I feel that Inert were able to hire a whole load of tipper and grab loader lorries, this past week. The upfill of what was Finch pond appears to have accelerated, making a huge jump further south. At this rate, they will be past the Longwater road entrance by the end of next week.
Dare I say, in fear of being proven wrong yet again, that Inert will complete the upfill by the end of October? Nah, don't be silly. Inert will simply flit to another part of the site.
Contractors have started felling trees around the eastern section of the north embankment. I did wonder what would happen to these trees i.e. would they be bulldozed flat. They are mostly Birch, and quite mature. I reckon they germinated not long after Cemex created the embankments; by scraping top soil off the area to get at the underlying gravel.
There were numerous extensions to the quarrying operations e.g. Fleet Hill farm. This allowed these trees to grow over two if not three decades.
It's a shame the trees have gone, they do give a wonderful backdrop to the area, especially their vivid colours in autumn. They are also very good for the environment and wildlife. However, they did have to go.
I will also mourn the lose of the north embankment. It's height gave a wonderful view of the site, and put the whole area into a different perspective. It was also brilliant for Bird in Flight viewing and photography. Birds will, generally, fly east-west parallel along the length of Moor Green Lakes, Manor farm and Fleet Hill farm; often at the same height as the north embankment.
It is supposed to rain over the next week. As usual, the BBC and Met Office weather reports differ as the the amount and frequency of rainfall in this area. They often get it wrong. What rain we may or may not get should not affect ground conditions to any great extent. It has been so dry of late, the ground is rock hard. The only slight snag with rain is that it makes the surface of the chalk land bridges a little bit slippery. No problems for a lorry or human, come to that.
The main issue for lorries is the south vehicle track. As I've mention numerous times, this gets pounded by lorry wheels, producing a fine silt which flows into ruts (up to three feet deep) forming pools of mud the consistency of quicksand. I should know, having sunk up to my knees in the stuff or having to make big detours to avoid these quicksand pools.
Will the rate of progress continue or will it stall, as has happened so often? Tune in, next week, for the latest, mildly thrilling, installment of this saga.
As the headline says, Inert have made a fair amount of progress in upfilling what was Finch pond. They are upfilling in strips, running east-west. The strips are some 100m long; possibly longer. I reckon they have managed at least a further strip of at least 30m.
Assuming the upfill depth is about 60cm (2 feet in old money), then this equates to approximately 3000 cubic metres of spoil; or roughly 3000 tons. If each lorry carries 18 tons of stuff, then we had approximately 166 lorry movements last week: 33 per day or roughly 4 an hour.
This seems very low to me, as I reckon each lorry can manage two to four trips an hour. I may have either underestimated how much upfill there has been or how much each lorry can carry or how long the lorries work for and whether the restoration of Manor farm takes all Inert's efforts.
In my defense, I have noticed occasions, when I have done a mid week visit, when the bulldozer is inactive for long periods i.e. 20 to 20 minutes.
Any way, at current rate of progress, and assuming that all of what was Finch pond will be up lifted (bar the new ponds) then I reckon between 6 to 8 weeks to complete this task.
Now, I have been lazy of late, and not wandered all over the site to see what Inert are up to. Silly, as I do know they flit around. However, even from the ridge, I can see that the mighty mound next to the pump station is getting smaller. I can only assume that the spoil being dumped on what was Finch pond comes, in part, from this mound.
I can't even tell if the pump is pumping, as I didn't wander over to what is left of Cormorant lake (south).
The ground conditions are currently very hard. Some rain is forecast for tomorrow, but this shouldn't affect ground solidity much. Next week, however, sees a potential for lots of rain showers, which might make conditions a little soft. This will slow restoration down, sigh. The only mitigating circumstance is that the ground is now so dry, any rain will simply soak away. We'll see.
Drainage ditch for Cormorant lake (north). Upfill continues; will it be same level as Longwater road? 10th September 2021
Yes, it is a Friday. I've actually been visiting the site after 16:00 on Friday's, as that is approximately when Inert knocks off. Fair dues, they start very early, and it is normal in the construction and manufacturing industry.
I'll have to return to weekend morning visits as autumn approaches and the clock go back.
Inert have finally got around to providing Cormorant lake (north) with a drainage ditch. Its waters can now drain into what is left of Cormorant lake (south), and then wend its way to the pump. Only the pump is currently off, as all action is concentrated way over near Longwater road. I did mention, in an earlier blog post, that the upfill of this area should not have joined up with the east ridge and 'grasslands'. Cormorant lake (north) needed a drainage ditch.
Oh, technically, water is draining the wrong way from Cormorant lake (north). It should head west, not east. This will, no doubt, be rectified, once the upfill of what was Finch pond is complete.
As for this upfill, as I call it. Inert have now taken the strip closest to the north embankment all the way across to the western embankment, then turned a corner to head south for a bit. They have then embarked on a second strip, over doubling the width of the first strip.
I will repeat that I am quite surprised at how much upfill is being carried out; some 18 to 24 inches (48 to 60cm). I thought this whole area was more or less complete.
Judging by the depth of upfill, I think it will take what was Finch pond up to the same level as the Longwater road. I did mention in a blog posting a long time ago, that I thought this whole area had to be lifted by this amount to avoid flooding. I did have to pick my way carefully along side the western embankment, avoiding deeper water by sticking to ridges pushed up by bulldozers. Even the, the water was wellington deep!
Will Inert complete the upfill of what was Finch pond by the end of October, given that the plan is to upfill the whole area? Possibly. I say October, as Inert still have Cormorant lake (south) to complete by the end of this year, as well as forming several new ponds and lakes.
At least the weather is holding reasonably dry - apart from a downpour yesterday, and a bit today.
You gotta admire the restoration process for continuing to throw up surprises.
I thought the Finch pond infill was largely complete, with the land largely at finish height. All that needed be done was a little bit of tinkering: bits of minor landscaping, perhaps digging out the odd pond , establishing stream courses, capping with top soil from the embankments, putting in fencing and trees, perhaps the car park. Sort of like fitting out the insides of a new build house, once it was weather sealed.
Oh no. Inert have continued their major upfill (as I call it) exercise. This week working alongside the north embankment (west).
I'm prepared to accept there would have been a small amount of settlement of the area after the initial infill, but surely not 45cm-60cm. This is the amount the area is being raised by, and this is without the capping of top soil from both the flattening of the embankments and whatever else is brought in.
I don't know. As a scientific/engineering type, I tend to start at one end and work my way to the other, with the odd bit of tarting up once the basic framework is completed. This restoration has Inert flitting all over the site, seemingly doing odd bits of 'non-work'. But then again, what do I know about restoring an ex-quarry.
Oh, lorries are having to reverse some 50m-75m again to drop their loads. This time as the upfill is a wide-ish strip along side the north embankment. Odd that, seeing as the going on what was Finch pond is now firm, and previously lorries would happily drive around the perimeter of this area. Reversing slows the operation down, with many lorries waiting their turn.
I'm very curious how the area will finally look, as it bears a passing resemblance to plans I have seen.
Wildlife have taken to the new, deeper Cormorant lake (north) and the possible new Finch pond. Only as Cormorant lake (south) has largely disappear, and what is left is well below ground level - thus making predator spotting a tad difficult.
Sorry about the photos. It was very, very overcast when I got to the site at 7:00am this morning.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.