From the vaults: The wettest drought in history? (28/04/2012)

The wettest drought in history?

I was about to post that – for a brief while at least – it hasn’t been raining. In the time it took to type in the post title the first spots of the latest downpour appeared on the window and on the stone slabs just outside. April has been almost a complete washout; plans for trips to Wales or The Peaks have been deferred, deferred again, and as of today remain firmly on hold.

We ventured as far as the Severn valley again earlier today (the actual valley of the river, rather than the similarly named preserved railway). The rise in water levels over the last couple of weeks has been astonishing, as is the speed at which the river is now moving. Mature trees growing from the banks – ones which were, until recently, well clear of the river – are now already submerged to beyond two thirds of their height. Some paths have disappeared below water; others will soon follow. Deeper, wider, faster flowing – all visible evidence of the sudden increase in the volume of water.

Locals who know about these things tell us that rain falling on the Welsh uplands will pass through the Bridgnorth-Worcester stretch of the Severn about four days later. It has rained pretty consistently over the last four days, so there’s a lot more to come down from Pumlumon Fawr; a lot more to come down from the sky too, if the forecasters are to be believed. First level flood warnings, running from Shropshire as far south as Gloucestershire, are showing on the Environment Agency website; hopefully things will get no worse than that.

I can live with the rain; it’s part of the deal and without it our landscape wouldn’t be our landscape. The way in which the river has been transformed so quickly from its leisurely amble through the Shropshire countryside to a fast-moving and substantial mass of water is a potent reminder of the power of natural forces. That said, I’m feeling ready now for shorts, trail shoes, t-shirt, and the opportunity to rest for a while, on a patch of dry ground on a warm day, while the wildlife carries on its business around us. I want to sit with a drink and a sandwich, propped against a sun-warmed rock, watching the birds, admiring the view. Not too much to ask is it?

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