Bit of a short interval since the last blog. We were headed up to South Cumbria for our holidays and grabbed a chance to photograph any changes to the works on a weekday before we left.
Nothing much really appears to have happened over the past week. Though it does tend to be difficult to notice. This week's photos gives an example of this.
We caught this lorry as it took soil from the works South of the Blackwater river, over the works bridge, and trundled around the reserve to dump the stuff along the shores of Cormorant Lake. This area cannot be seen from the footpath due to all the intervening scrub.
The heavy rains of late continue to fill Cormorant lake to the point that Cormorant island has almost disappeared.
Sometimes it is hard to see what Cemex have been up to. Around Stone crusher point they appear to have done some further clean up. Because we only visit the works on the weekends we see major changes and subtle signs of clean up operations e.g. freshly churned up ground with caterpillar tracks.
I took the opportunity to take some photos of the heavy duty machinery employed by Cemex in their clean up.
As this post is photo heavy I have separated the images into two sections.
1. Manor farm taking in the Pump Station and the culvert area.
2. Fleet Hill farm
19th August 2017. Manor Farm.
More views of the ground around the Pump Station. They contrast with the gloomy photos of last week.
As usual the vehicles used in the clean up are congregated around the culvert/entrance to the site. I photographed them to show what is involved in clearing up this site.
19th August 2017 Fleet Hill farm.
Not a huge amount appears to have happened around here. Cemex may well have been working elsewhere on the site. They often do, and we tend to suddenly come across their working.
As the title of this week's post says, the conveyor has been removed from this portion of the reserve.
I didn't expect it could be removed so quickly. The ground is pretty churned up, and the whole area a bit of a mess.
As the 12th was a Saturday, and Cemex people are normally about on a Saturday, I was quite surprised to see the gates across the work bridge closed. They are normally wide open, with vehicles sometimes trundling through them over the footpath.
Nothing appeared to happen around the other areas of our walk, hence just photos around the Pump station.
Not much really appeared to happen this week. I decide to pop into the works around Manor farm crusher and the foot bridge. There weren't any signs that said keep out. They simply warned people about deep water and machinery. It was a weekend and nowt was going on.
The sun was bright and high on this day. My bridge camera fared better because of this. The photos are still a bit fuzzy at maximum zoom, but that is one curse of bridge cameras.
Because this week is so photo heavy I have split this post into four sections.
The first covers the area around the Pump Station.
The second is from the south footpath that runs along the Blackwater river.
The third is around the culvert area/entrance gate at Longwater Road.
The fourth is a little way west of the foot bridge at a heap of ballast.
6th Aug - Starting with the area around the Pump Station.
I climbed the bridge at the pump station to take a series of 360 degree shots. It is amazing how a couple of metres elevation changes the perspective of the view.
6th Aug - Now the south footpath along the Blackwater river
These next series of shots were taken as we headed west along the footpath next to the Blackwater river.
6th Aug - The area around the culvert/Longwater road entrance to the works.
The conveyor from Fleet Hill farm pops out of the culvert here, before continuing its journey across the works. There is a lot of machinery here. Dotted around are large heaps of ballast, a mixture of sand and pebbles, no doubt from the works. The ballast was quite coarse, with some quite large pebbles i.e. 60mm.
I took the opportunity to scramble to the top of one of the heaps to take photos of the area. I also hopped on to one of the large concrete 'cubes' to do same. Don't tell elf and safety or they'll have a fit!
I'm glad I did, as shortly after Cemex used spread the ballast out along the edge of the various lakes on this part of the reserve.
I never really did like this area.
6th Aug - The area a little way to the west of the foot bridge.
I was on a roll this week and decided to climb the biggest heap of ballast at the north of this part of the reserve, a little way west of the foot bridge.
The track from the foot bridge to the ballast heap had been freshly laid. I didn't realise this, and on my way back from the heap discovered that is was very, very muddy. I sank about 6 inches into wet loose mud with my new hiking boots! I immediately kept to the tracks made by trucks and bulldozers as they had compacted the soil.
Finally! The day we've been waiting for. Stone crusher has been removed from Fleet Hill farm. In some ways it is a bit sad. This rusting piece of machinery has been part of the scenery for as long as I have been aware of the works -which is not long, considering I've lived in the area for a couple of decades!
I guess it is because I used Longwater road fairly infrequently until I moved from Yateley to Finchampstead, and even then it tended to be a road to get from A to B.
Also the conveyor has been removed from along Finch pond, along with the rolls of conveyor belt. So that's why they appeared. Cemex had taken them off the conveyor.
Big surprises this week.
Firstly Stone crusher is now naked! It's outer casing has been removed revealing it's innards. You can see that gravel material and stones are loaded into the hopper. They are possibly crushed to make them smaller. And then they land on the conveyor belt for transport under Longwater road.
Secondly, dramatic changes around the kissing gate. We were always forced right at this point along a narrow footpath due to a hedgerow on our left. Cemex have widened the footpath and removed the hedgerow, so giving access to what I have been calling lower lake. Plus a new lake I have christened Swan Lake, due to the solitary swan that used to inhabit it.
Another quiet week around Stone Crusher. If Cemex did anything then it isn't obvious.
There was more activity around Manor Farm. We noticed the appearance of large rolls of conveyor belts, looking quite new. Were the existing belts worn out and were Cemex going to replace them with new belts to continue extraction?
I've also included shots of the works bridge. The view northward shows the conveyor running along side the path, and along the edge of the bridge. It continues its way to the works south of the Blackwater river. You can also see a bridge in the mid distance that goes over the conveyor. I christened this area the Pump Station as there is a pump there. It wasn't turned on.
Not much appears to have happened around Stone Crusher this week. One advantage of starting this blog after sometime after taking the photos is that I can use hindsight when creating each post. Hence making some baseline shots of the area North of Stone crusher.
I've included some shots of the conveyor belt which transports gravel from Fleet Hill farm, across Manor Farm to the Cemex works south of the river Blackwater.
We did this walk quite late in the evening, as you can tell by the low sun in the West.
This week Cemex have been busy around the shoreline of Stone Crusher lake. They having been landscaping it. Some work was done around Stone Crusher as well. Also the new bridle path has had ballast put on it to make it more consolidated.
This is where I had a shift of emphasis from 'artistic' type shots to ones which capture more fully the changes Cemex did to the works in preparation for the take over by the RSPB. I attempted to take photos from the same point. Alas, it never really worked out that way, and there were always interesting subjects to photograph.
I've switched to a slide show as I know how to add captions to them. If this works better than the gallery of the earlier blog then I shall change that one to match.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.