In the seventies, the need for an improved water supply for the town of Vire led to the damming of a valley fed by a little river, La Dathée. This is now a lake, of about 45 hectares, and has been turned into a leisure resource as well as a water reservoir. There is also a large nature and bird reserve. There has been a facility for hiring canoes/kayaks. pedalos and so on for some years. There is also a solid, if not formally paved, walk (randonnée) of 6.25 km all the way round. There are a couple of steep slopes, but the path is good for pushchairs and wheelchairs, as well as joggers. As this is France, at the start of the walk by the carpark, there is a little sign describing the creation of the path. It cost 49000 euros, funded more or less equally, by the Basse-Normandie Region, La Manche Department, and Vire town. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, public spending is identified and defined in France.
France is a bit behind the UK generally, in providing wheelchair access, though it is improving. At this lake there is a special car park for wheelchair users, leading on to a purpose built doc for angling from a wheelchair. There are anchorage points, appropriate level barriers, and of course a flat access lane. There is also a picnic area (this is France), but with a couple of specially designed picnic tables: a bench on one side only, and slightly higher than usual, to allow wheeelchair users to share a tables with other people. Not seen that before. This was funded by the same parts of the state, plus a grant from the Credit Agricole bank.
The last time I went to the lake was after the weeks of heavy rain, in early December. The dam (barrage) itself was fairly spectacular, as in the picture. The river flowing away from the dam was over its banks. The lake itself has burstits banks all round. The Dathée and another smaller river were overflowing as they entered the lake, additional drainage ditches had been cut all round to prevent the paths being flooded.
Copyright Paul Nethercott