Works at Luxulyan Valley
Published: 26 November 2020
Luxulyan Valley -
Landscape and enhancement works
In recent weeks, work
has commenced on a number of activities within the World Heritage Site which
will result in subtle, but meaningful, improvements to the visitor experience,
the biodiversity, and long term management within the Luxulyan Valley.
The Cormac design team
have been tasked with producing detailed designs for improvements to the
existing carpark at Blackhills, together with investigating the possibility of
providing additional parking in the currently overgrown site opposite.
Visitors will notice
that bramble clearance has been undertaken which has allowed access for a
topographical survey to be completed. A tree survey, commenced at an earlier
date in order to draw up a comprehensive 20 year management plan, also covers
this area. Plans will shortly be drawn up, proposing new surface treatments to
the car parking that will solve the problem of uneven ground and poor drainage,
whilst maintaining a sense of rural isolation befitting the site. Minimal tree
works are envisaged, but where necessary, poor quality specimens, particularly
Ash, which are susceptible to die-back, will be removed to facilitate these
improvements. To compensate for any losses, native Oak will be planted to
encourage a more age diverse tree structure.
In conjunction with these
works, it is proposed that new steps are provided to the leat adjacent to the
carpark, and a bound gravel path provided to a proposed picnic area between the
carpark and the viaduct. A natural glade exists quite close to the carpark
which is thought to be ideal for this purpose. Given the level nature of the
ground, fully accessible picnic tables, together with chunky timber seating,
are proposed for this area.
The possibility of
providing a ramped access path to the leat avoiding the steps, is being considered
which could allow easier access for many.
Clearly there are
severe difficulties, some insurmountable, in providing full wheelchair access
to the pathways alongside the leats. However, an in-depth survey of all paths
within the valley between Blackhills and Ponts Mill has recently been
completed. This has identified areas and specific locations where remediation
is required, and funding is in place to carry out these works.
The timing of these
path improvements will be co-ordinated with leat and penstock repairs, which
initially identified in general terms by earlier consultants, have recently
been the subject of detailed investigation by Cormac engineers. Repair works
are likely to commence in the next few months once consultation with World Heritage
Site officers, the local countryside ranger and Cormac’s engineers and
landscape architect have been completed. Again, it is fortunate that funds are
in place to commence these vital works which will enable the leats to function
as originally intended.
In the vicinity of the
Ponts Mill viaduct near the bottom of the incline plane, work is underway by
Cormac to complete the stabilisation of the the embankment slope of the
elevated Par river. Temporary measures were put in place some time ago to
support the vulnerable river channel from breaching in times of flood. Recent
works will provide long term bank stabilisation, through the use of structural
membranes, backfill and hidden drainage overflow pipe work.
Engineering works are
well advanced, and landscape reinstatement works have recently been agreed
which will create an open glade of meadow grassland with a wildflower
component. The opportunity to create such a setting has been welcomed by
ecologists and local volunteers, since a glade provides a space within which
butterflies and moths can flourish, and bats and owls can hunt for food
unhindered by dense tree cover.
Once engineering works
are complete around the end of the year, the grassland seeding will take place
in early Spring. Additionally, vegetation management will be carried out
alongside the path adjacent to the site. Understorey shrub planting of Hazel,
Thorn and Willow will augment species variety and improve opportunities for
In response to the
obvious need for additional seating in the valley, a trackside accessible
picnic table and a chunky timber bench will be provided in this location, which
has the added advantage of the imposing railway viaduct to appreciate.
Over the coming months,
long awaited investment and enhancement will become evident in the valley, and
long term woodland management initiated. Allinterventions will be carefully considered in order to maintain the
integrity and sense of place which those who use and appreciate the valley
expect to be protected and managed for future generations.
Cormac Solutions, Ltd.