With the help of our Tuesday volunteer team we’ve completed the first day of path improvements this year. We started out with a particularly boggy patch in Pond Wood, next to the sluice. Although the paths in Pond Wood can lay generally quite wet, I suspect there is a small leak in the sluice. Not enough to effect the water level of the pond or to warrant a repair to the sluice at this point, but just enough to cause the adjacent stretch of path to be very muddy for much of the year.
So, we excavated down a few inches, removing the worst of the wet soil. Then, using a waterproof membrane, we lined the base of the path and back filled with around 100mm depth of type one stone. The membrane should mean that moisture doesn’t soak through the new path surface. We’ve not used a membrane on our own path repairs before (because of cost) but becuase this area was quite small it was justified. Our contractor however used this method last year for the new farm path by the Kyd Brook and it has worked very well.
I was asked a question about the concrete sluice just this week, to the effect that it is an odd material to use and find in a woodland. Its a fair question and I personally do not like to see concrete used in the countryside, but there are exceptions. In the case of Pond Wood, you can still see remnants of the old brick sluice today. In combination with oak boards this worked well for many years. Sadly the sluice was badly vandalised and the oak boards removed eight or nine years ago. We took the time to replace with like for like materials but again the oak boards were stolen. As I’m sure you can imagine, during this time we lost the water in the pond a couple of times and I’m sure a variety of wildlife too. So we took the decision to head off any further damage and use concrete on this occasion – thankfully it has worked and we’ve managed to maintain the water level.
In a couple of weeks we’ll be continuing with path repairs, targeting wet or damaged areas within Petts Wood. The purchase of type one stone has been generously grant funded by both Petts Wood Runners and the Chislehurst Society. We’ll hire in a mini digger and with the help of our volunteers get the stone put down.
Elsewhere in our portfolio, the strong winds a couple of weeks ago brought down a very large willow bough at St Johns Jerusalem. Typically, it didn’t fall on to the lawn but in to the moat. Once in the water we almost always have to bring in tree surgeons and a crane to lift trees such as this. We can’t winch or drag as we would at other sites because of damage we would cause to the formal lawn, moat banks or archaeology at this ancient monument site. The picture below shows the tree and in due course I’ll try and post some action shots of the crane and tree surgeons.