Friday, 13 May 2016

Bags of Help. Erosion, gabions and moving mountains continued

After finishing a great team building day with a team from Welsh Government organised by Keep Wales Tidy, we had a little homework to do on the Friday. It was clear there wouldn't be enough stone left for the next team building day and some of the baskets looked a little bent out of shape from the force of the stones coming out the chute. We refilled some of the baskets and re-wired them internally to give them more strength and hand-filled them as we went along. It was the biggest tower of Hanoi that we had ever played, but the baskets looked much better for this work.
Little bit of remedial work re-wiring the gabion baskets
The Saturday arrived and our shiny new wheel barrows looked like someone had catapulted thousands of little ball bearings at them. We got all the tools ready for the day and waited for the arrival of a group from Barclays Partner Finance, again organised by Keep Wales Tidy as part of our Bags of Help grant.
Work was funded by our Bags of Help Application which is through Tesco single use carrier bag charges (those 5ps add up) and managed by Groundwork
The first volunteer arrived at 9.15 for a 10 am start and this was very promising. The rest arrived on time and in very good spirits. A detailed briefing was held beforehand by Keep Wales Tidy on the project, including health and safety and why the project was being done and how it would be helping Friends of Henllys LNR. We then set to work with 2 new Friends of Henllys LNR volunteers who helped to load of Barclay's barrows from the smaller pile of limestones by the gate.

The route
The Barclays Team set off at a right old pace, but we knew that it would be a big drain after expecting at least 1400 calories would likely be burned off over the day.

Conservation in action
An amazing amount was shifted and much more care was taken over stones being near the baskets and we knew that as long as the backfill was lower than the stone in the baskets we wouldn't have too many issues.
Directing the rubble chute
Barclays backfilling
This also made it much easier for us to have the gabions square meaning the lid could be shut more easily. It was slower work when the gabions were towards the top as we had to keep checking to make sure the lid could be closed as squarely as possible.
Backfilling in places was easier by tipping (wiring a cage in the background)
The lower 4 baskets which were by now full were then wired together to make the structure even stronger. We made 3 extra baskets and put some stone in these on top of the lower 4 baskets.
Great job Barclays Partner Finance
On the Sunday, we were left with around 4 tonnes to move and it was key to get it at least down the long chute as we had hired them for just 1 week and at £200 a week we didn't want to spend that extra money. Three of us worked really hard in 5 hours where I burned off just over 2000 calories according to my Fitbit Charge HR. It was really tiring so we knew what an amazing job Welsh Government and Barclays Partner Finance had done.
Hard 5 hours work
Finally on the Monday morning, our new volunteer Richard came out and helped Brian and I for a few hours. Our aim was to tidying up and move the last 4-5 barrows of stone in time for Travis Perkins to collect the scaffold planks and rubble chutes.
Ready to backfill the next 16 tonnes?
It was a bit sad to see them go, but what a great achievement moving 16 tonnes of limestone 90 metres including navigating 2 steep slopes with no injuries. We know it could have been done more quickly with heavy machinery, but what extra damage would that have done to the LNR and what new erosion paths would that have created in the wet boggy soil.
Loads of people were interested in what we were doing and we had loads of exciting conversations about what we had done and what we were planning. We know we need another 16 tonnes to complete the project, but we have to wait for the grant to be paid to us first. It'll be a bit of breathing space for now until at least July.

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