A large volunteer team at Wenhaston (I mean that the team was large, not the volunteers, who are admirably svelte, because of all the healthful exercise) – perhaps drawn there by the fine weather – completed painting Van 13 (except for the final gloss coat, lettering and numbers, which will wait until warmer, drier weather), and cleared another sizeable section of trackbed. A number of chains-worth to the west of the crossing is now in perfect condition for grass and woodland plants to re-colonise.
The team started the process of providing a natural camouflage (woven timber) to the Portaloo, and both incinerators (including the modified oil drum kindly donated by Sole Bay Car Spares in Southwold) saw a great deal of action. With the high wind, a couple of the team managed slightly to singe themselves on an unexpected flare, but no real harm was done.
Chris and Bob, our stumping specialists, were called in to remove some very irritating remaining stumps (the smaller they are, the more you trip over them).
They now have this down to a fine art, wielding pick and mattock with all the skill of the navvies who originally built the SR. They also removed (from the sad remnants of an original gatepost) another SR gate hinge, good enough to re-use.
Preparations are well in hand for fetching a tonne and a half of fencing timber (treated larch) from Galloway, to mend the SR trackside fencing over an eight-chain length.
Elements of the team returned to the road via the site of the new trackbed (the original SR trackbed at the western end is on another property), and discussed methods for the provision of access, and the design of the new bridge. This will be quite a substantial undertaking, as it must cross two waterways (drainage dikes) with a low-lying, soft and often-flooded area in between: all in all, the structure will be almost 40 metres, and cannot in any way obstruct water flow, even in flood times. It’s an interesting civil engineering problem, as we don’t want to damage the fragile ecology of the pastures by freighting heavy equipment across them for a quarter of a mile to the bridge site.
As we have so much to do, we have decided to defer tree planting to the autumn – a better time anyway, as the ground in the wood is very dry and impauperate. Appropriate local native species, such as elder and alder, white and black poplar, and possibly Scots pine (all of which can be seen in other parts of the valley) can be used, sparingly, to enhance the diversity here.