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The Haunted Mere Off The Beaten Track
I hadn’t really expected to be starting
on another venue, and with no other
tickets I planned to go back to my little mere for a better look around and
maybe put a little bait in and really
see if those carp where still around,
but as the days started to cool and the
days shortened I decided that the following spring would give me a better
chance.
The autumn and early winter was
spent up in Oxford. I had a fantastic
time with plenty of socials with the
locals and some of the guys from the
club lake, which made up for the paltry handful of carp I actually managed
to catch up there. I was still happy
with the season I had had because I
learnt so much about margin fishing.
Being so up close and personal with
those Colne Valley carp, you couldn’t
help but learn from their reactions to
our rigs and bait. I even managed to
up my personal best twice at the club
lake, so of course I was well chuffed. I
had considered going back to the
Colne Valley the next year, but to be
honest I didn’t really have much of an
idea where to fish, and I didn’t have
any tickets forthcoming. As winter
came and went I decided that I would
give my haunted mere a lot more
attention, at least until I had sorted
somewhere to fish, which, of course, I
knew for sure still held carp!
It was around April time that I
stung myself to numbness once more.
Walking through the dense wood and
onto the haunted mere, the first
decent bit of warmth and prolonged
sunshine had given me the urge to
climb that old tree once again. While
soaking up the sunshine and taking in
the magical feeling of the place, I
made myself comfortable on a
branch. Well, as comfortable as I
could with hundreds of little bumps
on my skin caused by the stingers,
which were hurting even more now
thanks to the added sweat and the
irresistible urge to scratch at them! I
hadn’t banked on the nettles being up
so early in spring, so I had foolishly
chosen to wear just a khaki T-shirt
and jungle combat trousers, offering
absolutely no protection from the
stingy leaves, a lesson I would
remember next time for sure.
At least the huge banks of nettles
were undisturbed, which was a good
sign that nobody else had been there,
and once inside I was pretty hidden
from outside view. While I’m sitting
up that tree, enjoying a little smoke
and enjoying the magical feelings you
get from being here, I will take this
opportunity to explain the fishing situation at the haunted mere.
Reed Lined
The mere is owned by a local
farmer. It is surrounded by flat arable
fields on two sides. The other two
sides are at the bottom of a big hill,
which is well known to the local historians for dragon slaying in years
past, Anglo Saxon warriors were
believed to have roamed those fields
and camped around the mere, using
the cover to hide from local enemies.
Well, that’s what we were told at primary school. In fact I even drew a picture once of the dragon being stabbed
to death by a brave slayer when I was
about five. I was so proud of that I
might have to dig it out and display it,
but it just shows the local interest
that people have in those hills. Mark
has done some research and has
explained it in his own story so I will
not spoil it for you; I will just say that
there seems to be some truth to the
ghost of the mere that we were told
as young kids by our parents. I guess
they were probably just trying and
keep us away!
As we got older we got braver and
after school and weekends if we were
not fishing the local river we would
often head up to the hills overlooking
the mere, causing no trouble at all, but
the local farmer still wasn’t impressed
with us being there, so we tried to
avoid him as much as we could. And
with those memories still in my mind
I once again tried to avoid him at all
costs while going about my hunt to
spot a Haunted Mere carp. We did
later find out that this farmer didn’t
exactly have any rights to this land
himself. So in essence if I were to ever
fish the haunted mere it would have
to be as covert as possible.
I had initially been concerned
about where to leave my car. One
idea I had was to park up about a mile
away near to the pub and walk down,
but this would lead me very close to
the farmer’s house, and of course I
was keen to avoid being seen coming
and going. The other idea was to park
up in an old road going leading to the
sewage works on the other side of the
valley, but this was an even longer
walk across several fields, but it
would at least take me in behind the
mere and out of view of any house. As
luck would have it though, I needn’t
have worried. While on my way to
another lake I noticed a little layby
nearby was often being used by the
local dog walkers as a convenient
place to park for the afternoon, and
seeing that this was only a few hundred metres from the mere’s hidden
entrance it was perfect, and it also
gave me a good excuse if ever I was
challenged in open land. With a dog
lead in my hand, I hoped I could simply say my dog had run off. Perfect.
OK, back to the mere. The following
spring I was determined to spend a
lot more time looking for any signs of
carp. I had no real distractions, with
very little work coming my way for
the foreseeable future and with only
one other ticket acquired, my time
was to be split between the two
waters. Besides, the mere had been
untouched for so long I had all the
time in the world to see for myself
what this place held. So what was the
hurry?
I guess I was up that tree for a couple of hours and with my bum now
nearly as numb as my arms and legs,
I decided to try and find a couple
more vantage points. There were several areas I hadn’t really explored
despite several decent looking climbing trees. Walking around the mere
was extremely difficult: much of the
ground was very, very soft after years
and years of leaf fall and other rotting
vegetation, and I was often up to my
knees in wet, stinky compost type
mud. Add in the amount of fallen
branches and tree trunks, nettles and
brambles, and it really was slow
progress.
Despite the mere being fairly small
it still took me well over an hour and a
half to get back to the original looking
tree. Realistically I had only found just
two other places I could actually get
to the waterside and give myself a
decent view. There were just too
many fallen trees across the margins,
and it was impossible to climb onto
these fallen trunks, as the composted
mud was just too deep and soft, so
even with just a light footstep it
would sink with no weight at all. The
first new place I found was almost
opposite my favourite tree. It was no
more than a mass of twisted roots, but
with the added leaf litter it made a
semi-hard platform just a metre in
size. Above me was a huge chestnut
FREE LINE 119

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