After struggling with the traffic noise around Haldon Forest for several months, I’ve been trying to find a quieter location for recording. For a few weeks I’ve been eyeing up a group of three reservoirs, surrounded by pine plantations a few miles west of Haldon. This morning I headed out before dawn to scout out the area.
The reservoirs are located on top of a ridge on the eastern side of Dartmoor National Park, although they’re separated from the rest of the moor by a deep river valley. Each lake is roughly 1km in length, and each one has a marshy area at the head end, which presumably floods in winter. The area is managed for fishing and walking, so there’s a good network of trails around each lake and through the plantations.
I’m pretty sure this is the quietest place I’ve ever found in south-west England. Of course there’s the inevitable airliners passing overhead every so often, but that aside there’s hardly any audible man-made noise. Normally by 7am there’s too much noise to make recording worthwhile, but at 9am this morning it was still wonderfully peaceful, although the frequency of the aircraft passes was increasing.
The landscape is totally man-made – the lakes are held in place with large earth dams, and the conifer forest is all timber plantation – but with the sun rising through the trees, mist drifting across the water and ravens calling overhead it feels much more like one of the wilder parts of Scandinavia or the Western USA than it does Devon!
This recording is a compilation of three clips – a Tawny Owl calling across the water, a Grey Squirrel scolding from a tree and a few minutes of ambience at the head of one of the lakes. It was recorded with my Olympus LS-10 and MiniPIP microphones. I’ll definitely be going back with the heavy gear to get some more recordings when I get the chance!