Nestled in the Staffordshire Moorlands is a 2.5 mile long lake of fluffy cloud reflections and jetties of colourful boats moored in bobbing lines. This was the 'Blackpool of the Potteries' where the North Staffs train chugged in bringing 19th century day-trippers aplenty in their promenading best.
The Aquatic Fete was the Bank Holiday attraction, watched by spectators all bodiced and bustled or Dundeary whiskered and frock coated. Marching bands trumpeted by lakeside views and a tight rope walker triumphed across the ripples. He is still remembered in a carved 150 year old beech tree.
Built as a reservoir for the Caldon canal system the lake is surrounded by wooded hillside and dotted with wondrous boat houses built by wealthy Victorian worthies. Through lake margins of reeds and the ivy that clambers oak and the silvers of the birches, a whisper of a cold breeze murmurs a little giggle of those fish jugglers and mermaids that wooed the crowds.
A bridge of love locks leads to a bench where I catch a new romance sat talking and parallels a love that started here in 1863 between the parents of a man all Jungle Book'd and Just So'd. Will they call their child Rudyard too?
Five miles of magic paths, speared green with spring bulbs through dark winter earth, booming with the squeaky wheelbarrow woodland of the Great Tit and oars slicing through skyscape water. Funambulism, fancy frocks and fish in the imagination for a little while.