A little snow doesn’t put us (fool) hardy souls off trail building …. but it does make the journey to Birches Valley entertaining, especially coming down a snow covered Stile Cop Road.
Today’s plan was to make the final few tweaks to “Red Monkey” and “Deerskull” prior to the official opening next month. Adopting the divide and conquer principle, we split into four teams.
Our rock shuffling experts set about creating a rock garden to armour the first descent just after the red / black split.
There's an art to creating stonework of any sort, but whether or not we've found it, you'll have to judge for yourselves .... when the trail opens! Once more, a nice little rock garden was created. In this case, as it was a red graded section, it was not so much a rock garden as rock faced slope. A selection of one man liftable rocks was set aside for the task earlier in the week. In addition, we also had 2 larger items set aside as the anchors for each end.
After 3 hours, the random shaped lumps of gritstone had been fashioned to a slope that will rattle the suspension a little. We will probably return to extend the armouring another couple of yards out from each end of the existing creation, as the general consensus was 'more would be better' but that was a task for another day, as we'd used all the available rock.
But of course you have to ensure it all works the way it was intended, and as it was snowing, the kids had a sledge to hand. So how else would you test such a slope? On a bike of course ..... you really think we'd use the sledge ......???
Martin and one of our new volunteers loaded a barrow up with tools and headed off to “Deerskull” to alter the diagonal step. Rather that remove it, they turned it across the trail and reduced the height of the step - now it won’t upset the flow of the trail. On their way back they stopped to fill the rabbit hole in the middle of the first climbing switchback.
I took the rest of the group to finally join the new start out of Rainbow Valley to the original “Monkey” trail. Then we spent the rest of the morning raking off the layer of pine needles and general tidying of the trail..
The junior trail builders kept themselves busy getting wet and muddy whilst sledging and pummelling Alex with snowballs ... he did get his own back later on.
Just a quick reminder about next weekend’s Big Barrow Day. If you have a wheelbarrow please bring it along if you can. Don’t worry if yon can’t – there will be plenty of digging and raking to keep you warm!
Andrew / Bruce