Sound Survey #1: Nether Spurgear and Holme Wheels

A shaky first attempt at a Porter Brook field recording late last night.  IMGP0835Laden with hundreds of pounds worth of very steal-able recording gear, I walk into Endcliffe Park at around ten thirty.  I’m attempting to get some clean, crisp, traffic-free recordings of the Porter Brook as it works it’s way through the remains of the centuries old weirs, sluices and goits.  It was a useful ‘trial run’, if only to demonstrate that sound recording in the great outdoors in the pitch black is unwise.

Still, complete with head torch, clipboard, tripod, headphones and, of course, my Tascam, I cut a creepy figure as I point my furry microphone at various parts of the river.

IMGP0834I focus on the action, obviously.  I want the places where the noise of the water is strong enough to drown out (no pun intended) the general background noise of trees, cars and, somehow, air.  What I get, generally, is a kind of white noise.  An harsh hissing as the river is diverted into the large mill ponds which are the clearest clue of the water wheel’s previous existence.

I’m interested in the way the two man-made processes create the harshest audio.IMGP0837  The Weir, which tricks the river into taking a diagonal path into a channel which runs into the pond. Here, the water takes on a flat, brittle, hissing sound, rather than the bubbling, trickling, varied noise of the general stream.  Similarly, at the bottom end of the ponds, a sluice gate allows overflow water to gush out violently, down prettily landscaped waterfalls back to the river below.  It’s definitely nature vs nurture.  The two ponds loom above the river silently, as it makes it’s noisy and chaotic way along towards the next man-made obstacle.

IMGP0833I try and make notes, tag my locations on the map and GPS (which makes those ‘mobile phone cackles’ at times, ruining my recording)  It’s difficult in the darkness, with the confusing light of the head torch, which destroys your peripheral vision.  I only need to see one or two other park-dwellers to get the feeling that I shouldn’t be here.  They seem like they’re ‘lurking’, but perhaps they’re just ‘sitting’.  Once you get that mindset, it’s hard to shake.  The last recording, at the bottom of Holme Wheel Pond, is cut short as I get spooked and hurry to the relative security of Rustlings Road and it’s street-lit suburban comfort.  It’s the same sensation as swimming in a dark sea, where you can’t see the bottom – my imagination  thinks the worst and I end up furiously paddling back to shore.IMGP0831

I’ll try recording at dawn next time.

10 Jun 2014 23:03 – Lat,Long:

53.3684403,-1.50903466(Holme Wheel Pond – Head, and Overflow)

10 Jun 2014 22:59 – Lat,Long: 53.36840069,-1.51145355(Weir and inlet sluice above Holme Wheel Pond)

10 Jun 2014 22:55 – Lat,Long: 53.36849862,-1.51265282(Natural dam on river upstream of Holme Wheel)

10 Jun 2014 22:49 – Lat,Long: 53.36896708,-1.51534362(River Between Nether Spurgear and Holme Wheel)

10 Jun 2014 22:47 – Lat,Long: 53.36909965,-1.51561101(Nether Spurgear Overflow)

10 Jun 2014 22:38 – Lat,Long: 53.36888273,-1.51762608(Nether Spurgear Weir)

10 Jun 2014 22:35 – Lat,Long: 53.36911645,-1.51807693(River Upstream of Nether Spurgear)