Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A Boxing day Walk

I felt I needed out of the house for a walk on Boxing day, too much Christmas dinner had taken it's toll. I thought I'd have a walk round the footpaths that skirt the village Cholsey I live in and have a look at some of the flooded fields I could see when driving down the Westfield road. First port of call was the Bullshole a place I had spent many childhood hours playing in the brook.

Not quite the Bulls hole but Cholsey Brook which the Bulls hole joins over on the left.

Cholsey brook again where it flows under the bunk line, the bunk line is an old railway which ran from Cholsey Station to Wallingford. Beaching closed it in 1961. This part of the brook was culverted sometime in the 1960's. The brook normally flows about 30cm lower than it is at the moment.

The Bulls Hole which most likely got its name from the cattle that used to drink here. As children we used to play and paddle in the water during the summer taking picnics to eat. It's fed from the brook further near the Lees in Cholsey and runs the edge of a field before running through a culvert under the main London to Bristol Railway (GWR) which can be made out in the photo. Cattle no longer graze in the field so the Bulls home has become very over grown now.
If you carry on along the footpath by the brook you will come to a long tunnel under the railway which will bring you out at position where you can take the footpath to either the Lees or across the fields to Lollongdon.

The railway embankment  the tunnel went through is over on the left in the distance, you cross a paddock then over the brook again before reaching this is the muddy footpath which looks like it was flooded a couple of days previous.

Further along the footpath you cross a track then follow a hedge past the pylon you see in the distance. This is looking back the way I came and the house over on the left is Little Lollingdon

After going through a hedge you will need to go along this footpath which as you can see is quite flooded

and over to the left you can see the field is flooded as well with seagulls feeding in the shallow water. The floods can be seen from the Westfield road as you drive down.

Crossing a drainage ditch you can hear water running and looking see the water draining from the fields into the ditch.

The ditch which will flow eventually back into Cholsey Brook, the plank I think may be part of the old bridge that was here.

Walking on past Lollingdon and up the hill you can get a good view of the Manor which is one of the few Moated Manors country and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
 Near the track you can see some of the trees which have had carvings done over the years, I wonder who MG 1959 is?
 From here you can get a good view of the flooded fields which are just outside Cholsey.

I headed back down the hill to take the bridleway back to Cholsey  but it is worth stopping for a look at Lollingdon Manor. 

 Along the bridleway you will pass Lollingdon spring which is where Cholsey Brook rises and is fed by the water that filters through the chalk from the downs

If you look you can see the water bubbling up through the bottom.

From the springs you walk along the bridleway to Cholsey past Westfield farm
 and go along this part of the bridleway where you come out

 at these farm buildings which have now been made into these two sets of units.

 The barns once looked like this and were in the stage of nearly collapsing with a couple which did just that.

 After following Cow Lane a short distance you get back on the bridleway which has this ancient ditch beside it, on the other side it is rumored  there was a nunnery and later the Abbot of Reading had a summer residence there.
Carry on the bridleway past the Elms and Pancroft Farm which was over on the right there, now it looks more like a scrapyard with old cars and trucks laying round the place. Behind me out of site is a bridge which takes the Main railway across the bridleway where you walk under to come back out at Westend in Cholsey. That was one of the short walks you can take in Cholsey, I will write another on a later date.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Wallingford Bypass

It's now nearly 20 years since the bypass round Wallingford was built. It took the over stressed road which went through the town and over Wallingford Bridge. The bypass started at just outside Wallingford heading towards Hithercroft, Winterbrook and crossing the river to go through Mongewell before joining with the Reading road.
It cut through three roads and has five roundabouts to negotiate. When I first noticed that work was about to start I decided to take photo's of the work and follow the progress. I took photo's every week from various vantage points though failed to take any of the start and end of the bypass.

This was the first I knew the bypass was going to be built, Posts going up along with a fence.
 Across over on the Reading road cabins had gone up  and construction machines arrived.

It was not long before that you could see the ground had been scraped up 

Over the weekends the machines lay idle till  the Monday morning when they started work again.

 One of the first things that was done was the forming of two roundabouts ab the bottom of the Wallingford road at Winterbrook, they were to become the Winterbrook Roundabouts.

The Reading road and Wallinford road would change and a new bit of history started.

It was not long before the roundabouts were in place and the Wallingford road was 400 yards shorter. The mini was what I used to drive around in

The completed roundabout on the Wallingford road with the new road of the bypass to the right.

Just off  Winterbrook towards the river work was going on building the road and bridge that would take the Bypass over the Thames, the first new bridge in a long time. Soe of the first things you noticed going up were some concrete structures which would be part of the bridge ramp and support.

The first cut of the new road to be.

Piles being sunk deep into the ground for the bridge supports along with a service road.

These were the foundations for the flood relief sections of the ramp .

Rebar reinforcing and concrete.

getting to the right hight now.

The finished item before the ramp was built

Filling in the ramp between the two flood reliefs , I was told this was the ash from Didcot Power Station that was used here.

This is what it ended up looking like and it does flood through both of them.
While all that was going on preparation work for the  bridge itself was happening on both sides of the River Thames.
Here we look towards the Mongewell side of the river.

The main bridge support by the river went in

Then the bridge sections started to arrive

Then the crane which in this photo is stuck as the service road collapsed


But they got it out and managed to lower the sections in place

The last sections being lowered in place around 10 o clock at night

and bolted together by some very brave riggers.

It was a freezing night and there was a rescue boat on hand in case one of the riggers fell in, lucky it was not needed.

The Thames had a new bridge at last.
Might add it was not long before people were going for a walk along it
Today the bypass is used by thousands of cars,vans and lorries the drivers who probably never give it a thought as to what the place used to look like.

The bypass looking towards Winterbrook Bridge, no trace of the service road exists now

The Winterbrook Roundabouts, this one is at the bottom of the Wallingford road where it cut through it. It was one of my reference points
  The bypass looking towards Hithercroft where it crosses the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway

and the bridge looks like this now blended into the landscape.