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Jill Thorp scans for sightings of farm submerged beneath the reservoir

Read Jill Thorp's column about life on the farm in the middle of the M62 every weekend in The Yorkshire Post.
Read Jill Thorp's column about life on the farm in the middle of the M62 every weekend in The Yorkshire Post.
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The hundreds of reservoirs that nestle amongst our glorious landscape 
have certainly taken a hit this summer.

The ones around our farm are at an all-time low, no doubt giving the various water companies cause for concern during our long hot summer. People have taken to social media to display their photos, in particular of Batings, a reservoir not far from us.

It has been completely devoid of water for some time and the original road and lovely old bridge that once crossed the river there has been exposed for all to see. Apparently the last time this bridge was seen was 1976.

Many villages were lost when valleys were flooded to create the giant man-made lakes we see today, but despite the lowness of the water I’ve yet to see any rooftops peeping out from the murky depths.

Paul’s family on his father’s side originate from the village of Ashopton, a community made up of many homes and farmsteads dating back to the 1700s. His great-grandad was born at Cockbridge Farm which was lost just after the end of the Second World War when the Ladybower reservoir was created. We drove over that way a couple of weeks ago and eagerly surveyed the water hoping to spot signs of the old buildings. Sadly we couldn’t see anything, the water level is still too high and, on further investigation, it turned out the last sightings were during the drought of 2003.

Stott Hall Farm overlooks a reservoir, Boothwood, which was built just after the completion of the M62 motorway in 1971. Our land runs down to the water’s edge as do the dry stone walls, which continue their descent to the valley bottom, hidden beneath the peaty water. I’ve certainly never seen the water level this low so took the opportunity to go and take some photos.

A week earlier while driving up the road on the opposite banking we’d seen a huge stone archway just above the waterline. Paul had never seen it before and neither had Ian, our reservoir keeper, so we headed out with camera in hand to investigate

The valley sides are very steep here and it was a hairy slither down the banking to get a look inside the archway which housed a huge cast-iron structure. On the climb back up the hillside I realised that we were walking up a very old cobbled track, the original road up to the farm.

It was sad to see and imagine what it must have been like before the beautiful wooded valley below was flooded.

Thankfully the transition back to school seems to be going well for John-William.

He is eager to get his uniform on and judging by the comments of “she’s fantastic” and “we have so much fun” I’m presuming he is well suited with his new teacher.

This change in attitude has come as a huge relief to me, no more tears and pleading eyes at the school gates.

It’s so good to see him rushing off to find his friends, although it would be nice if I got perhaps just a backward glance! My little boy is growing up.