I waited until Sunday to visit Manor farm. Saturday was pretty manky and foggy. Not point in going down. Sunday was still pretty manky, totally gloom with very,very low light conditions.
Also, I hoped Inert would not be working on Sunday.
They weren't! Thus I had unfettered access to walk the site - except for the mud (just short of wellington depth on the tracks) and soft ground.
Firstly, it was obvious the pump was not working. Standing water everywhere. Finch pond reappears. Despite there being a let up in the rain. The soft ground isn't too brilliant for the heavy plant trundling about the place.
Secondly: The scrape appears to be completely buried under about 10' of spoil. I didn't dare try and negotiate the bulldozed soil to get to the scrape. The ground was too soft, and I know from experience that soggy, freshly bulldozed spoil is lethal (i.e.like quicksand) especially when close to lake's shore.
My mid week stomp was also delayed by a day. I popped down Thursday morning, as Wednesday morning was even foggier than Saturday. I spied about three lorries on the site, plus bulldozer. I might have arrived at a tea break.
I guess the infill is slow but steady. Quite a bit of stuff appears to have been brought onto the land mass. Inert appear to be in the building piles all over the place phase: the place looks like No man's land.
After a week or two, I expect the piles of spoil to be levelled, and then gouged out, before more stuff is brought in an built into little hills.
As that idiot president's blatant attempts of a coup falter, and this stupid lockdown enters its third week (with the infection and death rates falling as a result of the tiered restrictions filter through), I was once again thwarted by Inert working on a Saturday.
Our lone bulldozer driver was working away at 7:35am, when I arrived on site. I did notice flashy lights on Chandlers farm - perhaps Inert have started work on restoring it. Who knows.
Wednesday morning provided a surprise. At least five or six lorries on Manor farm, with an actual queue! Albeit of two lorries. I must reiterate that there isn't any sense in hiring too many lorries whilst they still have to reverse 75m or so up onto the land mass. It just takes too long, some five minutes to reverse up, drop their load, and drive back. Queues of lorries will thus build up quickly, with drivers spending up to 25 minutes or more twiddling their thumbs.
In any case, it was heartening to see the pace of restoration picking up. My prediction of infill being completed by the end of this month was, perhaps, wildly optimistic but I reckon was possible were it not for the unusually wet October and November we've been experiencing.
Back to Saturday. I spied the bulldozer from Longwater road entrance. To gain some semblance of what the chap was up to, I decided to make my way across the Finch pond infill to the north embankment. I knew no plant would come onto Finch pond side of the works, whilst I would be some 10 to 15m up on the north embankment and ridge. Plus, it would give me a chance to photograph the works from there, as it has been some time since I walked along the north embankment and east ridge alongside Cormorant lake (north).
Well, from some 100m away from the bulldozer, it was difficult to assess the amount of progress this last week. There seemed to be a fair amount, with large swathes of fresh, dark spoil spotted around the land mass. It still seems a random process to me, this restoration lark. Inert are flitting all over the place.
I spotted yer actual lorries on my Wednesday stomp. At least four of the beasts, which have been rare or missing these last few weeks. To qualify my remarks, I do reckon there have been lorries on site, it's just I didn't seem them during my short, 25 minute mid week stomp.
Four or five lorries is about right, given the ground conditions and the fact the lorries have to reverse some 75 or 100 metres up a vehicle way on the land mass. Basically it worked like this.
While one lorry reverse up the land mass on a vehicle track, another is trundling over from Chandlers farm. When this second lorry reaches the vehicle way it positions itself to reverse. In the mean time, the first lorry is beginning to dump its load.
The second lorry only has to wait a minute or so for the first lorry to complete its dump (as it were) and drive down the vehicle way, before it can reverse up the vehicle way.
Elsewhere, lorry number three is making its way over to Chandlers farm, while a fourth lorry is being loaded with spoil. There might have been a fifth lorry, but I feel there were only four.
These four lorries keep things ticking along nicely, dropping loads for the bulldozer driver, and this time with out the 8 to 10 lorry jams I used to see last autumn; as lorries queued to get over the bailey bridge.
As to why the lorries were reversing this long way. Walking on areas off the vehicle way, on Saturday, revealed firm but soft ground. Not particularly good for heavily laden lorries to trundle over - especially when reversing. It's all this rain we've been having. I think it was the wettest October ever, and November (normally a dry month) doesn't seem to be letting up on the wet stuff falling from the sky.
Dawn on Saturday was wet and dark, with low heavy cloud. I delayed my trip until 7:30, partly to see if the rain would get worse and partly to give Inert time to get on site. However, Inert were not working this Saturday, meaning not only could I get on site, I could also wander round and make my way up to the ridge.
Well, dear reader, having bemoaned the glacial pace Inert appeared to be working to these past few weeks, it appears that either I did not read the situation properly or that in the past couple of weeks restoration pace has picked up.
A lot of spoil has been shipped onto the land mass - reversing 100yds not withstanding. Even more spoil has been bulldozed into Cormorant lake (south). This much was evident even from my exile on the South footpath. However, what was hidden from me, mainly as I could not get on site, was how far north the infill has proceeded.
In places the northern edge of the land mass has almost meets the gravel causeway and mud flats on the northern shores of Cormorant lake (south). I was so surprised when I saw this. Progress really has picked up, I feel. Shame there is so much rain forecast, which will make the ground too soft for lorries to safely drive along.
