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Friday, 31 May 2019

Meandering Surprise


Cheddar Reservoir ©Morwhenna Woolcock

Do you know where your nearest reservoir is? Have you even been to explore it?

Not the most obvious of places for a creative adventure I grant you, but I've become rather intrigued by them as I live close to one and there's at least five others within driving distance. What springs to your mind when you think about these humanmade bodies of water?

Last week I had an spare day so to speak. I’d taken the day off to be an extra on a new TV show, that didn’t happen in the end, so decided to go for a mini adventure. 

I'd bought a set of OS maps for my local area last year and started looking for interesting places to meander around. One place that’s been on my list for quite a while is Cheddar Reservoir. Looking at it on the map it looks pretty uninspiring. However, it’s near Axbridge which is known for its fine medieval square [apparently] so my curiosity was piqued.

©Morwhenna Woolcock
And I have to tell you - I was surprised with what I found.

The sun shone as I parked up in Axbridge and began with a little wander around there, which didn’t take long. I marvelled at the building known as King John’s Hunting lodge [all wonky and intriguing which has absolutely nothing to do with King John who lived about 200 years before the building existed. More likely, the volunteer warden told me, was some canny marketing!!]. Went up to the church which is mentioned at great length in my Somerset book from 1954 and was impressed by the beautiful ceiling and generally soaked in the atmosphere - which on a Wednesday afternoon, was relaxed.

Then set off to find the reservoir which according to my phone was a 20 min walk away. Walking there rather than driving meant I noticed some other interesting things – a potential plot of land for sale and people selling honey and tomato plants on the roadside. The tree lined entry to the reservoir was very inviting and led up to a vast open expanse of water and an intake of breath moment. I hadn’t expected that.

As I followed the flat gravel path that circles the edge of the reservoir, 2.2 miles apparently, most of the time was spent gazing at the views, watching sheep relaxing, following a lady on horseback, working out what hills I could see were – Crooks peak, Glastonbury Tor and the deep gash in the hills that indicated it was Cheddar Gorge and chatting to anyone else who happened to be around.

It was a glorious day, so that helped, but I hadn’t expected such views and the feeling of expansiveness you get as you walk around the reservoir.


The Old Drugstore Gallery in Axbridge [no, it's not made of cheddar cheese ;-)] 
©Morwhenna Woolcock
I discovered that this reservoir was actually built much earlier than I’d thought. Planning began in 1927, work was abandoned in 1936 due to severe weather and it was finally completed in 1937. It was the first British reservoir to permit sailing in 1950 and completely froze over during the big freeze in 1962/3.

Wildlife wise there were ducks, cormorants, butterflies, sparrows, magpies, wagtails, rooks, jackdaws all enjoying the space at the same time as me. It was all rather idyllic  and I’d stop every now an again to take in the views around me. If you ignored the concrete edging and looked across the water to the hills – you could in fact be on the edges of a beautiful lake, say in Italy…

I enjoyed the meander much more than I imagined I would, so it’s always worth just going to have a look as you never really know what you’ll find.

Is there somewhere you've been meaning to explore that's on your doorstep - how about going on your own creative adventure this weekend? I'd love to hear where you go and what you discover!
Happy Adventuring!

Morwhenna
xx

PS The Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild starts tomorrow [01 June] are you taking part? #30dayswild 



The church ceiling - very impressive don't you think? ©Morwhenna Woolcock

High Street, Axbridge ©Morwhenna Woolcock

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