Flint for access road tipping
Flint for access road tipping

On Wednesday April 6th, the team – bedraggled and shattered – completed the first week of work on (non-public) rights-of-way and land access at Wenhaston Station. Most of the area by Blyford Lane is now prepared (heavy farm vehicles will be using this from time to time), and about a quarter of the new access (for SRT and our neighbour) is done: building over a quarter-mile of roadway in very wet ground is not easy, particularly when you have to ensure that it does not dam up floods. We have laid down 300 metres of terram, and about 130 tonnes of stone and flint (almost all finally raked by hand: one volunteer, who shall be nameless – well, actually he won’t – it was Ken – suggested that he “liked raking” – cue hollow laughter). Harford Hire – a very efficient and friendly firm – provided a jar of exceptionally fiery pickled onions, which kept elements of the team going in the drizzle. The conditions were not too good, but we had to get on with this large (and expensive) task before the new boundary stock fencing is installed: this will not only require lots of opening and shutting of the new gates, but is also likely to be damaged by the machinery.  We took the opportunity, as usual, to train more staff in machine operation – training is part of our charitable remit.  The sooner we complete this essential work, the sooner the grass can grow back over the works.
Meanwhile, the trackbed fencing team have pretty well closed the gap between the west end works and the driftway crossing works – a magnificent effort in tree roots, brambles, and thorns – leaving only about 17 or 18 panels to do, at the west end, to complete the southern boundary. A violent recent thunderstorm inevitably brought down more dead elm, but this is an on-going job, which the team is well used to. The dreaded ash dieback has not yet reached Wenhaston, but is probably inevitable – a great pity, as we have several large and imposing specimens.
Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to cleaning up the machinery to return it to the hirer: not easy where there is no clean water (and it rained). At times, we seemed to be chasing ourselves around the muck-strewn work-area: clean inside the digger cab, and then have to move it, meaning mud inside and another clean-up – and so on, and so on. James, attempting to scoop up water from the ditch, very nearly managed to throw himself in (which might at least have provided a laugh). Then the bucket-removal rod got irretrievably stuck under the track throttle levers, with results that you can imagine. What with all the cleaning, and filling machines, and fetching diesel again and again, the job ended at about 9.00 pm, in the dark (an easy time to lose keys – a hard time to find them).
And in a few weeks, it’ll all have to be done again (only more).