Work has started on a new restoration site at Moat Farm.
Negotiations in January 2012 were concluded to allow a limited amount of ground clearance before the start of the bird nesting season, with further tree surgery/scrub clearance in the Autumn.
Site leader, Martyn Tilford with landowners, Hilary and Paul Renecle handing the signed documents to Wilf Jones, Project Manager for H&G CT.
Moat Farm is a great restoration site with a good length of well defined canal bed much of which has remained virtually undisturbed since its abandonment when the railway was constructed. This small site is another important piece in the jigsaw! Negotiations continue on other sites to provide a long term progression of work for our ever expanding numbers of volunteers.
The summer months will see a small team repair fences, erect working party access gate(s), remove old fencing and posts and survey the site to establish the work required, in liaison with the owners, for next winter. During this time a full programme of work will be developed for 2013/14 to enable H&G CT volunteers to use their skills and time to restore the canal.
The team at Malswick is made up of volunteers old and new. Tea and lunch breaks are an important feature of restoration work, so it was important to create a sheltered ‘amenity’ area where these could be taken. Fortunately, at the south end of the site, the former railway bridge offered a readymade shelter. The area beneath was soon cleared to provide a relatively dry and suitable retreat. With a table and chairs set out, and the kettle boiling on its gas ring, everyone is happy!
Fortunately not many mature trees exist in the actual bed of the canal. The wet conditions favour few varieties however the genus Salix (Willow) is one such and a large example could be found midway through the site. It appeared to have grown and fallen a number of times and resembled something that might be found in a scene from Lord of the Rings. A couple of sessions with chainsaws reduced this monster to a six-foot stump which will be removed sometime in the future.
The north end of the site marks the location of the two chamber staircase lock known as Double Lock. Unfortunately nothing exists at ground level and it is probable that most of the masonry was buried or removed by the railway navvies. We will be carrying out some trial excavation here to see what remains.