There is heavy snowfall, today. Some 3" (75mm) fell in 1 1/2 hours. We know as we walked in it from when snowfall started to when it ended. In contrast, we had an all day deluge last Wednesday. I didn't bother going to Manor farm. Instead, I went late Thursday morning.
Unsurprisingly, the Blackwater river was running high. Not bank full or flooding, but still high and fast. By contrast, Finch pond was relatively empty, which was surprising as the land bridge is still in place. I wonder if Inert have installed a pipe underneath the bridge?
My Thursday stomp revealed on the bulldozer; no trucks or diggers. The bulldozer driver had parked in the middle of the landmass, partially hidden by piles of spoil that were higher than the bulldozer is tall. He didn't move for the 15 minutes or so I walked along the south footpath. Probably tea break time.
I did pay Saturday visit. It was only minus 2C, with no wind, but lots of cloud, sadly. When viewed from the ridge, the land mass showed little change. Hardly surprising.
I had to detour in a large semi-circle to get around Fleet pond and the deep drainage ditches. The going was quite firm, despite the amount of rain we've been having. I guess the ground is settling and compacting.
Only when I went just past the copse on the south vehicle track did underfoot conditions get really tricky. The bulldozer had been working on the track a couple of weeks back, and I had hoped all the runny mud had been scrapped off it. Well, yes in certain bits, but no in others, where the mud had been made even deeper.
I inched eastward along one section, my foot scrunching through the frozen surface, only to slide into thick, gooey porridge like mud. However, I gave up after 10m, and retraced my steps westward, before making it to the relatively secure bank running along the south footpath. I clambered along this until I made it to the vehicle track running on the land mass.
This track was very firm. And well it should be, as there is tons of hardcore and rubble underpinning it. What I did find surprising was how firm the soil was once I came off the vehicle track. Freshly bulldozed spoil is normally quite soft - even more so as the bulldozer has particularly wide tracks, so spreading its load.
Last week, I attempted to photograph a 'chasm' the digger had dug to get to the north shore of Cormorant lake (south). Although I knew it was deep, I didn't appreciate how deep until I photographed it this weekend. It appears almost as deep as our house is up to the eaves, say 7 to 10 metres. It also appears to serve as a drainage ditch, which might explain why the land mass was not as boggy as I feared it would be. There are at least two drainage ditches on the land mass, that I know of.
I made it quite close to the north shore of Cormorant lake (south), but was unable to get close enough to see if spoil had been pushed into the lake to make full contact with the gravel spit. The huge bank of spoil, marking the extent of the bulldozing, was far to soft to clamber on. When I reviewed my photos, which I had taken of this area from the ridge, I did notice a pipe I had never seen before. This will bear out further investigation the next weekend I make it to the site. Though I will have to go all round the north embankment, then down the east ridge to get to this area.
I then made my way back south and then east on the land mass. I got to the edge of the latest piece of bulldozing. I think a large amount of spoil had been bulldozed into the west shore of Cormorant lake (south) this past week. The west and east shores are now very close together, to the point that I am perplexed why the infill is not progressing faster.
You see, the land mass is currently much higher than the existing height of the land on the east side of Cormorant lake. This, coupled with the fact that Inert will have to dig out a long thin length of land to form the new, elongated Manor lake, leads me to conclude that there is enough spoil currently on the Manor farm to complete the infill and landscaping of this area.
Of course, this is my very amateur estimation. There may not be sufficient spoil, and there may well be other technical reasons for the slow progress.
Oh, our faithful pump was chugging away.
Inert have been busy. Land bridge back. Infill progressing north. Spoil heaps growing. 17th January 2021
Salutations on this first blog of 2021. Hope is in the air. Biden will be president in three days time, despite the attempted coup on the 6th Jan. Covid-19 vaccine rollout going slowly, due to PHE's unambitious plan, but picking up. Lockdown bowling along until end of February. Inert working steadily on Manor farm.
I paid a site visit, early on Friday morning. A digger was working far on the north shore of Cormorant lake (south), and appeared to be pushing stuff into the lake. At times the digger was hidden behind huge piles of spoil.
Our bulldozer driver was pootling along the south vehicle track, pushing watery mud around. I spotted two lorries, good old John Stacy vehicles, making their way gingerly along the south vehicle track.
This week, the bulldozer driver told them not to reverse 75 to 100m up the land mass, but instead to drop their loads at the south end of the land mass track. The bulldozer driver then pushed the spoil some 75 to 100m northward on to the land mass. Very sensible, considering the amount of rain we are still getting, though not as bad as before Christmas.
I paid a visit to Manor farm, early Sunday morning. I eschewed a Saturday visit as we had snow and yet more rain on Saturday morning.
Having seen the wave of mud being pushed by the dozer blade on Wednesday, and the amount of standing water on the site, I decided to not walk along the south vehicle path or go on the land mass - with its quagmires. Instead I decided to walk straight to the ridge and gravel spit to see what the digger had been up to.
Was I in for a surprise. Firstly, the pump has been running, which means water levels were low. I did notice this on Friday, and could hear the pump wheezing away. However, I don't think it was running on Sunday.
Secondly, I realised that Inert have been working on Cormorant lake (north). At some point in the last two months (actually, probably this year), a digger has cut drainage channel into the infill of Cormorant lake (north). It runs along the lake's western edge, and joins up with the drainage channel between Finch pond and Cormorant lake (south). The upshot of this channel is that I could not get to the gravel spit.
Thirdly, the land bridge is back. Which is how, I reckon, a digger got to Cormorant lake (north). With the land bridge in place it does mean water can't drain into Cormorant lake (south), well, not unless Inert have put a big pipe under the land bridge's soil.
Thwarted in my attempts to get to the gravel spit, I chose to walk along the central north embankment (noting loads of animal paths through the bracken - normally fox, deer, rabbit and badger), and then to the end of the east ridge. I even ventured onto one of the mud flats (very carefully and gingerly) and was moderately surprised to discover the ground was relatively firm.
It was difficult to see what the digger had been up to. It was using its shovel to push/smooth spoil, from what I could see on Friday. The north shoreline has been flattened. Before Christmas the shore was basically a cliff, a vertical bank some 8m high.
Now, I did notice that a bit of the land mass was now in contact with the gravel spit, but I seem to remember this was the situation last year.
It is nice to see that Inert are continuing restoration during lockdown. It's pretty safe for the plant operators. They sit in their air conditioned cabs, isolated from each other, and can either communicate via radio or by shouting to each other across several metres of fresh air. Long may this continue.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.