Bridging the gap in Yorkshire between the past and present

We may be seeing the first auguries that autumn is on its way, but the clement weekend weather showed that the last vestiges of summer warmth haven't entirely disappeared.

A walker at Baitings Reservoir. PIC: Simon Hulme

The summer just gone was the joint hottest on record in the UK - a title shared with the fabled summer of 1976 along with 2003 and 2006, and was the hottest in England since records began more than a century ago.

Signs of our sun-drenched summer can still be seen today as this photograph shows. Notice the solitary figure walking across the old Road Bridge at Baitings Reservoir, near Ripponden, which is clearly visible after declining water levels.

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Such sights have not been uncommon this summer with reservoirs an obvious barometer of the impact a prolonged dry spell is having.

Baitings Reservoir is a large water supply reservoir operated by Yorkshire Water close to Ripponden in the West Yorkshire Pennines. It lies in the valley of the River Ryburn and is the higher of two reservoirs built to supply Wakefield with water and was completed back in 1956.

The reservoir is surrounded by woodland and popular with walkers and at various points offers impressive views of the neighbouring moors and down the valley towards Ryburn Reservoir.

If you venture over to this neck of the woods the village of Ripponden is worthy of a little sojourn and has, like so many places in the Pennines, an interesting story to tell.

The area is of archaeological note due to its rich neolithic and bronze age remains, while the village developed where the packhorse routes of Elland and Halifax met and then crossed into Lancashire.

Ripponden is the largest of a small group of settlements that includes Barkisland, Rishworth and Soyland.

Originally in the village there was a ford across the river, followed later by a timber bridge, a stone one and then the mid-eighteenth century bridge present today.

The past, it seems, is never really very far away.

Technical details: Nikon D3s camera, 12-24mm lens, exposure 200th sec at F5.6, iso 200).

Picture: Simon Hulme

Words: Chris Bond