Fast-flowing Northern rivers help stop flooding

I was up on the moors near Crown Point the other day taking Monty for his essential daily constitutional. As I walked, I bumped into a chap doing likewise with his dog, and bracing ourselves in the face of a stiff wind we chatted briefly about our national obsession: the weather.

Wednesday, 19th February 2014, 9:51 am
Prime Minister David Cameron with MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (3rd left) during a visit to Somerset. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Both of us took the view we were tired of months of endlessly wet ground that pretty much makes gardening no more than an armchair occupation. Walking, while less pleasant if wet underfoot, is at least still practical but finding new reasonably mud-free routes is becoming much more of a challenge.

Of course we are far better off than those poor people down South who have had their lives turned upside down by flood waters on an unprecedented scale, especially so in the Thames valley. Wifey and I were walking along the river bank between Oxford and Abingdon last October and I was surprised by how high the water was compared to surrounding fields and properties. All will now be under flood water.

Up here we get more than our fair share of rain but at least our fast-flowing rivers mean we are able to pass it on very quickly, so that within a day waters from Pendle are pouring into the Irish Sea. On the Thames floods slide sedately east over a number of days.

Prime Minister David Cameron with MP Ian Liddell-Grainger (3rd left) during a visit to Somerset. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Not only that, with ample high ground about, water is shed quickly into the river systems.

This means that when good weather presents itself, we are able to avoid sloshing around in the wet flatlands and get out for a walk on the drier high ground. Such was the case last Monday when, at very short notice, we found ourselves on the high ground to the west of Windermere.

Under chilly but generally blue skies we were able to enjoy excellent walking with views to die-for from the partly forested Claife Heights. The tracks here of good quality and the lakeside track south of Wray Castle a delight. We saw no more than perhaps half a dozen people all day following the gently undulating tracks between Hawkshead and Lake Windermere (pictured).

To add icing to the cake, we even managed a quick pint in the National Trust pub at Near Sawrey followed by the simple pleasure of the ferry crossing back to the road for home.

All time very well spent but soon my priorities will change as all around there were signs of spring, but the garden can wait another week or so to give the ground a chance to dry out. We can be sure it will happen much more quickly than will the case further south.