I’ve been neglecting my duties on Fifty Seven these last few weeks. A combination of things meant I didn’t have any time to write. However, you’ll be sad to know I’m back!! 🙂
Having lived in this house for 14 years, you’d have thought I’d know the area around the house very well by now. Actually, that’s not true. When I go jogging I tend to stick to the same routes, my head facing the ground trying to put one lung bursting foot in front of the other. Occasionally, I will stop to look around, but, you get blasé after a while, ignoring the world around you, with all the things it has to offer.
One thing I’d noticed several times on Google Maps, was a small body of water, barely a couple of miles away from the house. It appeared to have 3 or 4 small jetty’s around it. I’d inquired with a neighbour one time as to whether it was still there, and what was it used for. He told me the landowners used to stock it with fish and there used to be a family of swans in it.
I decided to carry out a recce. We have the right to roam in Scotland but I wanted to check it was ok to do so. Having checked the route again, I set off on a cloudy Scottish day. After a mile or so I knew I had to head off the track and into a small wood to the left. Apart from a few pheasant shooting pens, and evidence of what looked like perhaps a badger set, it was just a normal little wood.
It was surrounded by stone dyke with barbed wire on top, either to keep the sheep in or people like me out. However, I eventually found one of those wooden climbing gate thingy’s. The field beyond though was full of sheep and their lambs. They were spread right across the field I wanted to cross and were already bleating at the sight of the strange man with the camera and rucksack.
I decided not to disturb them. I knew where to go but I’d choose another opportunity to hunt for my mystery pond.
A few days later I set off again. It was a hot day (by Scottish standards 🙂 ), so, I packed water and some sandwiches in case I needed a break en route. Within an hour I was back at the v shaped fence thingy. This time the sheep had either been moved, or were hiding really cleverly.
It was much hotter than I thought, so I stopped for a drink and a sandwich. I sat in the shade and immediately noticed how quiet it was. Not even a bird tweeting. I looked round. What if the holes in the ground were not a badger set after all. What if a madman with a cleaver had been hiding for days , waiting on an unarmed middle aged scotsman to come along and sit in just the right position on this sunny day…….. I decided I read too much crime fiction, made a vow to read more comedy and reached for another sandwich.
After 10 minutes, I decided to continue my Hobbit journey, venturing across the field watching out for Orcs and Trolls…..
After a bit more climbing fences and walking o’er field and dale, I found a small area of water. It looked like it had been larger at some point and had dried up. Either that or the increasingly raging midday sun was now causing me to see a mirage.
I soldiered on, hoping a dragon wouldn’t appear, as it was scorchingly hot already. After another bit of upping and downing a dale or two, I suddenly spotted some trees. I wandered down towards them. There was definitely water hidden behind them. As I got closer, I spotted a jetty. This was it. The Magic Kingdom of Pond. There was a gate. I approached it. No magic keyhole by moonlight here. It opened without hardly any protestations. Unfortunately there didn’t appear to be an obvious path. This place hadn’t been used for a long time and was well overgrown.
Suddenly a heron flew across the pond to the other side, leaving me cursing for not having my camera ready. By the time I was looking down the lens to had disappeared into the undergrowth on the opposite side of the pond. I opened the gate…..
It didn’t look as if there had been anyone here for a long time. I tried to wade through the long grass and nettles but I really couldn’t see where I was putting my feet. For all I knew there was a large hole which I’d disappear down and end up having a mind blowing quiz with Gollum.
I stopped, partly because I really couldn’t see my footing, secondly I’d seen some ducks on the pond, and, thirdly, I thought I could hear voices. I checked I didn’t have the Ring of Sauron in my pocket, and turned to my left. On top of the small hill I’d just traversed, were four men on ATV’s. How they’d managed to get so close without me hearing them was a mystery, but, there they were, looking across towards the pond maybe a hundred metres away. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but still found myself stepping backwards to put a tree between us. I snapped a picture of the ducks and decided to see if I could get closer to the pond round the right hand side.
I followed a stone dyke, which ended at a another dyke, where a damaged barbed wire fence allowed access to the next field. Unfortunately the route to the left looked like rough overgrown terrain, so, with rucksack on my back, and my Nikon D710 around my neck, holding it in my right hand, I clambered over the barbed wire.
I suddenly stopped moving. I was now being held back by a secret force. Maybe the ATV drivers were actually necromancers, who were going to drag me backwards at high speed towards a grim ending. I feared the worst. I tried to turn. My rucksack was preventing me moving properly. I started to wonder whether necromancers liked ham and tomato sandwiches. I bloody well hoped so.
I was now absolutely roasting in the midday sun. Stuck in the grip of necromancers on ATV’s, who would probably discard my sandwiches, and feed me to some Orc’s wolves or something, I could feel a rivulet of sweat crawl down my back. Trying to go forward once again, I realised I was caught on the barbed wire fence. I stretched downward and tried to free myself. Five minutes later and a pound of sweat lighter, I managed to break out.
I could now see another pond in the distance with some sort of small building. It was so small, even I couldn’t continue the Tolkien theme to stretch it to being Sauron’s Barad-dûr 😂😂😂
The hut looked like it might be for entertaining, as it had a wooden table, barbecue and a woodburner. It was more of a Hobbit home than Saurons lair. I moved on.
Despite the heat I decided to point myself in the direction of home and work my way across the fields. I’d never been this way before but it cold only be a couple of miles across a couple of fields, then straight into a cold shower after a very cold drink of iced water.
I spotted some small birds on a fence. They were too small to be spy de spy evil Ravens. They turned out to be swallows basking in the sunshine. I was quite surprised how close they let me get. I love housemartins and swallows especially the distances they travel to Africa and back to our house every year. This year, probably due to the good weather, they’d produced at least 2 if not 3 broods resulting in gatherings of over 30 birds some evenings.
I left the little ones and set off across the fields. I thought it would be easy but the cattle had chewed up the soil during the winter making it difficult to walk on AND it was uphill for a lot of the way. The fields were full of insects and wildflowers. It was lovely. Had I not been soaked through with sweat and running out of water, I’d have been smiling.
After stopping several times due to the heat I eventually saw something I’d never seen before. View of our house from the opposite hill. It looked like a little hobbit house cuddled in amongst the trees. Apart from the day I was towed through 3 feet of snow by a large tractor, I’d never been so pleased to see it. 🙂
I finally made it back, having achieved my goal of at least finding the secret pond. Even though it had obviously been left to it’s own devices by humans, it had evolved into a home for all sorts of birds and insects. A lovely little oasis in the woods. As I downed a litre of iced water, I headed off for my cold shower still pleased with the day, which had reminded me to get a bit fitter before embarking on such a journey. Bilbo and Frodo would have laughed at me 🙂
The Secret Pond was brought to you by David Linden aka @qosfc1919 ©️Dodo Productions 2021