At the outset I'll explain this reservoir cannot be fished but I know Dad would have enjoyed the pleasantly surprising qualities of this place, the main one being that it is a SSSI and is only a 'stones throw' (roughly 5 miles) from Leeds City centre. A SSSI or Site of Special Scientific Interest is a legal land designation and a site can fall into one of two categories; Geological, which takes into account any unusual landforms, rock features or types and Biological, this is to do with the flora and fauna present on the site. Eccup falls into the Biological type as it has a burgeoning population of Red Kites.
Birdwatching becomes a secondary activity whilst fishing and Dad would often comment on the birds he'd seen whilst he was out for the day. He was quite taken with birds and their song, he said it added to the sound track of the day.
To start this walk we parked on a suburban Alwoodley street, changed our footwear and set off down a clearly signposted track that ran beside Sandmoor Golf Club, at this point I wasn't too sure how rural this walk would be but carried on with optimism. I was soon rewarded when we looked up and saw our first Red Kite! It was earnestly swooping about on the thermals looking for pray. I knew once I had seen this fabulous sight we could be in for a treat.
I just wish my camera had a telephoto lens but here he is!
At the end of the track was a beautiful stone house, Reservior Lodge. We took a left in front of it and carried on along a very obvious pathway.
The initial part of the walk takes you along a path that snakes the edge of the reservoir. This pathway offers dramatic open water views framed by the woodland edge. To all the world, this man-made environment looks very naturalistic and I can easily see why the Red Kites enjoy this as their home.
The pathway is bordered on the other side by a lovely broadleaved woodland which continues the 'naturalistic' feel of this environment.
As you venture round the path you come across a little beach with a wonderful, dare I say perfect little Fishing platform.
The idea of this being a natural lake environment is soon dismissed as the path brings you to a track along the dam wall and sluice workings.
On the opposite side of the track from the dam wall a binocular toting twitcher told me this fantastic view is of the Red Kite's favourite hunting ground.
The track brings you to a footpath that leads you beside a couple of large properties, collectively called 'Owlet Hall'. I wonder if this name has anything to do with the Owl being the symbol of Leeds?!
This path brings you out on the road to the village of Eccup. As you walk along you pass open arable and stock fields. To your left you can clearly see the Reservoir over the fields.
We passed a farm, on our right, as we made our way into Eccup. As we carried on we found a number of interesting features in such a tiny place.
A Secret Garden gate?
Our second sight of a Red Kite. Again frustrated by my lack of good photography kit... Maybe I should hunt for Dad's camera too!
A derelict barn. I'm surprised it hasn't been bought up and developed into a swanky pad.
A couple of yards on we made our way over a style and we squelched over a muddy field, a short section of the larger 'Dales Way' walk. The Reservoir, to our left, was kept in our sights through the trees the whole way.
The idea of keeping My Dad's Boots clean when we got to the style at the end of the muddy field was well out of the window. Gaiters I think next time!
The home straight was in sight as we walked beside the coniferous wood known as Goodrick Plantation.
The final access point brought us back to the front of 'Reservoir Lodge'.
What a wonderful and surprisingly rural Sunday stroll bearing in mind its proximity to the Alwoodley suburbs. You can of course do this walk in reverse as it is a simple but enjoyable circular. The route is approx 4.5/5 miles long and took us a lesuirely 1.5hrs as I kept stopping to take photos. I think I'll do this one again in the summer as it is very accessible from where I live and isn't too strenuous; in the words of one of Dad's favourite funny men Lee Evans I was just "warming up my shoes". A great 1st MDB outing.
On a final note, I read that Eccup Reservior's 79hectares of open water make it the largest in West Yorkshire... Who knew!
Where to next... MDB