View from my picnic /writing spot

This is mine, all mine. Not a person in sight. I sit on the bank, close my eyes and listen to the silence. Suddenly the zzzz of a bee rushes past my ear, intent upon its search for nectar. The silence returns until I hear a soft low drone. It takes me a moment to realise that it’s a plane passing. I’m so unused to planes in the sky these days. Where’s it going? Who is it taking? As it’s gentle drone fades voices are carried to me across the silent water, borne to me on a barely susceptible zephyr. I see two dots climbing up the path leading to Stoodley Pike, a path that took Sarah and I for our first visit to the monument in 2017. the two dots are quietly locked in conversation yet I can hear them clearly across the water. A moment later two Canada geese perform their mating ritual in the water only a few feet from my feet. Are they oblivious to my presence or are they demonstrating their prowess? A butterfly lands close beside me, the second one I’ve seen this week – this year.

The landscape before me is still wearing its autumn colours – gold, brown, tan, orange indicating the boggy patches of reeds. The walls criss crossing the moorland are mostly derelict now, unwanted, superfluous, jaded, but they tell of a time when this was prime sheep rearing land, when adjacent farmers needed to keep their fields separated from each other for there were 17 farmsteads that once lay under this reservoir. One of them belonged to an ancestor of mine. (See previous blog:

The teeth of these unkempt walls are jagged and tumbled as they outline each nook and cranny of the hillside, but the teeth of the wall around the reservoir are carefully and precisely manicured, the product of some master orthodontist.

I can see two buildings in the entire 180 degrees of my vision. One is Pasture farm, close to the dam and though the house is occupied and its garden a painter’s paradise of Spring colour the adjacent barn with its circular unseeing eyes always gives me the creeps.

The other house farther up the hill is totally derelict and when Sarah and I passed close to it on our return journey from The Pike we could see that the tops of its walls have been topped with stones, preserving the building in a state of arrested decay. The spirits of the farmers and their families still live on in the skeletal trees that dot the landscape, in the bone-like reeds that sway in a ghost -like dance that will never cease.

Not perhaps ‘La cathedrale Engloutie’ but ceratinly ‘Les Fermes Engloutie’