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I LOVE MY BIKE... | by summonedbyfells
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I LOVE MY BIKE...

And why not just look at the places it brings me to! This is Cow Green Reservoir the source of the mighty river Tees and lying between here and my (proper) home near Stockton the Tees waters tumble down the black-rocked cascades of Cauldron Snout, a violent precursor to the even more impressive waterfall of High Force a dozen miles east near Middleton-in-Teesdale; a thoroughly pleasant walk shared by all who trek the Pennine Way or the Teesdale Way. I can remember how the building of the dam created a public outcry during the 1960's but despite a parliamentary inquiry and sustained opposition from conservationists and botanists the construction was given the go-ahead and the reservoir was officially "opened" in 1971. Its about two miles in length and drains a vast catchment area and is about as sparsely populated as any part of England, so the argument seemed persuasive. But this land was host to rare species of alpine flora and a rescue operation was set in hand to physically remove as many plants as possible, from memory of something read earlier about it all, many thousands of plants were saved in this way. The ICI complex and the developing chemical industries downstream at Middlesbrough (where river and sea meet) needed the water, and in economic matters, conservation often gets short shrift. And so it has transpired as now forty odd years later ICI has disappeared from Teesside (and 7,000 jobs with it), and bulk chemical production in Middlesbrough has gone too in the way of the great Victorian Iron-Masters Balkow and Vaughan before them. Time creates her myriad victims and the Spring Gentians, Mountain Pansies and the lovely Birds Eye Primrose and legions of lesser things have paid their price too. But at least the Tees has been tamed, the dam controls its outflow and the regular floods of yesteryear have been banished from the life-cycle of the communities along the river's banks, so perhaps a good thing comes out of a bad one?

This is a wonderful place to spend the night. The head-wall of the dam can just be seen at the end of the reservoir, beneath it Cauldron Snout descends to the gentler terrain of upper Teesdale where farming and sheep have knocked nineteenth century lead-mining from the top perch in the economic pecking-order. This dun-moorland landscape is if not all; then substantially owned by the Raby Estate whose tenants are required to keep their farmsteads whitewashed and these attractive buildings prominent among the rough upland browns and more fertile greens of the intakes and valleys have become a symbol of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and that's a designation not to be argued with.

As for the camping it lived up to the promise of its position, I got the mandatory brew going and watched over the stilled water as grades of grey evening edged the receding blue into the darkening night sky, and the Curlews sang, some Swans flying to roost honked their contact litany, a Snipe drummed while Oyster Catchers piped out the fading day and unison of all common things combined in splendour. I love my bike.

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Taken on April 27, 2014