On Saturday I arrived in Dovedale to find the river in a state of flood. The tarmac road was flooded from about half way up and deepened to over knee deep approaching the Stepping Stones, they were completely invisible. I estimate there was at least 2 ft of water covering them. The Thorpe Cloud riverside footpath was also severely flooded making access into the dale hazardous.
I put out a number of signs advising visitors of the hazards. In addition I asked Steve, the volunteer Patrol Ranger, to patrol the area all day as a point of contact and help for visitors.
Wetton Mill – Ranger Mark Cunningham did an emergency delivery of sandbags on Friday afternoon, and the flood missed getting into the holiday cottages by a few inches. Jeanette, the tea room proprietor, has some spectacular photos of the extent of the water in and around the yard which she intends to frame and display in her tea room. The buildings adjacent to the river were flooded by about 3 ft and Jeanette lost some of her stores which were replaced from stores at Ilam.
In the ManifoldValley, the normally small tributary, Hoo Brook, broke its bank and washed out a huge habitat pile to about 50 yards below its original position, it only being stopped by a stock fence which acted as a giant tea strainer.
Milldale- I placed a sign on Viators Bridge advising the Stepping Stones were flooded – I also swept out the flood debris from the barn and cleared the blocked culvert by the gate.
By Sunday the waters had receded slightly and the top of the Stepping Stones were partly visible. Two of the stones had been dislodged making access across the river impossible. Also a large quantity of debris had accumulated both on the turning circle and the stones – as both were still flooded on Sunday morning I have not removed them. I have made three more signs “Stepping Stones Closed – Damaged by floods” and placed them either side of the cattle grid and on the nearby pedestrian gate.
Even so a good number of visitors walked past the signs and were seen to attempt to cross the gaps in the Stepping Stones – a hazardous exercise considering the force of the swollen river between the remaining stones and the large gap created.
The plight of the nesting water birds can only be imagined. Although the adults would survive any nests with eggs or young near to the water line must surely have been lost, also fledgling young would be swept far downstream, quickly losing contact with the parent birds and bringing their chances of survival to nil.
By Wednesday the river had receded, but was still flowing over the road, indicating the huge volumes of water which are still flowing down from the surrounding hills.