Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Bad Road Blues

I got up early this morning to a depressing sight, not only was it very gloomy but with overcast skies and a N. wind it wasn't very pleasant. A bit later, whilst walking along the seawall of the reserve and with the N. wind strengthening, it was bloody cold after recent days - not as cold as this but I wasn't very happy.

I couldn't help thinking of a couple of recent blogs where, despite only a few days of warm summer weather the writers were already complaining of it being too hot for birdwatching and needing to get under some trees for shade! I could imagine them getting up this morning and gleefully pulling on their winter coats again and rushing out into the cold and the gloom, happy little winter bloggers!

Anyway enough of that, today I want to mention the Harty Road, also above, which as the majority of birdwatchers who use it will know, is a tad pot-holed and worn out. Driving along it is similar to holding a pneumatic drill and if you wonder why people who live there stutter, try driving along it and talking at the same time - you'd stutter too!
Just recently in our local paper, the landlord of the Ferry House Inn at the end of the road, complained about the condition of the road and how the failure of Kent Highways to repair it was costing him valuable motorised trade - I'll return to him at the end!

The road is in a diabolical state, badly pot-holed and with either side compressed low to leave a higher ridge down the middle that regularly removes exhausts and engine covers. But is reparing it at great expense worthwhile, or a waste of time, let's look at its history.
I've scanned a piece of one of my 1907 maps of the area, which should enlarge if you double click on it. At the bottom is the word "pump" - this is where the pumps and the Raptor Viewing Mound are currently. Running away from there on the map, towards Capel Corner, are both Capel Fleet and a Counter Wall and the Counter Wall is what is now the Harty Road. Around that time and before, Capel Fleet regularly flooded and burst its banks and earth bunds or counter walls were built either side to prevent the low lying farmland nearby from becoming flooded. Obviously this high and dry earth bank soon became the obvious route for farm hands and horse and carts to cross the marsh and it gradually became part of the recognised track across Harty. Presumably as motor vehicles and tar macadam came along it was gradually improved for their benefit and it became a road. However, the road, if it can be called a road, never evolved as something capable of withstanding the weight and width of the modern day agricultural plant that use it on a daily basis.

Plant with tyres a yard wide and two yards high often use it, as do countless huge lorries and the effect of their weight on the outer edges of what is still just a simple earth bank underneath, has had the effect of pushing the edges downwards and the middle to badly crack up. Just look at a couple of examples below.

So, with the knowledge that this plant is always going to use that "road" will repairing it at rate-payer's expense make any difference, unlikely if previous attempts are anything to go by.
Should the two farming families whose plant continue to damage the road, be expected to contribute towards the repair costs? - it does seem a fair solution. Oh, and by the way, the landlord of the pub is part of one of those farming families, a bit of a vicious circle really.


  1. Ah! thats better, a northerly :-)

  2. Yes, so don't forget to wear a hat, it'll be a bit cold on top.

  3. Hi Derek.
    You don't have to tell me about the state of the road. It is a shame that it has been let go. Lets hope something get's done soon.

  4. I was travelling on a 'road' in just such a state last week, quite honestly it was so bad that it would have been quicker to get out and walk!