This piece of rural landscape doesn’t look as though there can be anything interesting to say about it, does it? Would you believe me if I told you it was one of the most interesting things around here? As a matter of fact it really is one of those things that you look at for ages without even noticing – then suddenly, while you are thinking about something quite different, there’s a sort of ‘click’ in your head and the part of your mind that has been turning over thoughts that you wouldn’t think are related, is, without you having to do anything to prompt it, semi-transparently overlaid with another thought or perhaps, as in this case an image. Immediately after, it is all perfectly obvious and you wonder how you missed it.
If The Dog and I take the route round to the level crossing, over the other side of the lines, we can look over the fence, where the beck gallops down a steep ladder of assorted small boulders and large stones then hurries off through a pipe under the road. On the other side of the road we look down on where the beck runs through a broadening of its small valley where, now, are several houses, redeveloped from what used to be a mill and its supporting buildings. The mill itself is long gone to the great waterwheel in the sky.
We stopped and looked at the beck, just as we always do. Then we started thinking about watermills and about micro hydro power and then as we stared inwardly at the possible head of water available in our beck and wondering how it was enough to turn a mill wheel. The piece of our mind that was on duty, listening for traffic, looking for something to photograph, etc. noticed this apparently orphaned line of trees wandering round the hill.
Click. Ding. Sproing. Clang. The penny dropped, this is the mill leat or head race. This line is probably the old hedge that marked the channel that brought the water to our mill. Who’d of thought.