Sunday, 1 April 2012

Completion of the Woodland Walk at Allan Bank

Since our last update we've been continuing the path repair work at Allan Bank. With the house opening to the public for the first time on the 31st March, we've had a job to get everything finished in time!

A lot of drainage work had been carried out over the years, but due to lack of continual maintenance it has fallen into disrepair. Much of the water entering Allan Bank comes through a gap in the wall at the top of the wood and is sent through a stone culvert underneath part of the path, and from there down to the walled garden. The culvert had collapsed and become blocked by stones and tree roots.

Blocked culvert

This meant that during heavy rain the culvert overflows and water is forced off-course so that it runs down the path, which has started to cause damage. It was therefore essential that we should make some improvements, so it was decided that the culvert should be taken apart and rebuilt.

Repairing the culvert

The first job was to remove the top stones to gain access to the drain. Next, the sides of the drain (which are like small sections of dry stone wall) were taken apart and replaced with more substantial stone. The culvert was also widened so that it would be able to cope with heavier downpours. Once any interfering roots had been removed, the top stones were placed back in position and wedged tight.

The finished culvert

Since the last blog post we have completed the restoration of a further four sections of stone steps. The steps in the photo below had become unstable and the ground had eroded beneath them, meaning they were on the verge of falling out

Old steps in need of repair

The original steps were completely stripped down and then cemented together to add extra strength. An additional step was also added.

The restored steps

To help gain height up to the steps, five wooden risers were constructed just below the new bottom step. It's hoped that eventually the risers will be removed and replaced with more stone steps which would be more in keeping. But due to our tight time scale and lack of materials, wooden risers were the only option.

Steps with the added risers

We have also continued to improve the quality of the path surface. The path below was a particularly steep section with bedrock and large boulders just below the surface. If this had been left unattended it's likely that the path would have eroded away to the rock below making it extremely difficult to walk on.

Steep section of path before commencing work

A series of wooden risers were built to make it easier walking down this steep slope and also to prevent the soil from eroding.

Section of path with new risers in place

The Fix the Fells volunteers once again helped us move the wooden edging into position next to the risers.

Moving the edging into position

With the edging now securely staked into position it was time to gravel the path.

Gravelling and edging the risers

With only hours left before opening time, we finished off the final bits of gravelling and edging. Our last job was to walk the path and put in marker posts to direct people around the new trail.

So if you get the chance to visit Allan Bank, we'd love to know what you think. Either post a comment below, or if you're on Twitter, tweet us a message @NTCentralFells.

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