Update on some of the Projects Undertaken in 2013

Various projects have been in the pipeline since last year. At last this year several have come to fruition.

Brendon Bridge has been in a poor state ever since the present trust took over. The parapet walls were disintegrating and the arches of culvert under the bridge were breaking. Thanks to grants from Devon CC and others. This has been dealt with and looks a lot better for it. One reason that we keen to see these repairs done was that it is the only bridge in our ownership that still has capping stones on the ‘wing walls’. Before this project there were only three in place on one side and two on the other. After a dig into the silt and rubble around the bridge three more were found. These have now been replaced and it all looks a lot smarter because of it. Thanks are due to Eric Harris the contractor used, and help with lifting the big capping stones by Tim Bacon.

The Trust’s length of canal includes a delightful section that bisects Dunsdon National Nature Reserve. Two years ago Devon Wildlife Trust who manage the reserve proposed re-watering the 300 yards of canal for which they felt able to get a grant. Eventually this summer that grant became available to them. They had done a lot of the preparation work of removing trees along one side of the canal allowing access to a digger. In September the digger moved in and removed most of the silt from the base of the canal, being careful not to dig through the clay base. Clay bunds had to be put in at each end with a new spillway at the outlet end. Thanks to the dry spell this went well. About a week after that work finished the rain came and the canal was quickly half full of water – and looked lovely. As the water level rose, as expected a couple of leaks appeared. This has meant that the filling has had to be slowed down to enable plugging the leaks to take place. DWT also repaired an access bridge across the canal along this stretch and put on some attractive new curved handrails. It is well worth a walk through this section to see the work done.

Work to solve the drainage problem at the rear of the Wharf building previously set back by heavy rainfall has this week been completed with the much appreciated assistance of materials by Bridgemans of Kilkhampton and equipment use donated by M&J Builders of Bude plus time volunteered by an employee on the digger.

Other work hasn’t been quite so dramatic. Some overdue post and rail fencing has been erected at Burmsdon Farm just beyond the bridge over The Tamar to try and reduce the problem and walkers thinking that there is a route away from there by walking through the farm yard and along the private farm drive to get to the road. Warning signs have now been put up.

Some more ‘Deep Water’ warning signs have been placed at Virworthy Wharf. We have spent quite a while trying to stop a big leak on the side of the spillway from the basin there. When the water level rose all seemed o.k. However, there was disappointment after a while as the leaks both sides of the spillway reappeared. So, it’s back to the drawing board and paddling.

Back in the spring we had tree surgeons in to remove a couple of big trees at Cape Horn. One was a big oak growing on the canal bank above one of the circular stream culverts. These culverts are original structures built of stone with no mortar and are delightful. However, the occasional flood conditions we have had the past few years have started to seriously break down the entrances and exits. The second tree was a sycamore that had grown on the stream bank a few yards upstream from the culvert entrance. This had resulted in the stream changing course and starting to erode the canal bank to one side of the culvert entrance. We will now have to cut the bank and remaining stump away to put the stream back on course. A (wooden) revetment wall built across the eroded secton will complete the job. Altogether, quite a big project to finish. Another very large tree which had collapsed across the stream at the outlet end of a second culvert was also removed.

Otherwise, it’s been the usual mowing the path and cutting back overhanging brambles and small branches. Last winter we did get most of the path side hedges trimmed back but nature will have its way!

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