In our last two posts in June we described the warm weather up in Cumbria and pitied the south for its rain. Far better to spend your summer holidays in the Lake District. Now this cocky spirit of ours has taken a battering!
Just three months ago The Larches suffered a big blow. After 24 hours of almost continuous rain – with over 9 cms falling on Skiddaw – a flood of water, debris, trees and stones descended through the forest above the house, as this video shows.
Racing across the fellside garden, it deposited large quantities of silt and rocks in the passage at the back of the house and then continued its path of destruction onto the road outside. Debris and water poured down through the village, leaving much to be cleared. This was without precedent in Thornthwaite.
When we arrived back at the house the next day after attending a wedding in Somerset, a scene of devastation met us. A wide swathe of the garden had been stripped of vegetation and outside piles of mud and rock lined the road. An ancient holly tree had been uprooted from the bank and swept down the slope and into the back bedroom, smashing the window.
A large 16 metres larch tree had come to a final halt at our 1st floor back door, destroying the three flights of steps which had rested on the platform there. At the top of the garden the belvedere and deck (see above), protected by a rock bluff above had narrowly missed the onslaught, but the steps and gangway leading to them had taken the full brunt and were hanging in the air connected only by the stainless steel protection rigging.
Inside the house the back bedroom was covered with a metre of mud with the furniture and bedding unusable, while the two front bedrooms had suffered from some water damage. Everything had to be removed for safety to the first floor and all floorboards lifted, but fortunately there has been no structural damage to the house.
We are now pleased to say that clearing the debris inside and outside has been completed, with 12 large skip loads removed and the house has been successfully dried out by 24 hour use of dehumidifiers. A schedule of repair works to be carried out has been agreed with the insurers and invitations to tender were sent out to contractors. Our aim is to complete the restoration works by early 2013. Things are now looking much better, with the ground cleared and new vegetation growing up on the fellside, as the photo opposite shows. The back steps however have still to be built and the window replaced for the back bedroom.
It has been sad to see so much damage caused, but we’ve received much help and support from people in the village and friends. Fortunately there was no one staying in the house at the time.
We have learnt from this experience just how devastating flooding can be – for many round the world it can bring loss of home, possessions, livelihood and even life. For us the loss is only temporary and we look forward to The Larches being habitable again in just a few months time for friends and visitors. Then we will celebrate with a party!