Our bulldozer returns and the pump has been turned on.
There has been a huge amount of progress this past week. I haven't seen so much progress in many, many months. Restoration pace before lockdown was glacial, mainly due the use of single track roads, necessitating lorries queuing just south of the bailey bridge, with jams up to 15 lorries long!
Now, with two way traffic and more than one lorry at a time on the land mass, restoration is romping a long. A word of caution: I have seen this before. A massive flurry of activity for two or four weeks, involving 10, 20 or more lorries, then back to glacial progress for months. In fairness to Inert/Cemex, there are a finite number of tipper trucks and grab loaders available for hire, and other companies need them as well.
My Thursday stomp (I couldn't make my usual Wednesday) revealed much activity going and our bulldozer driver's return. Now, it is possible that he has been here previously, and that my two mid-week visits coincided with his day off, but it is nice to see him as it means progress will be much faster.
I also heard the pump working away, but strangely there was no water gushing from the usual outlets. However, one stream, entering the Blackwater, was in full spate, which might suggest the water is being diverted. The other explanation is that the pump has only just been turned on, and the settlement ponds are still being filled, and have not reached a sufficient depth to overflow into the usual discharge channels.
Either way, water levels were considerably lower in both Cormorant lakes and the drainage channel between Cormorant lake (south) and what is left of Finch pond. In fact, the latter's low water levels allowed me to cross the drainage channel near the ridge, rather than take a long detour around Finch pond.
Inert have continued to build up and consolidate the ground on the north shore of Cormorant lake (south) they have been raising since returning. They have also moved their operation westward to the strange track across the land mass I commented on last week. The ground level has been raised by about 2' (60cm).
I can't work out if this raised area (getting on to the size of a football pitch) is now at its final height. There are now survey markers to tell me. Standing on the lovely, 'smooth', level surface and looking south to the land next to the Blackwater, it sort of looks as if it is the final height.
However, another word of caution. I have seen Inert do this - what I call dump, level, gouge. To wit, they dump a whole load of spoil in big heaps, then level the ground, then gouge out the level ground - pushing the stuff into a lake, before repeating the process.
On the other hand, if Inert keep their work rate up then I feel the infill of Cormorant lake could be finished in November, if not sooner. A lot of the infill near the south footpath (basically from the pump station to the copse) needs to be gouged out to make the new, long Manor lake. What is gouged out can be used either to infill the north east corner of Cormorant lake or help build up its level.
The north and east embankments and ridge can then be bulldozed, partly to infill Cormorant lake (north) and partly to provide a final layer of top soil. Unless we get really foul, wet weather, I can't really see any reason why the basic infill and landscaping of Manor farm cannot be completed before next April.
Now on to my Saturday stomp. I got to Manor farm at about 7:15am, walked along the west and north embankments to photograph progress from the ridge. Then I traipsed down the ridge, making my way across the drainage ditch (without any drama i.e. sinking up to my knees in mud), and photographed the huge amount of build up that has happened.
At about 7:35am I heard clanking of heavy plant coming from Chandlers farm. I wasn't unduly worried as this has happened many times over the past three years. But then a movement, coming from the direction of the bailey bridge, caught my eye. It looked like the mesh barriers had been opened. I stopped and watched, as I might have been mistaken, but sure enough the heavy earth mover made its way onto Manor farm, but stopped.
My plan had been to wander over to the pump, but the arrival of heavy plant stymied that idea. At 7:40 am I decided needed to get off Manor farm so as not to interfere with Inert's work. It's is going to bugger up my Saturday stomp if Inert keep this working up. I may have to switch to Sunday. Surely they wouldn't work on a Sunday.
Anyway, I turned and walked westward towards the Longwater road. Curious as to what Inert were up to, I dropped down behind a raised area of ground and watched what was going on for a while. A digger appeared, and both drivers had a conflab. I made my way around the copse, crossed over to the south footpath (I wasn't going to walk all the way back to the Longwater road), and then headed east along the footpath to see what Inert were doing.
The chaps were taking spoil from the heaps piled up near the pump station, and moving it onto the land mass. Finally! It took Inert ages and ages to pile the stuff up originally, due to the single track road.
I've just realised, I have not provided an update to the (badly drawn) progress map since September last year. Here is my attempt at trying to show how much infill has taken place since I started this blog. The red lines represent what I think has been done since last September.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.