Category Archives: Tales from the riverbank

England after the rain

In 2005 Carlisle was unexpectedly hit by devastating floods and 1600 properties were affected directly. Many householders lost everything and when the water subsided, every home affected had a skip outside. It took some over a year  before they were able to return and then on 5th December 2015, when those same residents were preparing to celebrate Christmas, they were flooded out again in the aftermath of storm Desmond’s record breaking rainfall. This time 2100 properties were inundated.

Carlisle is at the confluence of three major rivers, the Rivers Eden, Caldew and Petteril, and is therefore highly prone to flooding. The city has a long history of flooding with notable floods in 1771, 1822, 1856, 1925, 1968 and more recently in 2005. The 2015 flood level on the River Eden was 0.6m higher than in 2005.

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The 1/8 scale model pictured, is a work in progress and is being created by Phil for C-Art Cumbrian Artist of the Year 2017. Note the logo on the side of the skip which is the alchemy symbol for gold rising  out of the alchemy symbol for water. It resembles a cocktail glass. Some did undoubtedly profit from the misfortune of others.

The prophesy shown above was on the front page of the 2005 Cumberland News souvenir edition. Today, some properties still have a skip outside. Some homeowners have left for good, their houses up for sale or sold at auction.

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Face Time

The river Eden at Armathwaite flows through a sandstone gorge. The sandstone is actually fossilised sand dunes formed 250 million years ago when this area was a hot desert.The towering cliffs have five faces, a salmon and a poem (a corruption of ‘The compleat angler’ by Izaak Walton 1653) carved into them. The carving of the poem is thought to be the work of a Victorian gentleman, William Mounsey and dated 1855. The faces, one of which is represented in the church window (see ‘Return to Eden’ post in ‘stained glass’ category) are thought to be considerably earlier.

The faces are only accessible when the river level is very low and a spirt of adventure and the possibility of an ‘early bath’ should be given some consideration.

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Bob, the proprietor of our village shop Eden Stores is looking to sell postcards of Armathwaite and so Phil took these photographs on a blazing hot spring day (25c !) last week.

Sloe recovery

It was 6th December 2015 when Cumbria was hit by devastating floods. We remained dry but the river Eden was in the order of 30ft above its usual level and the water was up to the second storey at the castle (see earlier posts ‘Eden; a troubled paradise’ and ‘Gate expectations’ in the Tales from the river bank category for photos).

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The river has changed the landscape and the sloe bushes along the bank  which were the source of our Christmas sloe gin and sloe vodka were swept horizontal, weighed down by the detritus carried by the river. After the water receded the bushes looked beyond help. However, Spring has arrived and we noticed that the sloe bushes have started to recover and amongst the tangles of captured flotsam are flowers.

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Still life ….

We are hopeful of a good crop of blue loveliness this Autumn.

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…..Still life

It was good to see other signs of new life along the river …. two families of Greylag geese, ancestors of the domestic goose.

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Greylag goslings

Seeing red

Not too far away from us is a small village called Askham. Phil was over there having a look at some unusual windows in the church of St Peter, built 1832 next to the river Lowther. Luckily he had the camera to hand.

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“Psycho”

 

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“Rear Window”

At the top of a tall tree in the church yard was this little fellow….. Once again the Sony has come into its own; the photograph below was taken hand-held at full 100x digital zoom.

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“Vertigo”?

Red squirrels are on the decline in this country. There’s quite a large colony of them on Brownsea Island in Dorset where we used to live but in the five years we’ve lived in Armathwaite we have only caught a brief glimpse of one and didn’t have the camera to catch the moment.

 

Gate Expectations

The river has dropped and the level is almost back to its usual height.

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The castle building in the foreground was submerged up to the roof and now can be seen again.

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The path under the bridge which is the start of my dog walking route has been gouged out by the river leaving a huge hole about five feet deep.

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A crack has opened up in the abuttment top left of the bridge

The kissing gate found in vegetation downstream  was brought back by a farmer and awaits installation.

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Eden; a troubled paradise

Armathwaite Bridge is a special place for us. It’s where Phil proposed to me on a wet August Bank Holiday weekend and it was the backdrop for our wedding photographs on our sunny April wedding day two years ago. Last week I celebrated my 50th birthday and Phil gave me a painting he’d done while I was away. It’s oils on copper and was just about dry in time … Good job I didn’t look in the airing cupboard !

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Armathwaite bridge ‘Sunrise’

This weekend Armathwaite bridge is a very different place. After a month’s worth of rain fall in 24 hours, the Eden has burst its banks and is a noisy, wild and angry brown torrent. The path I take every day to walk the dogs passes under the first arch on the left. There’s no sign of the kissing gate which is now under water and the river today was almost to the top of the arches.

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Bridge over troubled waters

We tried to get to Armathwaite castle yesterday to see if we could help but we were too late; the water was swirling across our path and we couldn’t get down the driveway. Only the roofs of the first storey were showing above the water today and we’ve seen an emergency vehicle going down the driveway to the castle.

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Armathwaite castle

The trees along the bank are now standing in the river.

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The tide mark of leaves shows where the river reached during last night.

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The river Eden at Armathwaite

Ten miles down river, Carlisle was hit by floods in 2005 and was described as a 1:250 year event. Then they were hit again in 2009 and work commenced to improve flood defences. We looked at the local news this morning and once again homes in the centre of Carlisle have been inundated.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to be warm and dry.

 

Tales from the riverbank

We are very  fortunate to live in our own Eden paradise. Armathwaite is situated midway between Penrith and Carlisle in the Eden valley. The Historic Settle to Carlisle railway line runs through the village and for those who need to venture further afield the M6 is easily accessible via the A6 approximately ten miles in either direction (North or South) as is also true for the West coast mainline. You can be in London from Penrith inside three and a half hours and in Glasgow from Carlisle in a little over an hour.

However ….. The main attraction of living here is the instant access it affords to the open countryside. Only a stones throw from the house is the river Eden and the Coombs wood.  Many routes and circuits are available along the river, through the woods or scrambling up sandstone cliffs. Dependant on weather conditions and energy levels.

The river Eden at Armathwaite

The river Eden at Armathwaite

The river here runs through and over some interesting geological features. The main bedrock in ths area is of sandstone dating to the Permian period 250/300 million years ago. This stone is effectively  fossilised sand dunes formed when the area was a hot desert. The water falls over an intrusion of igneous rock (basaltic andesite) dating to the early Palaeogene  period a mere 56 million years ago. This upsurge of volcanic rock was part of a much bigger event that centred on the Isle of Mull.

Waterfall over the Cleveland Armathwaite dyke

Waterfall over the Cleveland Armathwaite dyke

Just visible in the distance in the photo above is one of twenty viaducts on the Settle to Carlisle railway. Work on the line began in 1869 and was completed in 1876. Approximately 6000 men worked on its construction.

Next to the waterfall is a fish “cop” a walled pool used to keep or trap salmon and the ruins of an associated building.

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