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FoPV Work Morning Roundup - Thursday 11th January 2024

Hello Conservation Volunteers

A big thank you to everybody who turned out at Forge Dam for our first work morning of 2024 where we had various task teams out to clear and fix after the recent rainy weather.

The first team set off to tackle the mud and drainage at the bottom of the cobbled path behind the cafe. We had created a sump and installed a drainage pipe a few years ago which has really helped on alleviating the muddy puddle which congregated there but it had been in need of attention for a while. The team cleared the sump out and ensured the pipe was clear. The mud was cleared off the path and as to show off they even washed the path down! (see photo). It seems such a shame to walk on it with muddy boots!

On the west side of the dam another team was aiming to stop the water running across the path at the lowest point near the corner where (unfortunately) there isn't a drain under the path. Having looked at the lie of the land in this area and the way the water drains out of the Wet Woodland running down to both this corner and also to the sump/drain which was cleared last year, the plan was to ensure the water flowed only to the drain, thereby (theoretically!) no water should flow to the corner side and therefore no longer drain across the path. A channel was dug and banked to divert it to the drain only.

On going back to check a couple of days later the plan has worked. The gulley at the side of the path no longer has water has flowing in it and has started to dry up, plus, no water is flowing across the path. Sometimes the simplest of solutions are the best!

Further down the valley a large team went down to the drain with two pipes near the stepping stones, which was cleared out on our last work morning but was still not clear, overflowing onto the path and eroding it, and creating a mini wet woodland on both sides of the path with large ponds forming. On rodding the pipes, large branches/sticks were found to be part of the issue blocking it and eventually a torrent of water flowed out of the pipes and the ponds were soon gone. Leaf and stick debris has been cleared away from these areas to prevent it being washed back in.

Just below the pipe exit a gloopy, bright orange iron oxide patch was noticed on the bank side, unlike anything which is normally seen, so a quick science lesson was given by our resident geologist, Peter, (who had not seen anything quite like it), who proceeded to prod it with a spade. To our surprise a previous unknown drainage pipe, completely blocked, was there!

The rods were back out and after a lot of effort bubbles were seen in the middle of the thick, muddy pond, and after more rodding eventually a gush of muddy water came out of the pipe. The pipe entrance could then be seen and what looked like a mud bath around it was cleared out. For now, some old bricks have been laid around it. Once it has dried up we will go back to check it out and improve.

Not done yet for the morning, the team then moved on to the path at the top of the steps by the concrete bridge near the stepping stones. As the path that approaches the steps had become muddy, walkers had laid sticks down which is not the best surface to walk on. It was our belief there was a good hardcore path underneath the sticks and mud so the sticks and mud were removed, only to find another layer of sticks and mud....and more sticks and mud.....a bit like peeling an onion! After removing all the layers we finally got down to the actual path which was in perfect condition.

Elsewhere, around the dam the paths have been swept, particularity under the holly tree where the redwings had been feasting on the holly berries - messy eaters!

Ann also cleared the sticks and debris from the plant border.

The next work morning is on Tuesday 23rd January where we are planning to be at Shepherd Wheel. An email will be sent out nearer the time with details.


A Selection of photos from the work morning

The mud free and washed down cobbled path!

The sump on the other side of the railings with the drain pipe just showing

Channel diverting water down to the drain on the west side and no longer going over to the corner (right)

Two days later, gulley is water free and drying out. No water across the path

Starting to rod out the drain near the stepping stones (the orange iron oxide gloop can be seen bottom centre)

Tony pulling the sticks out of the pipe (one is stuck on the rod spike end!)

A whirlpool forms as the pipes are cleared and water starts to run out - like removing the bath plug!

Water starting to gush out - mind your feet Tony!

Water rushing down the gulley

Peter, Barry,Anna, Phil, Tony and Mel with a clear and free flowing drain

Final photo call - Peter, Anna, Barry, Lyndon, Phil and Mel

We omitted to get a photo of the gloopy orange mess before it was moved, hence this poor quality crop. Check the first photo of "Starting to rod out the drain" to see its position

Breakthrough! Thick mud draining out

The residual mud after the water has drained out

Old bricks collected from the river to mark its position

Removing mud and sticks from the path (sticks already removed can be seen on the bank on the left)

Mel and Phil with a stick and mud free path

Finished path (mud and sticks on the bank on the right)


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