DIGS workday Rodwell Cutting on 29 April 2019

Report by G S Pettifer, 10 May 2019

Looking upstream towards the former boggy area immediately after clearance work

Dorset’s Important Geological Sites group (DIGS) held a workday in the Rodwell Cutting on Monday 29 April. This site has been designated as a Local Geological Site (LGS) for its important exposures of Jurassic Corallian strata and for its unusual tufa-depositing springs (Dripping Well). The aim was to clear silt and debris from the stream ditch flowing north from the springs and also to de-silt a separate potential small spring-fed pond set back from the tarmac path on the west side of the cutting just before the old station platform. Using draw hoes, the DIGS team cleared a section of the ditch and the poorly-drained boggy area beneath the springs at the summit of the former railway. This work forms part of the Site Management Plan agreed with FoRT.

Many submerged branches and small logs were removed. Some of these were placed against the steep edge of the path and covered with silt ‘beaver-dam style’ to make a slightly raised porous border along the path. The team were pleased to find that they had created a small surface flow from the springs towards the main stream channel and that the boggy area had become a pool of standing water (Photo 1). Time ran out: further ditch clearance and desilting the potential wildlife pond downstream will have to be carried out at a later date.

The DIGS team thought it would be unnecessary to use mechanical equipment to clear any remaining silt and then to backfill with gravel. Such work would destroy the informal log and wood chip access path beneath the dripping well, destroy potential wetland habitats and eventual clogging of the gravel would be likely to have a detrimental effect on drainage. It would be a much better option to continue to use a soft engineering approach using simple hand tools. The performance of the work carried out by DIGS will be monitored and modified as necessary.

Regular users of the trail have commented on the disappearance of watercress below the Dripping Well. Watercress has now been reintroduced using descendants of the original plants. In addition to watercress, attempts should be made to establish other appropriate native wetland plants, such as water mint and brooklime, to provide soft barriers, visual interest and additional wildlife habitats.

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