Clatworthy Reservoir

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Clatworthy Reservoir with low water

Clatworthy Reservoir was one of the first places we visited when we moved to the 10 parishes; as a nearby expanse of blue on the map it was irresistible.

In real life it proved to be well worth the short trip: a natural looking lake with a formidable dam and a pathway round the whole expanse of water. The path rose and fell with the headlands, through woodland and along open shore, sometimes turning up a valley to cross a long spur of water back where it began as a stream. In the open parts the path is a wide grass carriageway, mown cutely through the fern and gorse.

We saw a deer there on one visit, 20 yards down the path, climbing steadily through the trees in the hope that we had not spotted her. Another time the water level had dropped and there were hundreds of  American crayfish shells, or parts thereof. I foolishly filled my pockets with them at the kids’ request only to discover just how bad rotten crayfish bits can smell when we got home.

But all that stopped when we got a dog. Because dogs are not allowed at Clatworthy. It’s well over a year since we visited. Until today.

In my quest to walk every footpath in the vicinity I noticed a dashed green line that started at the anglers’ car park and tracked the water’s edge for a while, not as closely as the mown green highway, but only a short distance further out. It turned out to be a beautiful walk, at times with unimpeded views of the reservoir, at others climbing through woodland. Sometimes the path was parallel to the shoreline, other times it angled away to cross a field with cows in or make a square around the contours of the lake.

It would be possible to combine public footpaths with lanes to make a circular walk around the reservoir; it would be much longer than the perimeter path and swing you away from the lake for some of it, but it would be rewarding walking and the dog is allowed on all of it.

Today, it felt like I was at the lake again, a feeling I’ve missed. It’s so peaceful there; just the sound of birdsong and the dog crashing through the undergrowth. Anglers dotted the shore, apart from two in a bleached white boat, who from a distance both looked asleep. The water level was very low, exposing vibrant green and orange rings around the water, and making some of the fingers of the reservoir look more like a river. And I saw my first ever Heath Spotted Orchid, tucked away modestly in a meadow.

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Heath Spotted Orchid