CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Cupwith Reservoir braved the chill to take a dip in the icy waters.

The Cupwith Reservoir Action Group (CRAG) held a picnic at the picturesque site – and then dived into the water.

They’re aiming to halt plans to drain much of the reservoir.

An application on behalf of the owner, the Earl of Dartmouth, has been put before Kirklees Council for a new overflow system to keep the reservoir capacity at below 10,000m³.

Pat Jones, of CRAG, dived into Cupwith at the weekend and said: “It was very cold – I had to break the ice to get in.

“But I did it to prove that it’s not as deep as the engineers think. I got about half way out and it didn’t go above the tops of my legs.

“We want to retain the reservoir as it is. We strongly believe that draining it is not the only option to improve safety.

“I don’t think the Dartmouth Estate and the engineers realised the strength of feeling and we hope they’ll consider other options.”

The planning application reveals the Environment Agency (EA) considers the reservoir in its current form to be ‘dangerous’ and has served a notice on its owner requiring safety works.

Cupwith Reservoir is owned by the Earl of Dartmouth and managed by Carter Jonas. The application was submitted by Darlington-based Rosscroft Ltd.

Under the Reservoir Act 1975 the estate was ordered to carry out repairs to the most severely eroded areas upstream, repair the overflow channel walls and carry out other safety works. Alternatively, they can discontinue the reservoir.

A report shows that the reservoir would have its capacity reduced from 25,000m³ to 10,000m³.

But the Action Group believes they have over-estimated how much water is in Cupwith – the report shows the maximum depth to be 2.50m, but Pat Jones says her reservoir-walk shows it’s not as deep as first thought.

Further reports are being carried out by the Action Group, the Environment Agency and the Estate’s contractors.

CRAG say losing the reservoir will mean the loss of an historic landmark as well as an area of beauty.

Pat added: “A lot of people didn’t realise the significance of Cupwith – they didn’t realise it was a reservoir which served the textile mills, but thought it was a tarn, more of a natural water source.

“It’s also one of the only moorland areas with water that is accessible by people with disabilities.

“A lot of people go up there and in recent weeks we’ve see more and more people up there.

“We should fight to retain the history, as well as the natural beauty.”

CRAG has seen support increase from birdwatchers, ramblers, swimmers and families.

Pat added: “Generations of families have visited Cupwith. Older people remember taking the tram to Outlane, then horse carriage to Nont Sarahs. From there they walked to Cupwith where they picnicked before walking down Merrydale to Slaithwaite to catch the train home.

“On summer days it was described as being like Blackpool beach.”

A further event is taking place on December 28 at 11am, dubbed a Toast to Cupwith.

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