This is Wastwater in the English Lake District. It is dark, grim and a bit eerie. It is situated away from the other lakes – the ones that get the tourists and pleasure boaters. There are no pleasure boats on Wastwater. It is also surrounded by mountains – Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike – Englands highest mountain. it is 260 feet deep, and 3 miles long, and the valley at the head of the lake was colonised by Norse farmers in the 9th century. It is quite awe inspiring.
I first visited it in 1979 on my honeymoon, when Diane and I toured the Lake District in a battered old Fiat that was missing third gear and had a hole in the petrol tank. We arrived at dusk and the water was completely still making the lake seem ever more mysterious.
‘Good place to dump a body’ said Diane grinning, and I agreed. ‘No one would ever find it.’ I said, peering through the viewfinderof my little Praktica camera. I didn’t know how wrong I was.
In March 1984, amateur diver Neil Pritt was searching the lake for a missing French hill walker, discovered a carpet bag tied to a concrete slab, and believing it to be a body called the police. Because of the cold dark water, the body was very well preserved and it didn’t take too long for the police to put a name to it – Margaret Hogg.
Within a few days police were knocking at Margaret’s husband’s door in Surrey. Peter Hogg was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife.
At the Old Bailey Peter Hoggs counsel painted a picture of his wife as ‘bad’ and said that she had been unfaithful for a number of years and had taunted her husband with the affair. Peter Hogg was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
Had Peter Hogg rowed out a further 10 yards that dark evening when he slid the body of his wife into the dark waters, he would probably have gotten away with murder – the body would have sunk far deeper that the reach of most divers.
The top photo was taken in 1979 with the Praktica – and knowing that Margaret Hoggs body is lying in the black waters makes it quite chilling.