Actually, speaking of this, when I hopped over the gate at the Longwater road entrance, I notice some deep vehicle tracks - possibly the heavy earth mover. Then, when I had to take a long detour from the land mass, round the copse and Finch pond, then across the Finch pond infill, I noticed that the heavy plant had been trundling across this area.
When I headed back to the Longwater road entrance, from my visit to the ridge, I saw more of the vehicle tracks further north on the Finch pond infill. I wonder if someone was testing out the ground conditions in this part of the site, with a view of allowing lorries safe access to Cormorant lake (north)?
Inert actually used this route about three years ago, when they fill in Finch pond. Lorries would drive along the south vehicle track, turn north near the sewage works, then head east when they reached the north embankment, finally turning south to make their way around the ridge i.e. almost a full circle around the Finch pond part of the site. It seemed to work.
Oh, the pump was chugging away. It is needed, due to the almost continuous deluge we've been having.
Sad to say, two and a half weeks of lockdown left. A lockdown imposed with dodgy data, dodgy science, and people with a vested interest. Valance and Whitty commented on this, and apologised for using correct data. An example being that the regional tiers were working. The R rate was going down. Valance admitted they did not take the latest data, for the last two weeks of the tiers, into account when pushing for lockdown!
What an ending to a tumultuous and nerve wracking week. Firstly, bumbling Boris is bounced into calling a 2nd lockdown with the use of dodgy data. Whitty/Valance forced to apologise for saying up to 4000 covid-19 deaths a day will occur, then one modelling team admitting they found an error which meant they were overstating, by 50%, the number of projected covid-19 deaths.
Secondly we have the bizarre spectacle of the US presidential elections, culminating with Biden being called as the next president. The relief worldwide is palpable.
Thirdly, Inert continue restoration of Manor farm. Yeah! I popped down on Thursday morning, and could just make out a digger, in the fog, working on the land mass. No idea what it was doing, as it had stopped when I wandered around at 9:30am, but I couldn't see much due to said fog.
I returned at 7:00am on Saturday, and heard ominous sounds of clanking emanating from Chandlers farm. Inert working on Saturday again. I took a chance and legged it onto the site, hoping that either Inert were confining their activities to Chandler's farm or that they would do what they normally do and not arrive on Manor farm until 7:40am.
As I trekked along the south vehicle track, first sighting worthy of mention is that water levels have dropped considerably with Finch pond now looking very dry. Making my way to just east of the copse, I noted that Inert have been working along this area again, this time pushing spoil further onto the land mass. Other than a flattened and levelled piece of land, it is rather difficult to fathom what has been done or why.
By now it was 7:10am. My hopes of getting onto the land mass to the east of my mighty mound we dashed as I spotted our bulldozer clanking out of the mist along the south vehicle track. Time to beat a hasty retreat.
I walked eastward, along the south footpath, to see if I could see anything. Not much really. Our bulldozer driver was working in an east/west direction, shovelling stuff from the middle of the land mass into the west shore of Cormorant lake (south). There seemed to be more piles of stuff, arranged in long lines, where he was working, but it was hard to tell if it was a significant amount or if a long shallow wide trench was being dug - I've seen this before.
Well there you have it. A very short visit, with very little to see or report on. Progress seems back to glacial pace, but at least it is on going.
Having had all summer to prepare for a second wave, bumbling Boris, his bunch of hapless buffoons and a bunch of over paid, under worked managers of hospital trusts have squandered this time. Coupled with the members of Sage and the Whitty/Valance double act, who value quantity of life over quality of life, 99.5% of the population and the economy have to suffer for the incompetence of the above. Well, at least I get more time to paint.
Tipper and grab loader lorries were conspicuous by their absence during my 25 minute Wednesday morning stomp. Therefore there appeared to be the usual glacial progress I warned would happen weeks ago. Further, will this stupid four week lockdown lead to zero work being done on Manor Farm? Is restoration work permitted? After all, the plant operators are almost completely self isolating. Only time will tell.
I can only assume that the pump is either off, broken down or has run out of diesel. Although I didn't wander over to it on Saturday (it was working on Wednesday), the high water levels and return of Finch pond suggests it was not chugging away.
Inert have been working around my mighty mound; there was a digger and driver there on Wednesday. However, it is rather difficult to figure what they are actually doing, apart from scraping the top off a small section of the south vehicle track.
Some further hills have appeared around my mighty mound. Not sure why. They appear more rubble filled that some of the spoil. This is actually great track building material, and gives firm ground on any infill. I look for this stuff when wandering around any infill as I know I wont sink up to my knees in the mud.
Despite the deluges we've been having, the ground has remained remarkably firm. Even when I wander almost to the edges of infill around the lake water. Normally, freshly bulldozed spoil is remarkably soft.
I noticed the bulldozer working on the eastern parts of the land mass, scraping and pushing spoil into Cormorant lake (south). This became more evident on my Saturday stomp, as there were tracks all over the place, most headed to the shore edges of Cormorant lake (south). I'm not sure where the spoil for infill is coming from, due to the lack of lorries on Wednesday. On the other hand, I might have hit a quiet spell between deliveries.
We'll see if anything happens this coming week. I might elect to take my exercise by walking around the south footpath on Thursday.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.