Mem­o­ries of happy days by the reser­voir...

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

AS I tramped my old stomp­ing grounds around Bot­toms Reser­voir last week or, rather, one of my reg­u­lar Long­den­dale pa­trol-routes when I worked for North West Wa­ter in the 80s, I came over all emo­tional.

They were hal­cyon days for sure and I strode about the Val­ley a ver­i­ta­ble cross be­tween, Bill Beau­mont, Ron­nie Drew of the Dublin­ers, Oliver Reed and, I’d like to think, Thomas Hardy, the lat­ter for his love and evoca­tive de­scrip­tions of the coun­try­side and the peo­ple who live in it. Okay, I was a dreamer but they cost noth­ing and any­one can have them.

In those far off days, peo­ple were gen­er­ally not al­lowed into the reser­voir en­clo­sures and I lit­er­ally had the place to my­self and the wildlife. Ev­ery third week­end dur­ing the fish­ing sea­son, I was on duty with a great guy, the late Les Tute of Tin­twistle. He looked af­ter the bot­tom end of the val­ley, while I did the same for Wood­head and Crow­den.

Each night un­til half-an-hour af­ter sun­set, we the­o­ret­i­cally mon­i­tored the fish­er­man, and their haul of rain­bow trout. In re­al­ity, we chat­ted and laughed the days away, nipped off early and cov­ered for each other, my­self mem­o­rably on one oc­ca­sion for the band to play in Dublin and ap­pear on RTE Ra­dio. Les man­aged to get it on his por­ta­ble ra­dio and I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber how he proudly boasted that his part­ner in crime, Woody, was on na­tional ra­dio in Ire­land. He was a good man and much missed I’m sure.

One of the things that al­ways struck me was the ev­i­dence of for­mer wa­ter­men and their hand­i­work and in­deed un­be­liev­able ex­am­ples of Victorian engi­neer­ing, still pris­tine and in fine work­ing or­der over 100 years later. As an ex­am­ple, there are a se­ries of wa­ter cour­ses which run par­al­lel with the five reser­voirs in the chain.

The mill own­ers were so pow­er­ful that they de­manded th­ese sup­plies in the event of the reser­voirs dry­ing out.

Soon af­ter I be­gan, I ob­served a num­ber of up­turned 12in pipes spilling wa­ter into the ‘cour­ses’. I was amazed to dis­cover that th­ese were, in fact, gi­ant syphons which brought the wa­ter from tiny streams on the Wood­head Road side of the Reser­voirs to squeeze ev­ery last drop to keep the looms spin­ning.

Either side of th­ese wa­ter-cour­ses, the area was packed to the gun­nels with wildlife of ev­ery hue; wa­ter voles chew­ing on wa­ter­cress mind­ing their own busi­ness; shrews run­ning in long lines, nose to tail, nose to tail, like an old steam train­ing rat­tling down the tracks, snuf­fling and skit­ter­ing as they blindly fol­low.

And talk­ing of mys­ter­ies, which I wasn’t, I may have to add a touch of the Agatha Christies to my book on the val­ley when I even­tu­ally get around to writ­ing it. Solve this mys­tery and you might win a work­shop and three-course lunch at the Laugh­ing Badger Gallery.

While out walk­ing along the side of Wood­head reser­voir one day, I spot­ted a dis­carded crisp packet lodged in the long grass.

I re­call it was a Walker’s cheese and onion packet, how­ever there were no crisps in­side it, but rather the husks of 30 dung bee­tles.

Over to you – can you ex­plain this find?

Bot­toms Reser­voir, Long­den­dale

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.