Sunday, 25 November 2012

Tree Cutting at Flooded Shackerstone...

Hi guys. Today was a visit to the Steam Department at Shackerstone. However, rather than working on the locomotives we were out on the line today, doing a bit of the old Permanent Way. The plan of attack was to get to Shackerstone and pick up some kit before heading 2 miles south to Carlton bridge which crosses the Market Bosworth to Carlton road between Hedleys Crossing and the Airfield. I left home at just before 10am on this chilly morning and roared down into Nuneaton in the Saxo. It had been raining heavily the night before and the tell-tale signs of flooding were already starting to appear. The Weddington road was flooded by a few inches near the 60mph pick-up towards Caldecote. Houses and cars were sodden, with wastebins floating out into the road. The speed here was more like 6mph than 60! The road then dried as I reached the Royal Red Gate (the A5) and picked up the A444 towards Fenny Drayton. Sibson village had just about escaped the floods as it hadn't reached road level...only lower by a couple of inches...though the fields nearby were submurged. As I crested the hill near Sheepy Magna the fields ahead were like the ocean...no joke. The water was not draining away and lay across the fields like a huge blanket, completely covering fences and grasslands. The Gibbet Lane turn off was clear and so I took it as normal, though the water was deep alongside the road. I knew that as soon as the road drew level with the fields I was done for...and there we had it...a flood! The same section had been flooded this summer and so I tried my luck on the shallower section. The Saxo moaned as it creeped through the drift at about 4 or 5 inches deep. Just as I cleared the drift and was beginning to accelerate I was flagged down by Andy coming the other way who insisted that the next drift was much deeper and that we would not make it through. So, I turned around and headed back through the first drift, this time dropping down a pothole which brought water up into the grill...a narrow escape!

Shackerstone was completely cut off with accesses from Gibbet Lane, Twycross, Bilstone, Congerstone and Newton Burgoland all badly flooded. The Derby lane section was OK but to get there you had to brave Snarestone. We decided to head straight to Carlton but the crossroads was over 2ft deep and so we had to go all the way around Market Bosworth village and down to Carlton village before coming back down the same road to the other side of the flood waters at the bridge. The bridge was also flooded, with its deepest at about 2.5ft...far too deep for a Saxo! We unloaded our cars here as it was clear that there were going to be no passers by (apart from a completely mad runner!) going through it.
Having clambered up the embankment the team started the job. The DMU was running today with trains leaving Shackerstone at 11am, 1pm and 3pm so we only had to watch out for that...rather than the roaring beast that is 3803! Every member of the gang was equipped with a hi-viz jacket and the driver of the DMU was made fully aware of our intent and position and so all was taken care of in the safety stakes. At the lineside, well clear of the track, we started two fires in order to burn away the cut-down foliage.
The floods at the crossroads ahead and under the bridge itself continued to present a problem for most drivers. Countless cars either turned away immediately or tried their luck before giving up. Only the odd, tall 4 x 4 and a stupid Subaru managed to amble their way through. The Subaru in particular was a highlight, with the exhaust and numberplates completely submurged with only light bubbles rising to the surface! Below, a Motorist in an elder 4 x 4 tries his luck...
The lads cut down alot of stuff today, whilst myself and Dave burnt it on the fires. Not only will this open up new views from both the train and from the road, but it will also prevent us from nearly losing an eye everytime we come past on 3803!
Though most of the stuff was getting burnt I did decide to take quite a few of the normal sized logs home with me for our new woodburner. I chopped up some of it when we got back and managed to fill two large baskets with 10" cut-offs, and still having probably 50% of the logs left to cut up too! Free heat ay?!
After a good day at Carlton we decided to give in at about 4pm, a little while after the last DMU run had past us homeward bound. Passenger numbers on the train seemed impressive for the time of year and alot of good work had been completed at the chopping site so a successful day overall. Thanks to all who helped...we had a good day. Cheers guys. Sam.

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