Tuesday 12 December 2023

By The Big Water

Real life and English weather can sometimes conspire to reduce the amount of time I spend out and about, but occasionally you have to "make a break" from confinement. So my brother Les and I headed for Grafham Water, a man-made reservoir which is about 40 minutes' drive from mine.

The door of the Park Ranger's vehicle gave a clue as to what the countryside is like after a wet and gloomy month. But we were going to head along the concrete dam which gives easy walking and good views across the water.

The skies soon clouded over, but down to the south-east it was clear, allowing the low-angled winter sunshine to reach in beneath the grey blanket and bring a warm glow to the December scenery.

I paused to take a photo of the pier leading out to the Valve Tower, mainly because I always intend to but also because today the lighting on the distant shore gave a nice symmetry to the scene. As Les pointed out, in all the many times we've passed this way we've never seen anyone doing any work here; maybe it's all operated remotely nowadays.

The usual winter birds were all present: Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Goldeneye, a few Shovelers and Wigeon and a single Pochard; Great Crested and Little Grebes, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Coots and Mute Swans; some Canada Geese and, though we didn't see any, I'm sure some Greylag Geese were there somewhere. The only wader we saw was a Common Sandpiper.

We followed the path along the southern shore for a while.

Eventually we arrived at our favourite, slightly rickety, bench where we had our customary banana and hot chocolate while scanning for birds. Then we had to retrace our footsteps back to the car park.

Back at "the quiet corner", which is often a place to see many ducks, there was a working party clearing some of the reeds. Very necessary, but also rather noisy, work.

Like London buses, I don't take any pictures of the Valve Tower for years, then two come along, one after the other! The dam that we have to walk stretches right along, from right to left at the back of the photo. See that farmhouse just to the left of the tower......?

Nearly back to the visitor centre now, where there was a tempting sign.....

In mid-December? No, of course we didn't!


3 Lads Singing

The singing group, The Young 'Uns, got their name when as teenagers they found they could get served (under age) in one of their local pubs, which turned out to be home to a folk music club. They were made welcome and, liking the atmosphere, they became regular visitors, eventually daring to stand up and sing themselves. Although they can sing an old song with conviction they began to write their own songs which, in traditional style, were based on real events, often stories which they'd seen on the news or read in the papers.

3 Dads Walking

Andy, Tim and Mike got to know each other when each was hit by the tragic suicides of their daughters. They decided to go on a long walk across the country to raise awareness of the issues, campaign for suicide-prevention education in schools, to talk to each other about their grief and encourage other men similarly affected to seek out help.

Here's what happened when all six men met up....

You can find out more about 3 Dads Walking here: 3 Dads Walking

If you enjoyed the singing and songwriting of the Young 'Uns you can find numerous clips of them on YouTube.

Take care.


  1. So calm and quiet. Pure serenity

  2. As you say we all need a break from confinement when circumstances conspire to keep us indoors and your chosen destination was a great choice to get out and breathe the air. And you finally took that picture you’ve been meaning to for so long.

  3. Another little jewel of England, John. And that song! Brought me to tears, that did.

  4. Our car has resembled the Park Ranger's vehicle for at least the last 3 or 4 months - when will it stop raining. You found some idyllic sky moments here John complimented by the last colour remaining on the trees - well done.

  5. The photos are dramatic, John. I like how the light makes the trees shine golden here and there.

  6. That was a nice area to explore and not too far away from home.

  7. I was brought to tears by that video! So were the three men as I could see tears being wiped away. Thanks for sharing. Lovely photos too!

  8. Looks like you had good weather for your walk.

  9. Oh I really enjoyed the story and pictures. The song was heart-wrenching, but so wonderfully sung. Blessings to all.

  10. Lovely song, which speaks to the hearts of the men who're walking!

  11. Wonderful story and photos.

  12. I loved the walk and the photos - but My Dad's Walking On will stay with me. Many, many thanks, despite my aching heart for all those who know their pain.

  13. Love the light in the photos! As if the photos each have a highlight.

  14. What an absolutely lovely walk, especially after feeling confined. I'd read about the 3 Dads Walking some time ago, their stories, and their commitment to suicide prevention among young people. The song was powerful, heartbreaking and hauntingly beautiful. Thank you for the link, and for the introduction to The Young'uns.
    Wishing you and yours a warm, safe, and peaceful Christmas.

  15. That's a respectable tally of birds. There seem to be more wet days than dry at the moment. Planning to go for a walk is a lottery!

  16. Un lugar ideal para pasear y contemplar la belleza del lugar.
    Un abrazo.

  17. The pain on those faces, all of them. You had me blubbing like a baby.

    It was a rare light on the day that two guys went walking by the big water. Lovely.

    It just is so reassuring to me that in all the angry banging and shouting going on in the world, there are days of rare light and people doing things for no other reason than love.

  18. Beautiful light in your shots today John and a very poignant ending to your post.

  19. You captured some wonderful light John. The men sing beautifully, but what a dreadful tragedy brought them together.

  20. What a shame the weather has been so unkind, but I do love the light on this outing. Thank you for introducing me to the Young Uns. How strong are the 3 Dad's walking, trying to reduce the suicide rate? Much googling and reading has now been done about both groups.

  21. I like the light in your shots. Wonderful day!


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