My Monday walk this time was done in April a week after my last Monday walk and just three days after the quarry walk – with the continuing good weather I’ve been averaging three long walks every week. The first part of the walk was a reverse of last week’s – through the avenues, down the lane past the stables where I once worked, through the woodland and up the steep path to the farm, then once I reached the main road a short distance along and under a railway bridge took me to the long and very pleasant semi-rural lane leading to the Jumbles reservoir.
The name Jumbles first appeared in the 19th century and is a variation of the word ‘dumbles’, a northern term for a ravine-like valley with wooded sides where a fast flowing stream tumbles down. At the north end of the reservoir is the old quarry, flooded when the reservoir was constructed in the late 1960s, and beyond it there is indeed a narrow wooded valley with a stream flowing through it and into the quarry.
About halfway along the lane a gate on the right led to a path which took me down to Ousel Nest Meadows. Ousel is the old English name for the blackbird and it’s possible that in the past its cousin the Ring Ousel may have nested in the area, giving the meadows their name. As I walked towards the bottom of the meadow a flash of white caught my eye as a bird took off from somewhere and landed in a tree over on my left; I couldn’t tell what sort of bird it was as it was so far in the tree I could hardly see it so I pointed the camera, zoomed in and hoped for the best. It turned out to be a jay, quite a cute looking little thing and the first one I’ve ever actually seen.
At the bottom of the meadow the path turned to the right, going steadily downhill until I came to the first of four bridges. This took me across Bradshaw Brook past the reservoir outflow and the steep bank of the dam and at the far side a long flight of steep steps and a winding path on their right went up to the top of the hillside.
After crossing the bridge on previous occasions I’ve always gone straight up the steps but this time I decided to take the slightly easier way up the hill and use the winding path, and I was rewarded by discovering something I never knew was there. Just off the second bend in the path was a small overgrown quarry which wasn’t visible from the steps; a short narrow path led into it so I just had to take a look.
It wasn’t a big place and the quarry faces weren’t very high. Several parts had trees growing straight out of them and at one point I could hear running water; it was coming from deep within one of the quarry faces so there must have been an underground stream running through and down to the brook. It was a strange little place and it was nice to have found it but I didn’t really want to linger too long.
Leaving the quarry behind I continued up the winding path to the top of the hill and came out at the car park. This was a place which, even on a weekday, would usually have several cars parked there so it seemed strange to see it empty and deserted.
At the far side of the car park was the closed up café and information centre with the outside picnic benches just as deserted as the car park itself. Directly across the water were a bungalow and big house, both with gardens which had been landscaped by my partner several years ago. Back then the owners of the bungalow, who I knew very well, also owned the reservoir dam and I would sometimes take a short cut across it if I didn’t want to walk all the way round.
With the continuing dry sunny weather the level of the reservoir was lower than usual and a bit farther on from the café I came across a couple of places where I could leave the path and go down to small stony beaches by the water’s edge to get some photos, shots which I wouldn’t normally be able to get.
A few yards farther on from the second beach a concrete bridge spanned a small offshoot to the main reservoir and set on the grass just off the far end of the bridge was a picnic bench with access down to another small beach just behind it.
Back on the path and through a tree shaded area I passed the part of the reservoir designated as a wildlife area; with the water level being low it was possible to see the natural barrier which kept it separate from the rest of the reservoir, and just across the water and set sideways on was a row of four stone cottages with attractive gardens.
The reservoir narrowed there and up ahead on the other side I could see something red and yellow partly obscured by foliage – I couldn’t tell what it was but I didn’t remember seeing it before. Soon I came to the bridge near the old quarry but instead of crossing over I took the path past the quarry and along the riverside until I came to a waterfall, though I resisted the temptation to explore farther and returned to the bridge.
At the far side of the bridge I discovered what the red and yellow thing was – a recently installed board with a water safety device, though looking at the instructions to access it and use it made me think that whoever needed to be saved could possibly have drowned before it could be of any use.
From the bridge the path wound its way through another tree shaded area and came out close to a small private fishing lake and the stone cottages, with a small parking area, concrete slipway and a pleasant picnic/fishing area by the waterside. Several ducks were sunning themselves in the picnic area though all but one took off into the water as soon as they saw Poppie. Along with the usual mallards and swans was one white duck with red eyes and a very odd shaped head, I hadn’t a clue what it was but later information told me it was a Muscovy duck.
Past the picnic area the fourth and last bridge took me over a narrow creek with the path leading past the grounds of Jumbles Sailing Club and through another tree shaded area with more places where I could get down to the water’s edge and take another few photos.
Back through the trees for a short distance and the path veered away from the reservoir, opening out and running between hedges on one side and the high fence and stone wall enclosing the gardens of the big house I could see from across the water. Near the end of the path was a very attractive timber-built barn erected only within the last few years; it replaced a huge and ugly green corrugated metal barn where my partner and I used to keep and work on our vintage tractors. I don’t know what the new place is used for but it looks much nicer than the old one.
Just past the barn the path came out onto the lane and I was heading back in the direction of the main road, and just before the gate leading to Ousel Nest Meadows I spotted some lovely bright flowers in the grounds of one of the three large Ousel’s Nest houses. Not far from the end of the lane another lane joined it on the right and in the small triangle between the two was a tree surrounded by a hotch-potch of colourful flowers and foliage worth a couple of shots.
Those were to be my last photos of the walk; it had been a long one this time, 7.2 miles from home and back. It was nice to see the Jumbles area coming alive in the fine spring sunshine, I’d got some good photos and even found somewhere I didn’t know existed, so my afternoon had been very enjoyable and worthwhile.