed with the geology around here, but the soil looks distinctly calcareous. Basically your chalk or limestone. The whole area has hard water, and there are out crops of limestone. However, geologically speaking the whole area is a bit of a mess, with much mixing of clay, sandstone, old river and lake beds, sands, etc. I have areas of clay immediately abutting sand/gravel in my garden - not man made either.
Finally: The Longwater road/culvert entrance and north embankment.
There are definitely signs overall that Cemex have been working around this area. Some quite definite (i.e. scrapped top soil from the north embankment), others not so obvious i.e. one bit of churned up ground looks pretty much the same from one week to the next.
The only give away are the large number of new caterpillar tracks criss-crossing the area. Plus the appearance of the bulldozer.
I did notice that much of the rubble I photographed last week has disappeared. If I was being cynical I'd say it was bulldozed into the ground. On the other hand, the obvious signs of a large amount of lorry traffic and much signs of soil scraping by bulldozer blade suggests that it was carted off.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.