Rising of The Waters

     
 

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 The scene above shows the plug set and the waters approaching Chapel hill for the first time in June 1940, several days after this shot was taken, the whole area would be covered with water and would not show themselves again until 1973, My first real memories of the area were during the great drought of 76 at the age of 18, I was watching the news on Border TV when they showed views  of the valley.

 The next day I set off on foot from my home town of Kendal, along the A6, and left down along the breathtaking scenery of the Longsleddale valley, stopping off to cool my feet in the river Sprint at Sadgill Bridge, from here my journey took me up and over the Gatesgarth pass, half way down the other side, I stopped to rest and take a cool drink from my flask and savour the views, sitting with hands upon my head and back against a large rock the heat of the morning sun beating down upon me, I closed my eyes for a moment and slipped into a calm, when I was woken suddenly by a rustling sound on my left, still in a daze I noticed a large brown dog walking past me a few yards away, and thought any second now the owner would come walking past, a minute or so past by and no one materialised.

 By now I was fully conscious, when I looked again the dog turned out to be no other than Mr Fox, he never saw me resting there, so I called out to him, to my surprise he stopped looked back at me, turned away and walked off without any concern whatsoever, looking at my watch I had been sitting there for about an hour, so I sorted out my things and set off again.

 I soon covered the last part of the pass, to be greeted with an arid valley bottom, there were already a few folk around even at 8.30 in the morning, one thing which I noticed immediately, were the streams that gushed during wetter times, were now a mere trickle, it is said that on this day around 80 million gallons a day were being sucked out of the reservoir, with only a million gallons going back in, and the water level in the lake was below half full.

On reaching the car park, I walked across to the old road, which could be seen by its now crumbling walls heading due North, walking down the valley I noticed the first of the ruins on my left, all of the places were unknown to me back then, which turned out to be the small holding of Braken Howe Farm after another quarter of a mile I reached the extensive ruins of the Dun Bull Hotel on my right, and opposite on my left was a level area the which turned out to be the old tennis court, which already had grass growing on it.

Now the road sloped gently down to the left, with much better walls on either side, in the distance I could see people standing on a small Bridge with the beck running slowly under, standing on the bridge looking down stream, I noticed the many tree stumps which lined the banks, one could easily imagine the beautiful scene it once had been, after crossing the bridge the road climbed slightly up on to a small hillock, with many more ruins aloft on my left, a large concrete trough surrounded by a cobbled yard was still visible, this was the complex of Chapel Hill Farm, with the ruins of Holy Trinity Church on the right hand side.

I now walked the small distance down the other side of Chapel Hill, reaching the waters edge a hundred yards or so away, in the droughts to come, a little more was revealed each time, with Riggindale Bridge in 84 and 95 many other dwellings along the western shore came intoview, here the walls were their full height and in as good a condition as when the rising waters covered them, due solely to people not being able to touch them.

 The entire old road has never been seen to date, but as the population of Manchester grows and the demand for water increases ,another long drought like the one in 76 should uncover everything for sure.

 
     
 

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