In stark contrast to the mountain bike excitement at the Hadleigh Olympic venue , Wallasea was a calm haven in the summer sunshine this weekend. However, this time of year is always tinged with a little sadness for me, as the vast crop fields are harvested and the buzz of insects and chirp of the corn buntings is dispersed to the seawalls and further afield.
This year is different though, with the contractors now in full flow preparing for the arrival of the first ship of earth from Crossrail's London tunnels. I am often asked why we need all this material, and I thought this picture, showing huge dumper trucks with the seawall behind them, would illustrate it perfectly!
The island is on average 2 metres below sealevel, having eroded over the years of intensive farm activity, so in order to restore the old marshland the landscape must be built up in carefully planned, natural levels gently sloping up to the new seawall bunds which will eventually provide extensive foot and cycle path access to many areas of the island.Crossrail's first ship will arrive on Monday August 20th, when the unloading facility - the pontoon which arrived at Easter and the 800 metre conveyor belt which has been under construction since last Autumn - will be tested and seen in action for the very first time. For now, most of the work will be at the far eastern end of the island, well away from our car park and where most walkers venture, but you may follow the public footpath along the northern seawall and view this amazing partnership of engineering and conservation, cross over the structure on the foot bridge and continue to the north eastern corner to witness history in the making.