Hardcastle Crags, Sunday 14th July 2013
9 volunteers, Report & Photos: Steve
We, along with three of Drew, the NT Ranger’s regular volunteers, met up in glorious sun shine in Clough Hole Car Park ready for today’s task of repairing the footpath that runs from the car park down into the valley and onto Gibson’s Mill. We were in turn faced with a huge, (20 tonnes it turned out), pile of aggregate which along with Drew’s promise that he had plenty of wheel barrows began to make us wonder just how hot and tiring the day might become. However, Drew arrives shortly in a tractor with loading bucket which would be doing the hard work.
Walking from the car park Drew pointed out where the floods of the previous year had swept off of the road and down the footpath removing the surface and gouging out deep ruts. In addition, to filling these ruts and laying a new top coat of aggregate we were to build two ‘grips’, stone gullies at an angle across the path to divert water off the footway. Drew, confident that we must had built some before; we had once, a long time ago, showed us the positions and left us to it whilst he went off to start moving the aggregate. We then split into two groups, one to start the footpath repairs and the other to commence work on the first grip. The river adjacent to the path provided a good supply of stone, both for filling the deeper ruts in the path and for the construction of the grips.
The path repair team quickly got to work and with the ruts filled and Drew providing regular supplies of aggregate with the tractor they were soon levelling, raking and tamping down the path.
Meanwhile at the grip, after various exchanges of ideas regarding exactly how we would go about building it, further clarification from Drew and then more discussions a plan was decided upon and work begun. A shallow trench was mattocked / dug across the path in which flat stones were placed upright on the downhill side with their tops about 4 inches above the level of the footpath to catch the water. The selection and placing of these stones did prove quite tricky at times as it was necessary to ensure as small a gap as possible between adjacent stones. They were bedded well down to ensure they were firm and then a horizontal layer of stone was placed in front of them to stop the water eroding the base of the gully and also to make it easier to clean. Work on the first grip was completed just in time as work on the footpath had reached this point. The aggregate was laid up to grip and also behind the upright stones so that they were no longer proud on the downhill side.
After lunch a separate group set off down the path to remove overhanging branches and vegetation and also to clear out the grips further down the hill.
Work on the second grip went a lot quicker than the first, primarily as we now knew what we were doing and partly because by not starting at one end but in the middle we could work on two ends and so twice as fast.
A hot and tiring day’s work, but the results of our efforts made it all worthwhile – a transformed path and two grips in place to prevent further erosion. Judging by the number of people who were using the path today the work will be much appreciated.
More photos from this task