Tales from the River Bank - Drought and Danger

Like most of the country, up here in the Lake District we've been experiencing record high temperatures and one of the longest dry spells we've ever had.  It's the Lake District - it rains!  But not this year.  The Jet Stream has gone adrift and is pouring the stuff over Iceland instead.  Here at the Mill we've only had one shower in more than 9 weeks.  The river is lower than I've ever seen it and the mill pond is murky and full of algae.

The garden has been hit hard too, though I'm managing to keep it going.  The hot dry conditions seem to suit some of the plants - this Tuscany Superb managed to survive Storm Desmond (just) but is now thriving in Italian weather. 

But the old weir is not surviving so well.  It's a very ancient, historic structure.  Apparently there was a weir of some kind here in Roman times.  It's a beautiful stretch of water that provides an opportunity for all the local kids to swim and paddle canoes and generally enjoy themselves.  But the River Authority has closed it in the last couple of days.  There's a notice saying that it's an 'unstable structure'.

A sink hole appeared where the salmon leap is in the centre of the weir, taking a lot of water down and underneath instead of over the waterfall.  It got progressively bigger and more powerful and so the River Authority have piled rocks in as a temporary measure.  They will wash out again with the first rains.

This is all very worrying for us.  Storm Desmond obviously did some damage, old age is taking its toll and the present heat has been enough to bend the steel bars that hold the stones together.  The heat and the drought are cracking the concrete put in to repair the weir 18 years ago. There are cracks you can put your hand in - cracks that will let the water through when the level rises again and allow the river to break up the structure even more.

There are already some very big holes where previous repairs have failed.

What is the answer?  With so little public money available I don't think anyone can justify spending the million or two you'd need to restore the weir.  Particularly as it no longer has a purpose. Its day has gone.  Perhaps we should just let it decay naturally into the surroundings and let the mimulus and the alder and the wild irises take over to create something more beautiful?  What do others think?


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