Drowned villages and more ice cream…

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“I know it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t feel right.”
“Doesn’t look right, does it?”
“Unnatural”
“As if the land rejects it somehow.”
We were looking out over the Ladybower Reservoir, ice-creams in hand. Yes, again. We needed some shots of two ice creams and as my companion had forgotten and chosen something different, we will be obliged to have even more… such hardships we must suffer in the name of art….

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We hadn’t rushed. A late night talking over wine had resulted in a leisurely morning, but the sun was tempting and we really did need to get those shots of the Silver Bullet for The Black Shade of Beeley. I knew just the place, with a spectacular backdrop. We would go to the Derwent Valley road that runs alongside the reservoirs where the Dambusters had practiced for their famous raid with Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bomb. Somehow, it seemed appropriate. Once the pictures were taken, it seemed only reasonable to wander over for the ice cream… just to get the pictures, mind you, and see if the vendor could stand in for our disappearing van. Sadly no… far too modern… we needed something a little closer to the old woman’s dilapidated vehicle. We could only wait and see what we might be given.

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We retired to the Ladybower pub, conveniently situated just round the corner. I am aware that it looks as if we spend all our time eating ice cream and drinking beer in pubs with low ceilings and beams. This is patently untrue. I drink cider as a rule. We hadn’t been here for over a year, and I couldn’t recall them selling Stowford’s on our last visit…. But I wasn’t about to complain. On the walls of the pub were pictures of the drowned villages of Ashopton and Derwent that now lie beneath the ripples of the reservoirs. Necessity can be harsh, and the land adapts, but there is an uneasy falseness to the landscape, an imposition… It is not a natural lake and it shows, in spite of the created beauty.

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It is as if some inner sense of the rightness of things is aware that the angles and gradients of the hills are wrong for this to be an outpouring of nature. The concrete bridge offends the senses somehow, graceful though it is with its undulating arches, stark against the green of the hills. It gets us every time.
“We could blow it up.” I had spoken aloud.
“You’ll get us arrested.” It was a reasonable conclusion. I’m surprised we haven’t been already. Writers discussing plots in public places are definitely at risk in this respect. Mind you, this time I wasn’t thinking of the book.
He raised his eyebrow. I raised my glass. It was time to go… and we had found something amazing on the way out here… something we were going to explore on the way back…

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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23 Responses to Drowned villages and more ice cream…

  1. davidprosser says:

    I’ve been psst there a few times in my life and always felt sorry for the inhabitants of the villages lying below the water. The struggle of finding somewhere to relocate to and the hassle of moving. You’re right to say there’s a certain feeling of the reservoir area still feeling somewhat artificial.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      It has been beautifully done, but it doesn’t seem to sit right yet. I imagine there was a god deal of help for the villagers, and they may even have had more modern homes… but the community and the roots can’t be moved, can they? xxxx

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  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    Ah, Ladybower. My very first school trip about 50 years ago! We got to see the engineering room and how it all worked. Thanks for the memories Sue.

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  3. I’m very fond of drowned villages. They make the imagination bloom. Have you ever been to Dunwich in Suffolk?

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  4. Ali Isaac says:

    Can’t wait to hear about what you found…

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  5. I grew up with artificial lakes, but as far as I know there were no drowned villages. That’s a bit creepy and sad. There were drownings in the big artificial reservoir because of the drop-offs. There were warnings posted about “No Swimming” so no lifeguards. People went there to fish and shouldn’t have tried swimming.

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  6. Ladybower! An old favourite! Thanks Suie

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  7. Lois says:

    I went there as a child a long time ago when it was a very hot summer and the reservoir had dried up. We walked to the remains of the village – my most vivid memory is of a man losing his shoe in the mud!

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    • Was that Summer of 76? Would like to hear more about that trip. Walking to the remains of the village sounds spooky…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lois says:

        No, this would have been in the 50’s…. long long ago! I can’t remember too much about it except it was a very hot day, and everything was very muddy. The remains of the cottages were grey, no doubt covered in dry mud and silt. There were stepping stones across to the village area but it was really just ruins. Reginald Hill has written a story which revolves round a similar incident, of a drowned village being revealed, ‘On Beulah Height’.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I was there a couple of years back when the water was low in one of the upper reservoirs. You could still see the last remnants of walls there too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. noelleg44 says:

    Our lake house is on a man-made lake that filled a number of river valleys when it was created. There are houses down there, but I don’t think any towns were drowned.

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