29-May-2009 -- The planning for this visit goes back to the 12th January this year, but the floating of ideas began back on the 15th July 2008.
You know what they say - all good things come to those who wait!
Back to January then and Wojciech makes his reservations with Wizzair, to arrive on Thursday 28th May and then leave on the Saturday. More about that later.
Armed with the travel schedule I searched for cheap hotel rooms, knowing that if you book far enough in advance then you can get a room for £19/night with Travelodge.
I roughed out an itinerary and booked to stay at the M18/M180 services motel on the Thursday evening. The intention being to collect Wojciech from the airport, overnight there then the next day visit 54-01 & 54-02.
Back down to overnight at my place, with Wojciech staying at the same place that Dave (Patton) stayed at last year here at Rushden.
I had decided that for this visit that instead of taking the "traditional" route in from the South that we would attempt to come in from the North. Quite a bit further to walk but most of it along paths.
When I visited here last year with Dave we saw a sign indicating who owned the land and I knew who owned the reservoirs. I corresponded with Yorkshire Water by email and duly got permission to use their car parks, though where they are though....
I then phoned the estate office of the Bolton Abbey estate, home to the Duke of Devonshire. This covers nearly 30,000 acres and the land was first ceded in 1154 by Lady Alice de Rumilly.
After I had explained the project and given assurances that we would assume liability for any mishaps permission was duly given to access the grounds of the estate. I got this in writing but didn't take the letter with us, in hindsight this was to prove a mistake.
Then in March I received an email from Hattie Garlick, a journalist with The Times in London. She had come across the project and could I fill her in a bit. A couple of cogs slipped into place and I duly extended an invitation to join us for an international visit, this was eagerly accepted.
With things slotting nicely into place we then discovered the 'joys' of budget airlines. Wojciech emailed me to say the the airline had changed the timetable and everything was now brought forward by one day!
The schedule needed to be re jigged so I sat down with a pen and paper. I ended up keeping the Thursday hotel the same. The Wednesday night we would stay at my house, visit North Wales during Thursday and Yorkshire on the Friday. Update everyone on the new schedule and wait for the end of May to come around....
....having left 54N-01W earlier this morning we head out West. I had prepared some maps and a detailed examination of the area in Google Earth (GE) showed three potential routes to the top reservoir. GE also showed buildings at both reservoirs with cars parked by both. It seemed a reasonable assumption that these were the car parks referred to - a wrong assumption as it turned out....
I had selected the most Northerly entrance as the most direct and we decided to check it out before heading to Skipton to collect Hattie from the rail station. The gate had a sign - "No unauthorised vehicles" - but that was fine we did have the required permission.
It was a two mile drive up an ungraded road, at the end of which was the upper reservoir and wonderful old building - it's the tiny white dot at the top right of the reservoir. Picture was taken from over a mile away. We went to introduce ourselves, but despite there being a van there nobody was in. We'd try again later.
Nip on down to Skipton (it's market day and so rather busy) and to the station to meet Hattie. It's like meeting and old friend as she instantly puts you at ease and is great fun to talk to and a pleasure to spend time with. Our photographer, Colin, is coming up from the Liverpool area by car. Once all introductions are done I lead us back to the parking by the reservoir.
There is still nobody in. At this point I realise that I have left the letter from the estate office at home. Ooops but I still have the email from Yorkshire Water.
Kit up, load up with water as it is a very warm and sunny day, off we set across the reservoir. The reservoir is the earthen dam type and has been here since the late 19th century. I had pre warned Hattie that it would be wet where we were going despite what the weather might be like. We had walking boots, Hattie had trainers, someone is going to get very wet feet.
The first 1.5 miles are a nice lovely walk over the moors. Up a nice gentle slope and along paths. All too soon though it is time to set a way point in the Garmin and to strike off through the heather. Funnily enough Colin seems to relish this part, must be the outdoors sort.
The last 100 yards are approached through the bog and it gets steadily wetter and wetter underfoot. Very careful placement of your feet is needed to avoid sinking into the bog.
We edge closer and closer and I try and point out to Hattie the "dry" parts and how to spot the places that you don't want to stand :-)
We gingerly approach the point, doing the confluence dance until Hattie announces we are on the spot. Document it and take the time to savour the moment. Colin has to leave (more of which later) and we set off for Deer Gallows and the magnificent view down the other side of the hill. It is well worth the extra half hour that it takes.
All photo's now done we head off back to the car...where the fun started! As we approached the car a chap came out of the house somewhat agitated. It appears that we didn't park on the Yorkshire water car park after all, despite it being next to the reservoir and the only place where you could park. We had parked on the grounds of the estate and strange cars get noticed very quickly.
What didn't help was that when Colin had left he saw the head ranger but didn't bother to stop. Very suspicious in their eyes, understandably as the site is a special area. When I explained that I had been granted permission from the estate office and mentioned my contacts name things got a lot more pleasant. We had a nice chat and then we had to leave.
Back to Skipton to drop Hattie off and then to the airport to drop Wojciech off.
Moral of the tale - if you have permission in writing, make sure you take it with you.