GLW1511: The Return of Cracalt Water

Sunday 6th December 2015

There is one walk that we haven't previously documented because, one way or another, we have done it so often. Today was different and merits recording.  It had rained solidly for about 36 hours.  Not just drizzle but torrentially and driven by gale force winds.  The news was full of how Cumbria had been affected.  

The river in Kendal was the highest it has been for at least 50 years and that is despite all the flood relief schemes.  Many homes are affected and many roads and bridges closed. In Natland we have got off relatively lightly. Sedgwick Road is underwater with the overflow from the flood pond overwhelming the storm drain and so rushing down the road.

Situated where we are, we knew we would be immune from the worst of the problems but have been taken by surprise by water rising up through the stone flags in the cellar. Fortunately the drain down there still works.  It must have been put in back in 1867 for exactly this purpose.  However in the 20 years we have lived here, it has never been in use. It amazes me that it is not blocked or that the water has not filled the pipes. Lord knows where it is going. Presumably one way or another down into the fields below but how does it get there? 

Cracalt Water, our name for the impromptu lake that appears in the field behind us, is back- bigger than ever we have seen it, despite the drainage system that has been put in.

From our relatively comfortable situation, it was impossible to forego the temptation to explore the surroundings.  Driving was out of the question.  We would simply be adding to the congestion and we had heard that all the bridges were closed.

However, I did want to photograph Cracalt Water from different angles.  Also I was curious to see the River Kent, if possible.

We set off down the bridle path to Larkrigg then turned right along the canal to view the rear of our house.  We were surprised to see the old canal, drained in the early 1950s, looking fit for purpose, if rather lower than its original depth.  I was able to negotiate a way across to photograph both the house and the canal.  

We then continued to Hawes Lane and down towards the bridge.  Several new streams and one new river joined us on the way.

The bridge was closed to traffic.  Not surprising because the downstream wall on the far side had collapsed.  I don't think this was because of the river itself but due to the torrent of water running down the road on the other side, anxious to find the swiftest way down.  

It was clear from the debris that the level had been a lot higher.  That surprised me as it had been forecast to peak in late morning and it was only now early afternoon.

We decided to follow the easterly side path downstream as far as we could.  The open part was not a problem but then in the wooded area the path becomes narrow with a steep drop to the river.  We didn't fancy chancing that but did manage to find a way through, higher up near the stone wall.

Emerging at the far end, we found the bridle path also transformed into a river.  Further along, at a gate, the next rivulet was even wider and deeper with water rushing through the "dry" stone wall..

The foot bridge across the Kent had been taped off by the police but the tape was broken, whether by man or wind was impossible to say.  However there was no way we were going to risk it.

When we reached the road from Sedgwick to Hincaster, we saw the car which I already knew to have been abandoned as it had featured on the news.

© Richard Gill, Great Impressions

I found Richard Gill's photo on the internet and he has kindly allowed me to use it to show how high the water had been just a few hours earlier. By the time we were there in the early afternoon It must have subsided by some 4 ft or more as the car was clear of the water.  It still looked in a sorry state.  Perhaps the occupant(s) were going to or returning from a party as clothing could be seen inside the car, hanging from the grab rail above a rear window.

We walked up into Sedgwick, which seemed untouched except that the cricket pitch was now underwater.  Walking along the canal bank, the lightly wooded section was not badly affected but the fields before and after contained large wet areas which were no doubt feeding the streams we had crossed earlier.  As we approached the bridge, once again the canal gave hints as to how it might have looked in its heyday.

When we returned home, Cracalt Water looked even fuller and the cellar still had one significant and several minor fountains.  As I type this, many hours later, it still runs and I suspect it will for some while yet.

Don, Sunday 6th December 2015

PS  The event has had the pleasant by-product of friends from distant parts getting in touch concerned to see how we were faring. Pretty well, thanks for asking. However, the photos on the internet of roads and bridges washed away and homes under several feet of water makes us realise that we are the lucky ones.  


Distance: 4.1 miles           Height climbed: 301 feet


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