10 Dec 2015

Two floods in five days in Lake District village of Glenridding

First off a big shout to the five Keswick lads who got into Glenridding in their land rover last night at around ten.

The comments of Cumbria Police that “you would need a submarine to get through” proved, well let’s be polite, somewhat exaggerated.

Perfectly accurate, by contrast, appeals for help from The Glenridding Hotel were all too obviously urgent.

If the road into the village was a torrent (if passable) after hours of fresh rainfall, then the village was a disaster all over again.

For the second time in five days the beck simply filled up with debris and burst out along the main street of the village.

For the second time in five days, two caterpillar diggers and one wheeled digger worked through the night – or at least from the early hours, to save the village.

For hours, on police advice, they stood back and watched the village flooded out again, unable to move in: “We could deal with this in a matter of an hour or two by re-excavating the beck,” Robert Morris-Eyton tells me, “but the police are telling us it’s too dangerous.”

“What’s your assessment?”

“The police are telling us it is too dangerous,” he smiles back knowingly and diplomatically.

With no choice he headed to the nearby Inn on the Lake and had a warm-up and dry-out.

Somewhere around 2 am, with or without any police go ahead, they went back out and went at it, re-scooping the beck, and they were still going at lunchtime as I was writing.

But something is seriously amiss in this village.

Robert Morris-Eyton’s firm, Beckside Construction, simply turned up to do this job ahead of the authorities on Sunday, yet last night, after several hours of rain, it was as if they had never been here.

The logic of this is, although they are doing the job all over again, it may prove equally futile, come the next spell of intense rain.

In the Glenridding shop owner Craig Brown returned with us this morning to find his shop wrecked for a second time in five days.

“It’s crazy. Just crazy. It’s like the beck just doesn’t want to go where it belongs any more. But the spirit here is great , everyone is helping out yet again.”

Across the road at the Glenridding Hotel, Elisabeth Ali says last night was worse than during storm Desmond itself: “But you have to get perspective. There are plenty of people far worse off than us in Cumbria after all this – we’ll get back.”

Her biggest fear is that people will be put off coming to Cumbria by what has happened in the longer term.

That seems doubtful this morning with the rain finally gone for now and the austere beauty of Ullswater and the fells glowering over Glenridding at all sides. This is the timeless draw.

The beck at Glenridding seems transient as a problem by comparison. But a problem it is nonetheless and must be managed somehow or this place will be vulnerable to flash flooding every time there is sustained rain.

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See Alex Thomson’s full report on the flood in Glenridding earlier this week:

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