BB2138 : Eccentric and Nomadic

Wednesday 17th November 2021

I might be wrong and, if so, no doubt someone will correct me, but it is my understanding that the flooding in Kendal resulting from Storm Desmond in 2015 was not entirely due to the Lakeland fells emptying into the River Kent but was considerably exacerbated by the water running down from Benson Knott, the hill on the east side of town, overwhelming the drains.  

Up in that direction is an old reservoir called Birds Park, originally built, according to the British Dam Society, in about 1850 as a reservoir for the town.  I remember that the taste of the water used to be distinctly but not unpleasantly different to that which we now receive (although that might have come from the Fisher Tarn Reservoir).  In 1980 or thereabouts Birds Park was closed due to water quality problems.  It was not demolished because it was thought that it helped protect the town against flooding.  However its embankment was scheduled to be removed in 2016.  Desmond put paid to that.  It is perhaps a good job that the work had not be done.

Recently, Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been building a series of willow "Hydro-hedges" to create a "natural flood defence" which would hold back water during a storm event.  

However United Utilities must have decided that greater action was needed. As a result the reservoir has been drained and a new overflow channel is being installed to help prevent the downstream flood risk.  

We thought we should go and inspect the works.  

To make a decent outing, we decided to start from where I live in Natland to walk along the old canal bank into town.  

There was a magnificent arch in the sky......

..... on the other side of which stood one of the most remarkable sights I have seen in town for a long time.

A vehicle was parked outside a launderette that was presumably being put to good use by its owner.  DVLA think it is a 15 year old white Iveco.  If they saw it today, they would soon realise that the only white left on the van is the neat hand-painted lettering that relates the philosophy of its owner, presumably the Eccentric and Nomadic Edward A Steele.

If you look closely at the pictures (enlarge them) you will see what I mean.  

If you have time to spare you might actually want to read the messages.  The curve in the pictures is not the eccentricity of the van but the consequence of merging photos.

Having had a good perusal, we moved out of Kendal to start the climb to the reservoir.  

Once we had crawled (well, almost) through the tunnel under the railway and climbed up through the wood, we emerged at the reservoir.

Yes, it had been drained and yes, significant work was taking place.

United Utilities had some big machinery in action and large concrete structures were being erected.

Mission achieved, we headed along Paddy Lane and aside the Helm whence the Kent estuary could be seen.

We found ourselves outside and then inside the Punchbowl.  It is the first time I have been in since the Two Tribes Went To War in January last year.  It is under new management but the only thing that seemed to have changed were the faces behind the bar.

As we returned back to base, the sun was creating dramatic lighting effects under the clouds.

Unfortunately I can't tell you any more about the eccentric and nomadic Mr Steele. He doesn't yet seem to be known to Uncle Google.  Maybe he will be now.

Don, 17th November 2021

 Comitibus:  Mike, Don, Terry, Tony, Martin

Bonus Pictures from Tony


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Route:  Map: OS 1:50k



BB2138 : Eccentric and Nomadic


Wednesday 17th November 2021


Eccentric and Nomadic, Birds Park Reservoir


Don, Martin, Mike B, Terry, Tony

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (MM):


GPX track


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