The Dawn Raiders - Nethergrove Lake
This is a magical little place, just outside the former barracks at Oakington and in the village of Longstanton. I have many stories about this place, which has been developed by individuals within our Club. Percy always claimed it was ‘his’ idea but as in many things it was his brother Lacy who first brought about CFPAS acquiring the lake. When I first saw it I must admit I did wonder what we were doing. Basically we walked through this overgrown field complete with stumps and old dead trees lying on the muddy ground. Like huge termite mounds scattered around the site were little piles of sandy clay and behind these little mounds were water filled channels dug in to the ground. Basically someone had run riot with a JCB and extended an existing ancient pond – it was like someone’s pond in their back garden complete with little islands along with the large overgrown island of the main pond. Huge dead trees lay in the pond and poking through the black silt old bits of iron barbed wire and even an old Lambretta. This was not the sight I had hoped to see, not a lovely farm pond but a mess. Yet still I could see the potential and the magic of the place. This story is about the lake’s early development, which inevitably had input from my friend Percy. What we first saw was not a fishery; we did see a whole lot of fry, which moved, around the lake like black clouds. A prolific breeding pond? Certainly, a potential fishery yes! If we could do some work on it. CFPAS Ltd first venture in developing a fishery. The huge digger moved on to site, piece of cake, just dig out this little island, form a bank, then level this. Well, we did not bank on the rain, it turned everything into slurry with the huge Volvo digger slipping and sliding. Basically the soil structure on the site is a relatively thin layer of top soil with this clay green sand stuff about a foot below. With the tonnage of the digger and the rain the digger just slid over the site. We had to bridge the ditch to get to the pond – basically we filled it in – shhh - don’t tell anyone! – well we dug it out when we left! So what’s the problem? Now the bloke who was driving the machine was not use to creating a lake more like working on a motorway. – Lesson one! Don’t just hire a digger man. I telephoned Percy to tell him of my concern. “Percy it’s not going well!” “What's up son?” “Well I can’t get through to the bloke who is digging the lake”. I could hear a huge breath as Percy drew on his roll up cigarette. “Leave it with me son, I’ll put a few fxxxxs into him”. This comforted me no end. I could see a punch-up looming on the bank. The committee had only awarded us a £1,000 to do the work and as usual we were trying to get as much done for as little money. All the next day I could not concentrate pacing up and down in the office. I need not have worried. That night the phone rang, it was Codshead “Hello son, it Percy Pickles here, how are you old son”? I was anxious to know how the day had gone and Percy opted to milk it like a good one! Eventually he told me the day had gone well having had his little discussion with the digger man – so much so that the machine would be off the next day having completed the work we had wanted. Before work the next day I was up at 4am and shot over to the site. In front of me through the gloom of early morning mist was a lake, yes the slurry around the site was as if we had had a landslide but this little lake sat proud. Little did I realise that this was the start of an adventure with many highs and lows. A venue where Percy and I, having completed planting 100 small trees and shrubs in the snow and sleet, shook hands. Percy sand “I don’t think I will live to see these as proper trees son!” Of course you will I told him and yes he did.