Posted: 19 February 2014
The last time I recorded a Walk Around the Grounds was in early December. That was before the succession of storms that we have suffered so with some sun to encourage me it was time for another tour of inspection.
On the main path round the back of the lake you now encounter a fallen tree. I have yet to inspect it properly to see if this is a long dead tree like the one on the island that I mentioned when writing about the Lake Freezing Over on 13 December. Certainly, I was unaware of a dead tree in the area and suspect that it will turn out either to be a little taller and more exposed than others nearby or, perhaps, to have less secure roots.
Moving on to the entrance to the "New Path" I notice a change in the embankment beside it. Comparing the photograph taken on my last Walk Around the Grounds you'll notice new burrowing under the grassy crown of the embankment. In December, I had been commenting on the way the vertical faces of the embankments were being eroded by, I presumed, pheasants, or perhaps other creatures, hunting for seeds, roots, or other food. These new burrows represent something different. They are new work rather than diggings in already exposed earth.
Exploring the new path the dyke seemed more exposed than before, as one might expect as the undergrowth dies back further following the frosts that we've had over the last six weeks. There are more dead trees to remove from the dyke than I had previously realised. However, these are almost entirely thin stems only two or three inches in diameter that should be easy to cut - if you can get reasonable access to them. Acquiring a boat is becoming an urgency! Not only is one needed for clearing the dykes, but also for clearing the reed around the fringes of the lake.
Towards the end of the new path I found another fallen tree. This one had split at ground level and needs to be removed if the path is to remain easily passable. Its site is close to the short diagonal cut that joins the main dyke with the boundary dyke separating Ruston House's grounds from the rest of the original fishing complex.
The diagonal dyke is a bit of a puzzle. It's green weed-covered, surface can be seen in the first of these last two photographs. Much of this appears to be caused because the outfall is largely choked with silt that reeds now grow in, leaving the diagonal dyke stagnant. The dyke's presence leaves an inaccessible triangular island in the north west corner of the grounds. I suppose the dyke was dug to help ease the outfall from the boundary dyke into the main drainage dyke, but it would appear that the boundary dykes were simply dug to help drain the peat found west of Chapel Road and aren't fed by drains from the slightly higher ground east of Chapel Road. That would mean that there is never going to be any significant flow in them that would justify the diagonal cut. I'd love to know what information I'm missing that would provide an answer to why it was dug.
Posted: 9 March 2014
At last, I can add the long awaited photograph of the fallen tree on the island.