Saturday, 19 July 2014

Saving a Vole

19th July, 2014 by Rob Westlake: After the preliminary discussions the previous month, CRT Heritage wouldn't let us do anything more than 'spring-clean' the former stable block up near the tunnel. This work took the form of a 'dust' of the internal roof and beams along with the walls. The oldest graffiti was dated in the 1960's and some of the cobwebs dated from this era!! The floor was swept and several barrowfuls of leaves carted away.
Steve and Kathryn removed most of the ivy from the gable ends and the bushes and weeds cut back to enable the building to be 'seen' again.

Our attentions were then transferred to the southern tunnel portal. The blockwork towpath from the Blacksmiths to the portal was weeded and swept. Brambles and weeds cleared back that were encroaching on the 'tunnel section ring' - placed on the embankment beside the tunnel in 1984 after the re-lining of the central section. Weeds and ivy were removed from the tunnel portal.

After an abortive morning, waiting for a certain hire company to deliver equipment, our CRT Volunteer co-coordinator Miriam arrived with a strimmer and a hedgecutter. Our 2 'certified' power tool members set to work to clear the offside area of the approach to the tunnel. This revealed a set of Stop Planks which we reckon CRT probably don't even know they had!
Have they been used since 1984?

The whole area around the tunnel does look much more 'cared for'.
A small tidy up just before the planned ceremony on the 22 August is hopefully all that will be required - for the unveiling of a Red Wheel Plaque by the Transport Heritage Trust. This has been planned on the 30th anniversary of the re-opening of the tunnel after the closure of 4 years to enable the major re-construction of the central section.

2 highlights of the morning.
A water vole - swimming along the edge of the offside piling - and Miriam's brave efforts to rescue.
An Osprey flying overhead - witnessed by Rob and Miriam. Not the majestic bird of prey, but the US Air Force CV-22

The rest of the day was spent trimming back the every encroaching brambles and nettles along the woodland walk and cutting the hedge alongside the towpath between the Museum Green and the Woodland walk.

Next task day is planned for the 13th August.

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