The Story of a Quantock Stream

  • A map of the Quantocks
    You hardly notice me when I seep secretly out of the ground high up in Aisholt common. In fact part of me isn't even on this map! I've got them to put on red arrows to help!

  • Boggy ground
    Because of me the ground is always boggy and special plants grow here, such as Marsh St John's-wort

  • A woodern fence
    The rangers have built this fence just for me. It stops the cattle chopping up the squelchy ground with their hooves and trampling the plants.

  • A stream surrounded by trees
    Soon I start to look more like a stream. Deer and cows come and drink from me in the shelter of the trees.

Many years ago a drover lived here. His cottage was all by itself. His job was to take animals from the Quantock Hills to market in Bridgwater. This was a good place to stop with the animals, because of me! Plenty to drink! The drover built a field right on its own up here on the hills to keep the animals together. Now the cottage and the field are ruined and overgrown.

  • Three girls studying the stream
    Now things get moving as I trickle and flow down the hillside. These children are tracking me up the hill. The girl with the wellies is standing in me!

  • Flat boggy ground
    At the bottom of the combe things slow down a bit and I spread out and take it easy. This is where I meet up with the stream that’s come down from Middle Hill and we continue our journey together.

And it starts to get fun. All the way down this bit I get in the way of the track coming up from Aisholt, and we keep crossing over each other!

  • The stream is flooding the track
    It’s like this all the way down to Durborough Farm. Sometimes I win, sometimes the track wins!

  • A pipe tries to divert the water
    Here they tried to make me go under the track through a big pipe, but it didn’t really work.

  • Water appearing from a drain pipe
    I’m growing all the time because water from the fields on either side drains into me as well.

Sometimes I spread out wide and shallow, and people and bikes can splash through me.

  • The stream and track meet as a ford
    By the time I reach this ford I’m quite big.

  • The track has grown too, and is a proper lane from now on so we have to keep out of each other’s way.
    The track has grown too, and is a proper lane from now on so we have to keep out of each other’s way.

Next I slow down to a stop, because the farmer has blocked my course with a dam.

  • A large pool of water
    I grow into a deep, still pond, and have a rest.

I can take time to get to know the ducks and fish that swim in me, and the insects that live around me. Sometimes the farm children tickle me with their feet or stir me up with the oars of their boats.

They open the sluice gates to let me out, and I come out in a great strong rush.

  • Water escaping from the sluice gate
    I love this, it makes me so powerful! They used to have a watermill here, and I turned the wheel to drive the machinery that ground the corn! That’s how strong and useful a stream can be if you treat it right!

  • Overgrown rubble
    This pile of stones is all that’s left of the old Mill Cottage.

Once I’m out of the pond I’m back to being a stream again.

  • Stream moving through boggy ground
    The ground is flat so I wind around, divide and spread all over the place and make another beautiful boggy patch where Mayfly nymphs live and opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage grows and the cows come down to drink.

  • Stream moving through boggy ground
    A bit further on, we’re joined by another stream from above Durborough Farm. This stream has been very useful to the farm. The farmer dug a well to reach the water before it even came out of the ground! He built this little house around the well head.

  • People entering the small hut built over the well
    The water is so pure and lovely that they all drink it at the farm. It comes out of a special pipe near the house.

But most of the water carries on down the hill, around the edges of the fields. It doesn’t choose where to go but flows along channels that the farmer made. A long time ago, the farmer dug a big hole into the hill and dammed the stream to make a small pond that was deep at one end and shallow at the other, to make it easy to get into.

  • A pool of water
    It was a swimming pool for sheep! Really it was to give the sheep’s fleeces a good wash, but I don’t think the sheep were very keen on the idea!

After this new stream has joined us, we flow on together, across the fields, between the banks that we’ve gradually cut into the ground: This has taken ages, but streams are very patient. We’re so big by now that they had to build a proper bridge over us in Aisholt! We’ve even got a proper name, Peart Water. Through two or three fields to Coleshill where we slow down again.

  • The calm stream surrounded by plantlife
    It’s lovely here; we laze around and settle after being so busy. We rest under the trees and watch the damselflies and dragonflies overhead.

Toads come here at mating time. You might notice these small holes in the some of the field walls…

  • A pipe through a wall allows toads safe passage
    You won’t believe this, but these are toad-tunnels so that they can still get to the water.

  • A concrete tunnel restricts the flow of the stream
    This is what has slowed us down. We funnel into this big concrete tunnel, under the road, dark and cold and then…

  • A reservoir
    ..we come out again into a huge reservoir!

  • The reservoir dam
    It’s the same idea as the mill pond or the sheep dip, but on a massive scale! The dam is made of concrete and it’s absolutely enormous!

There’s a line of nets to stop any fish or plants getting mixed up with the machinery of the dam. The red floats warn boats not to come too close.

  • The reservoir

"What is Red?"

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Some of our water goes into these tanks where baby fish live. When they are big enough they are allowed into the reservoir where they swim around in our depths.

  • Water tanks

"How Many Fish Tanks?"

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  • Water tanks
    Some of our water goes into these tanks where baby fish live. When they are big enough they are allowed into the reservoir where they swim around in our depths.

  • Two men fishing.
    Lots of birds and humans come to Hawkridge to catch fish.

  • Hawkridge Reservoir sign
    Between us we Quantock streams have brought enough water from the Hills to fill up a whole reservoir.

Most of our water will travel through a network of pipes to the homes in the surrounding towns and villages. Just think, water from a tiny spring on the Quantock hills might even end up filling your bath!

  • A bath filling with water

"People are so Puzzling!"

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But that is another story.

More watery facts!