Cow Green Reservoir

27 Jan

Cow Green ReservoirCow Green Reservoir – I remember you well. Part concrete – part earth fill dam 2000ft up in the Northern Pennines. The coldest place I had worked up to that point in my life. It was before I discovered thermal underwear and gloves were for cissies – weren’t they?

I’m talking 1967 when I arrived to build the big concrete batching plant that was to produce all of the concrete for the dam to be built in the high reaches of the River Tees to provide water for the booming industries downriver around Middlesboro.

The batching plant, workshops and site offices were on the flat ground to the right of the road in the picture – only a few sheep graze there now —


Construction of the dam had been delayed for years by the environmentalists because of the rare flora and fauna growing in the valley that was due to be flooded. Most publicity was granted at the time to the Himalayan Orchid but I can find no mention of it now unless it has changed it’s name to the Teesdale Violet.

The Himalayan Orchid —

Himalayan Orchid

Well worth saving – and we did. They were moved to safer ground before the valley was flooded —


A part concrete and part earth fill dam isn’t the easiest thing to make watertight. I can remember the contractors were drilling and pumping grout (liquid concrete) into cracks in the rock floor downstream from the dam in an attempt to seal the leaks while the water backed up the valley beside me as I removed the batching plant on completion of the job —

Cow Green

Quite tidy even if I say so mesel – and the river downstream may look peaceful at the Cauldron’s Snout —


Until they open the floodgates at the dam – then it’s time to watch out if you are walking in the area —


But you will be OK so long as they don’t pull the plug when you are paddling by the dam —

Swimming in Cow Green

Or fishing downstream for that matter —


A lovely part of the country and with all this talk of ‘global warming’ it’s hard to imagine we had 18ft snow drifts closing the access road between Alston and Middleton on Teesdale in April/May time back then.

Cow Green Reservoir

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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in out and about


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