We have been back at work in Chelfham Woods in the last month, fitting in track work between the hibernation and breeding seasons for dormice. Last autumn we constructed a series of tracks, and stoned them from a quarry on site. This spring our main focus has been to build a bridge across the river into Eastacott and Southcott Woods.
The works were part of an agreed prior permitted development, but we also needed land drainage consent form Devon County Council. Upstream we installed a 600mm culvert across a small side stream, but for the main river the agreed solution was a 4 metre span bridge. This has no parapets, so if debris does block the watercourse, then the river can continue to flow over the top.
The bridge now provides car access to both woods, as well as providing an excellent track for future management. Roger and George (local contractors working with me) both wondered why we did not make do with a ford crossing, but a few wet feet later they had an answer! The previous track improvements meant we could get nearly 40 tonnes of ready-mix concrete delivered to the actual site. And thanks to John for calculating the steel girder sizes (four at 305 X 165 X 47 if you are interested). I left Roger to finish the job, as we were two crossing timbers short for the main deck. My version of at least 12 feet long seemed to be reinterpreted as about 12 feet long by an up-country supplier.
A pond next to the new bridge is already being visited by two mallard, though I think they prefer one up the valley dug last year for Rosanna. Meanwhile, next on the list is fencing and restoring around seven acres of meadow, abandoned by the previous owners perhaps twenty years ago. Let me know if you have a hungry horse – we may have just the site for you.