Eight members met at the church gates for our intended walk from Great Hucklow and decided that as thunder storms had been
forecast for that area we ought to change our destination to somewhere more local, so Linacre Woods was chosen.
As Great Hucklow is approximately 13 miles from Whaley Bridge we had been made aware of the weather forecast because only days before, the Toddbrook Reservoir had been found to have a partially collapsed wall, and efforts were being made to drain it in order to repair the damage. This event was given major media coverage as the village was in danger of being swept away had the wall burst.
The dam, constructed in the 1830’s is 24 metres high (79ft) and built from earth with a puddle clay core. The concrete panels on its spillway were dislodged after heavy rain, putting the dam at risk of collapse and prompting the evacuation of much of the village. According to Wikipedia, the dam has experienced various problems since 1880, when water was found to be leaking into coal mines. Builders were forced to purchase the block of coal below to ensure mining did not cause structural issues. Since then, leaks and subsidence have necessitated significant repairs in subsequent years. It was fully drained in 2010 with fish stocks being moved to other locations before repairing pitching to the wall of the dam, cleaning silt, repairing and cleaning. Toddbrook Reservoir is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) providing habitats for herons, ducks and other animals and fish, while rare mosses and liverworts grow on its shores, particularly short-lived species that grow on seasonally exposed mud.
As I write this, a small number of residents have been allowed to return to their homes and hopefully when you read this article, the potential disaster will have been averted thanks to the tireless efforts of the many organisations involved in its repair.
We had a steady stroll around the middle and the top reservoir at Linacre Woods, the latter having a boardwalk around it, covered with chicken wire to prevent slips. This part is also a conservation area. We paused to inspect the walls for any signs of leakage as we realised that damage to this dam would affect some of us personally. For the last half an hour of our walk we were accompanied by the sounds of thunder in the distance, gradually moving nearer and nearer to us, before the rain came, as we sought shelter in our cars.
These three reservoirs were built between 1855 and 1904 and between them hold more than 240 million gallons of water. Historically they supplied water to Chesterfield but they became non-operational in 1995 and are now managed for visitors and for wildlife.
Our next 5 mile walk will be in Dronfield, led by Eric and Helen on Sunday 1st September. Any new members will be made most welcome. We meet at the church gates at 12pm with a packed lunch and suitable walking gear. Do come.