87) Baitings Reservoir and dam, Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX64LR
 
Many thanks to Bernie Evans and a couple of other people for making me aware of this as an accessible route.

About Baitings Reservoir and dam.
Wakefield Corporation Waterworks started impounding the valley of the River Ryburn in the 1930s, with Ryburn Reservoir being completed in 1933 Construction on Baitings took place 20 years later with completion in 1956. The reservoir takes the name of the hamlet that was flooded under the new dam. The hamlet of Baitings, whose name derives from the Old Norse of Beit (pasture) and Eng (meadow),[3] was on an old road linking Yorkshire and Lancashire.During spells of very hot weather and drought conditions, the old packhorse bridge is revealed.
The dam head is a curved structure that is 1,540 feet (470 m) long and over 160 feet (50 m) high.[7] The reservoir covers 59 acres (24 hectares) and has a catchment of 1,830 acres (742 hectares), and when it is full, it holds over 113,000,000 cubic feet (3,190,000 m3) of water. The dam took eight years to complete at a cost of £1.4 million, and is located at 840 feet (256 m) above sea level.A tunnel connects reservoirs in valleys to the north with Baitings to allow for the transfer of water. Manshead Tunnel is 8,000 feet (2,400 m) long and was opened in 1962.
In 1989, the body of a man was found at the bottom of the reservoir during a period of dry weather, when the water was 40 feet (12 m) shallower than normal. He had been murdered and his body was weighted down with a pick axe. The crime was featured on Crimewatch and remains unsolved.

Tragedy during construction, on the wall of the carpark is a plaque - on which are the names of three workmen who tragically lost their lives during the construction of the reservoir, such accidents are (usually) due to human error and perhaps there is a clue to the tragedy in the job titles mentioned on the plaque, one man being an engineer, one being a bandsman (signaller), and the third poor soul being a driller and shot firer? It struck me that H&S perhaps was not also what it is today? I have often read such memorial plaques on much older civil engineering projects and drew the conclusion that labour was cheap and it was almost expected that big projects would sadly have a number of lost lives, but this was in the 1950's so perhaps my thoughts were short of the mark?

Route:
The route is approx 1.6 miles circular, starting from the level tarmac carpark, we did a clockwise circuit of the route. It is easy to navigate on the well established mostly hardened paths.

Terrain:
starting on tarmac then to concrete (dam wall path) then to wide very well compacted but not loose path. There is a small section at the top of the reservoir that involves a couple of kerbs and a short section on the road. Please be careful as cars can travel fairly quickly on this small road. There are a few little slopes that might mean you need a little assistance if in a manual wheelchair, no issue for powered mobility equipment users.

What might you. see?
Wildlife, geese, ducks, other moorland birds, most common birds, deer. Lots of wildflowers on the route so the site will be good for various insects.
On our visit the water level was very very low, causing an ancient packhorse bridge to be exposed. You can also see other stone remains from the village that was lost when the valley was flooded.
Deb (my wife) who is able bodied found a little path that loops back under the road bridge at the inlet end of the reservoir- this allowed her to access the uncovered ancient packhorse bridge and walk a piece of history. How cool is that?...

 

 
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