Sunday 16 January 2005 at the Mendip Vale "down" distant signal.  A cracking start is made on the footpath with the removal of soil and the outline of the path cut into the bank to form a level incline.  Nick Waton with a Scythe, Dick Masters and John Chisholm with a shovel and Gavin Moore with the mattock. .. and this was just a mornings work!  Whilst on the bank, "Gangers" Rory and Tom start clearing dead branches More pictures of back breaking work!  The team of seven managed to form about 100 foot of pathway up one of the steeper parts of the bank during the days stint.  Out of camera and at the top of the bank Colin was having just as much success. Sauntering by the worksite came two men in orange.  Tel and Keith were on a trackwalk checking keys, fishplates bolts etc. After the first day of swift progress the ground looked footpath like as this shot shows Day two on the footpath, Saturday 22 January, and the miserable weather has curtailed the enthusiasm of the working party.  Nick Waton cuts a solitary line in the mud as the other members shelter..... ... Shelter being the Engineers train stabled on the main line.  A roaring fire is evident by the smoke from the chimney and Nick Thayer takes respite on the Veranda Inside the fire is roaring, the saucepan of homemade vegetable soup has just come of the boil and the brake van is littered with the debris of lunchtime and the "gangers" who are onboard sheltering A brief lull in the rain and twins Alex and Chris get stuck in to some earth removal. Despite an impressive burst of flame, no amount of encouragement, fluid or otherwise, would make the fire burn in the wet conditions.  Time for home.  A wet team return to Cranmore at a leisurely pace in the engineer's train hauled by resident 08, nr 08032, deputising for an ill Sentinel PBA 39. Another day and another attack at the footpath with work concentrating at Mendip Vale.  As the Engineer`s Train arrives at the Terminus, the advance party of ESR Chairman Dick Masters is spotted adopting a supervisory role with a notebook! Sadly the weather deteriorated quite quickly!  With work concentrating at clearing the route of the steps and at high level by the fence line, the Gangers are seen tidying up debris on the platform. ... before ferrying it into the adjacent wagon.  Dave Bartlett is caught in camera after dumping half a tree he had found! Scaling down his ambitions Dave Bartlett finds some smaller material! Meanwhile in the distant yonder Nick Thayer and his trusty bowsaw work their collective way along the fence line in the rain. As the rain got heavier, the crew were "forced" to return to the warmth of the Toad Brake Van, its stove and the pot of soup bubbling away.  Such hardship! Part of the days tasks were to clear as much of the debris along the bank behind the platform, clearing dead wood and twigs.  This shot shows the before and after.  With the Sentinel diesel running low on fuel and the desire to give the Yankee Tank a run on the mainline for the first time since New Year`s Day, the Engineers Train provided a perfect opportunity to stretch 30075 wheels.  The ensemble, complete with Driver Masters and Fireman Paul Ebsworth is pictured waiting for the off Another shot of 30075, this time from the platform Part of the tasks were to get the area ready for forming the steps up to the top of the bank.  The cleared site is ready and waiting.... What a difference two weeks make from the previous picture!  The lower portion of the new steps were put in place on the 12 February by Dick Masters and his team.  The upper steps were cut in place by a group of Soldiers from the Royal Signals as part of the Military Assistance to the Civil Community Programme. Likewise at the top of the bank, splendid progress had been made hacking back and clearing the undergrowth.  The unobstructed route is looking west towards where the steps are coming up. Looking eastwards, a pile of wood lies waiting for burning. It is clear that the footpath will open up a considerable number of viewing and photographic opportunities not currently available. As part of the overall tidying up at Mendip Vale, Roger Cooke takes a chainsaw to some rotten tree trunks lying on the lineside after they fell down in a storm in late 2004. The offending logs are loaded onto one of the "tube" wagons ready to be disposed of. As keen as ever, Roger`s attention shifts to the top of the bank where dangerous branches or limbs that foul the footpath route are cut down. Waste not want not!  As part of the theme of creating a rustic footpath and slightly taken aback by the dainty nature of the steps, the decision is made to reuse some of the chunky logs as part of a retaining wall to widen the pathway out where it has fallen away.  This photo is a perfect illustration of this. The finished article looking something like this. The Soldiers hard work and enthusiasm make short work of the forming of a retaining wall and steps in a depression just off the main flight of steps.  A hive of activity is evident. And is still evident.... THe finished article looking just like this.  The outline of the steps has been formed only.  We ran out of the wood and stakes! Closer to Maesdown Road Bridge, a second party is making short work of one of the major slopes.  After evening out the route, a decision is made to cut steps into the side at right angles to the route to avoid a long, expensive and time consuming retaining wall construction. A close up of the steps And a view from below looking towards Mendip Vale The visit by the Royal Signals conincided with Spring Civil Week.  Spot resleepering was the order of the day, but not before part of the 500 tonnes of ballast donated by Foster Yeoman was spread trackside ready for tamping.  The new ballast is readily visible in this shot The next major task.  With work well on the way at Mendip Vale, and likley to concentrate there for a while longer, the next major task will be the forming of the path on a shelf at the foot of the embankment.  Linked to that will be essential drainage works linking a new and improved ESR Drainage Channel with the existing field Land drains and feeding them through this culvert!  Lots of (wet) work in store! Following the soldiers work on the Friday, Roger Cooke`s work brushcutting on the Saturday, a major burning sessio took place on the Sunday.  Here Ken Slade, Rory Edwards and Dick Masters are pictured burning a large pile of brush by some newly formed steps above Mendip Vale Platform. The end of the days work sees the 08 shunter arrive to pick up the Engineers Train watched by tired workers. Work continued with brush cutting on the 12 March both using mechanical and non-mechanical means.  ESR Chairman Dick Masters proudly wielded his ancient slasher and pitchfork that he had bought at the Cranmore Clearout the previous week, whilst in the distance "Agent Orange" (aka H&S Director Roger Cooke) is seen with his brush cutter. Ex GWR Collett nr 5637 drifts past Roger Cooke whilst giving "Driver Experience" lessons to members of the 5637 Locomotive Owners Group Further assistance from the Royal Signals came on the 18 March 2005 with work concentrating East of Mendip Vale towards the occupation bridge.  In this shot the pathway is dug back and levelled beyond the groundframe hut Another shot similar to the last looking towards the Occupation Bridge This shot shows the scale of foliage that needed cutting back and the number of bonfires taken to clear the debris! A start is made on forming the path with 08 Shunter "Mendip" in the background The Working Party from the Royal Signals pose against Class 08 Shunter "Mendip" after a hard days work on the Footpath  A view from the 12:30 Train as it rounds the curve into Mendip Vale Station, showing the work carried out by the Royal Signals the previous week. Some groundworks were necessary to widen the path at high level above the ground frame hut. A view from the top of the path looking down towards the occupation bridge.  Contrast this with an earlier shot from the same location to get an idea of the sheer amount of work necessary From one of the many new photographic locations opened up by the footpath,  30075 is seen running round her train. .. before setting back onto her train.  In a couple of weeks, the foliage will probably prevent another shot like this until late Autumn As the train returns to Cranmore, this shot taken as the train crosses the occupation bridge shows the amount of clearance of dead wood that has taken place.