To the Lakes for winter sun?

Judging by the emails I keep getting for winter holidays in foreign places, you’d think that we never see the sun in the UK. Yes it has been bad these last ten days in the Lakes with so much rain, but it didn’t stop our weekend party of friends enjoying good local walks in Whinlatter Forest; and to the top of Sale above Bassenthwaite where we had marvelous 360° views of the north-west fells.

The previous week though was something very different. Breakfast was on a sunny Belvedere terrace and over several days we had amazingly clear light, ideal for walks and photography. The three photos below show how the views from the Belvedere of Skiddaw and the marshes have changed so dramatically over the course of just 10 days – as sun was followed by continuous rain to create a new lake on the marshes!

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Wettest day in a millenium

IMG_3445e It’s usually docile, slinking its way without fuss through the marshes to Bassenthwaite and beyond. But this last week the River Derwent has shown another very different and violent face.

With unprecedented rainfall of over 300 mm in 24 hours last Thursday in Borrowdale, the sheer volume of water pouring off already sodden fells could no longer be contained. Bridges, walls, trees, cars were swept aside as raging waters spread across fields and dykes, raced down streets and wrecked houses in their path.

Most of the national news stories have shown the damage, destruction and despair caused downstream in Cockermouth and Workington, but Keswick and the surrounding villages have had their share of heartache too as the photos below show.

Shops and houses have been flooded, people made homeless, roads closed and at least one bridge over Newlands Beck has collapsed at Little Braithwaite. The wide flood plain of the marshes has taken the brunt of the storm waters and turned Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite into one huge long lake (see Photo above and Nos 3 and 5), but the forecast of more heavy rain this week could bring further misery. Fortunately The Larches and Seldom Seen have been largely unaffected, though there was spillage of surface water onto the road as the gulleys had not been regularly cleared.

Rainfall in the area has been higher than ever recorded anywhere in Britain. Important bridges downstream in Workington and elsewhere have been smashed and inspections of more than 1800 bridges in Cumbria could bring further closures. Inevitably all this raises questions about whether this calamity to hit North West Cumbria is the result of wider worldwide climate change.

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