Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

20th December 2013


View from the bridge
Testing times

When the old bridge across our stream began to rot away we decided to replace it with something better than a few slats of wood. Enter blacksmith, sculptor, designer Alan Dawson of Grand Designs fame. The result is much more than a bridge - it is a work of art. Researches have found that the sound of running water is of immense therapeutic value. I suppose that's why aristocrats of old built in water features and diverted rivers on their estates.

As a child growing up in the industrial east end of Sheffield in the war, my parents cycled out to Chatsworth on a tandem with a little seat on the back for me until I was old enough to ride on my own bike with them. I was dangerously attracted to water and fell into lakes, rivers and even a horse trough by the Baslow road such was my fascination. Our favourite destination was Chatsworth which had been requisitioned by the government during the war. I was happy to paddle in the slow moving river until the day my father found a gap in the boundary wall above the man made lake which feeds the famous Cascade (yes, I fell into that as well). On each subsequent visit we became bolder and inched our way down towards the formal lawns. We were discovered one day by the head gardener who showed us Paxton's greenhouses and giant waterlily, the copper tree and pivot stone. My father was a keen gardener and they got on well. We were no longer in hiding which was not as exciting.

Many years later I returned as a paying visitor, re-lived my childhood and entered the house for the first time. Jostling with all the other visitors now I remember those days when I played there and we had it all to ourselves.

Our little beck which starts on Skiddaw and finds its way down to Bassenthwaite Lake passes my writing room. The noise is comforting and inspiratonal. It supports masses of wildlife including us. We have no mains water - it comes down by gravity from a spring on the hill side and passes through a zapper to kill off bugs. The water is soft, pure and free of any chemicals. Tea and coffee tastes extra good.

We have been glad to live in a little sheltered valley over the last week listening to the howling winds and doubly glad that we re-roofed the house last spring. While everything was crashing around us, we felt safe. I can think of nothing worse than losing one's home as many have done in recent floods.  I can't imagine how the people of the Phillipines, Syria , the Gaza strip and all the troubled placed in this world must feel to be dispossesed and helpless.

I will enjoy Chrismas here. We may be cut off by weather but we are well prepared and well stocked up. The dense quiet and lack of light pollution is magical - especially if the world turns white overnight. There is nowhere in the world that I would rather be.

* and yes, I have fallen over in the stream - several times!

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