Sunday, 3 January 2016

Four weeks ago today

A short film (taken when the water had gone down enough to make it safe to get out and about).

I'm sorry about the poor quality, Blogger doesn't like hi-res. It's probably better NOT to watch in full screen. I know I'm a shakey camera woman - but not that bad!

The Power of Water

About four weeks ago today we were experiencing unprecedented rainfall. The previous night we went up to Hackthorpe to the NW Dairy Shorthorn annual do (see a previous post), and the wind and rain were beginning to take hold. We drove back down the M6 (thinking rightly or wrongly that it would be less exposed to the elements than the A6 over Shap), passing several overturned lorries. We left all the cups etc in the car and dashed inside, hoping the rain would have stopped by next morning. But by then it was worse. We are on a hillside, and the stock are all inside, so we just battened down the hatches and waited for the rain to ease. Over the Sunday it did ease off and we could go down the fields to see if there was any damage. Becks had overflowed of course and only the road we had made was solid enough to travel on. But when we got down to the "indestructible" bridge we built in 2013 we found the full effect of the force of the water.

The foundations had been washed away and the bridge twisted round.

This meant that there was no way to access about 45 acres of land.

Meanwhile we returned home, across our older bridge over the other beck.

The water had come up and over it, but at first we thought it was unscathed. But, when the flood went down a bit we could see the precarious state of it's foundations.

So now there was no way to access another section of the farm.

Meanwhile the slurry pit was filling up, with the extra rain and run off pouring into it, and we needed to get some muck out, but most fields were too steep, too wet, or cut off. So we took the tractor and tanker down the lane, along the road (B6254), over St Sundays bridge and down Over Bleaze lane and through a gate onto our fields. A small manageable diversion.

But, a couple of days later "road closed" signs appeared on the bridge. It had been inspected and declared unsafe (along with 20/30 other bridges in Cumbria). The water was still high, so there was no way of assessing the extent of the damage. The council erected some temporary barriers and signs, but these didn't stop motorists (and drivers of large articulated lorries) moving them and driving over. James rang the council and asked if we should use some big bales to block the road, and was told OK.

So, by now the only way round to our lower fields is a 20 mile round trip. But we are luckier than some - we are on the Kendal side of the closure. People the other side have to travel and extra 8 or 10 miles to get into town.

Divers have been to inspect the bridge (and we have looked as best we can) and there are large cracks in the structure which may be growing. Definitely not safe to cross! No one knows how long it will be closed, probably  weeks or even months. Or how it will be fixed. Here's a couple of photographs of it unscathed.

And a few random photographs showing water and wet fields, things we have lost down the beck (bales) and things we have found washed down (the horse's head, not the boys).

And finally - a bit of irony and spooky coincidence.

On New Year's Eve we were without water, to the houses and buildings. We rang United Utilities and they worked until about 02:30 next morning to find and fix the burst on the road. The funny thing was it was 3 years and a day since the same thing happened.