Backwater Dam or Reservoir was built between 1964 and 1968 in Glenisla. It was officially opened by the Queen in 1969.
Its only purpose is to provide water to Angus and Dundee, as well as to Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie.
In order for the dam to be constructed and filled, several farms – and probably other houses - had to be vacated. Interestingly, these were not demolished; only their roofs were removed. I’m told that if the water in the dam is very low, some of these buildings can still be seen.
On Tuesday, September 15 we arrived at the dam in glorious sunshine – one of the nicest days of the year! The water was completely still and the reflections on it were truly beautiful. There was much oo-ing and ah-ing as we set off. Fourteen of us did the complete circuit of the dam, in a clockwise direction, while six walked along to one end and back the same way.
The first part of the walk was so nice and very peaceful. Once we reached the end of the dam, we had to cross a grassy area to a large gate then through a small patch of woodland. Once through the wood, we were in another world: no sign of the dam, just a view over to Glendamff farm and fields, then woods and further afield, hills and mountains – almost like a small glen in miniature! Here we followed a sheep track along the side of a hill, then cut down across a field to reach a bridge over Glendamff burn. There was then a bit of a climb through long grass to reach a rough road.
Here we met up with another group of walkers – the Tuesday Trampers from Montrose. Coincidentally we met them about 10 months ago on our walk at Lunan Bay. We walked part of the way back with them but then split into our own groups. By this time we were walking on hard road, suitable for cars, and we did see one or two.
We had a bit of excitement on this part of our walk. There were some sheep down in a gully, close to the road, and one had got its head and horns stuck through a wooden fence. We stood watching it, willing it to turn its head the right way and become unstuck, but no! Then Doug Ruxton, probably our oldest walker, came to the rescue. He clambered down the steep side and over a burn, to the sheep. Before he could effect a rescue, the sheep became sufficiently agitated that it freed itself and ran away. There was a great round of applause for our hero as he scrambled back up. Well done, Doug.
Soon we were back at the bus, having completed about 6 miles although it felt rather more! Neither group saw anything in the way of wildlife this time but there were still quite a few wild flowers. One point of note was a white kiwi painted on the red roof of a shed at Glenhead farm. Apparently the family from this farm emigrated to New Zealand before the dam was built.
Our next walk will be on Tuesday, September 29 to Glen Tanar, to do the Seven Wells walk. As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.