WHEN Storm Ciara arrived last weekend, it was one of the few occasions I can remember when the weather warnings turned out to be accurate. In Lancashire we were lashed with rain of film-set intensity. It was genuinely like having bucketsful thrown over you. Water cascaded down our chimney and came in under the front door. Luckily our floor is flagged.
For me it was a reminder of the sheer power of water. The stream at the back of our house rose from its usual few inches to about three feet of churning, ferocious energy. The first time I saw it that high, a few years ago, I was puzzled by an intermittent clanking or clunking sound above the noise of the water. It sounded a bit like rocks being bashed together. Slowly I realised that it was exactly that – rocks rolling along the bed of the stream. Every time the water subsides, a new pattern of boulders has appeared. Some of them are large, maybe the equivalent of a two-foot cube. I guess they would take two or three hefty men to shift them. The sound of them bowling along as if they were footballs is exhilarating, the earth’s forces in action in front of you.
I wonder where they come from? There seems an inexhaustible supply. My best guess is that they are glacial moraine, the debris dumped when the glaciers which covered this part of the world receded about 11,000 years ago. Our stream is gradually uncovering the deposits and taking them to the sea, grinding them as they go, ultimately to form new rock deposits an unimaginable time hence.
Half a mile from us, the Ribble burst its banks on Saturday. It seeped and then poured through a stone wall separating it from a road. Knowledgeable folk told me there were holes in the wall to protect it from being knocked down by the force of the water, but nevertheless huge chunks of stonework collapsed. An intrepid soul made a video in the area, and you can see the damage to which I refer at about 1’ 50”.
By the time I went to take pictures the bulk of the rubble had been cleared away (I felt sure I could rely on it taking weeks) but perhaps you can see how powerful the surge must have been from this picture of a wall on the other side of the road which has been swept into a field, its stones strewn for many yards. It too is visible in the video, opposite the collapsed river wall.
The vicious wind and rain has finally departed but, as I write, Storm Dennis is on the way . . .