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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - August 2012

August 04 & 05

Well at least we escaped the Olympics for a weekend! Mud was very much the theme of the weekend and readers can rest assured that if mud wrestling ever becomes an Olympic sport the Society could assemble a team capable of winning a gold medal for Britain.

The main contributory factor to the mud-fest was, of course, the near constant rain that has been such a feature of the ‘summer’. Rain run-off from already completed liner section (about 100 m or about one quarter of the total) and land water run-off from completely saturated ground in adjacent fields all ends up in the channel. The two main tasks now are earth moving, and lining and block laying, and both require dry, or at least not saturated, ground conditions. Thus progress has not been what we would wish recently.

The weekend started for three volunteers on Friday who entertained themselves pumping all day at both Redwith and Pryces ends, and doing some shaping of the towpath slope at Redwith. The idea of this work was to prepare the channel for block laying at Redwith the next day. Since the results at the end of the day showed the bottom of the channel to be thick mud, block laying the next day seemed pretty touch and go even in the absence of overnight rain.

Saturday dawned and general surprise there had been no overnight rain so the decision was taken to start block laying. It is a great tribute to all the volunteers involved that they managed to get about 10 m of the channel finished before lunch using duck-boards and making every effort not to unnecessarily disturb the channel bottom. During lunch – guess what? – it rained. Just workable conditions became nigh impossible conditions in the time it takes to eat a sandwich. Some further efforts were made to stabilise the channel bed using dry soil and cement but all to no avail. We were eventually put out of our misery by a thunderstorm of biblical proportions in the middle of the afternoon.

In addition to the block laying exploits, shaping was done at both ends of the channel. The spoil used to put the finishing touches to the last 10 m of the new bank south of the tip entrance.

The inundations ensured that no block-laying was possible on Sunday morning. Instead a French drain was installed down the centre of the channel at Redwith Bridge end to permit future pumping. This technique has worked well at the Pryces Bridge end of the channel and should permit further progress on the block-laying front next time. Sadly, there is no drainage system in existence capable of dealing with the ‘month’s rain in 15 minutes’ which has been a feature of the past few months and it is a case of being patient until the weather improves.

The above might seem a bit depressing, so to cheer readers up we offer another instalment in our ever-popular series on site footwear. The weather this summer has made Wellington boots a highly fashionable item and our photograph shows Julian modelling some particularly stylish examples in lime green by the well known Italian designer Hazmax. This type of boots were a sensation at Royal Ascot and Henley and similarly created quite a stir among the more fashion conscious volunteers.


Repairing last month's quagmire
Suits you sir!
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The 'less committed' can just be seen sheltering under the bridge Motivation restored
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At least the slopes are still OK Installing the trench
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