Floods are in the news, and they are a serious matter, but this short blog post is mostly a flood-related story against myself, and is of little wider relevance or importance.

There’s a road near where I live which often used to be flooded. Some unblocking and ditch-building and various other bits of engineering have prevented floods from happening in recent years.

But one evening last week, when I was heading to a meeting on recycling (of all things) I saw the road was closed because of a new flood. I should have turned around, the detour wasn’t very far, but another car went on through the flood and so, I shrugged, and followed, and almost got all the way through but not quite…

The noise a car engine makes when it dies in a flood is a sad noise.

I had wellies, and managed to put them on inside the car, and was relieved to find that they just were tall enough to allow me to stand in the flood, push the car (uphill) a few yards out of the flood and into a safe place.

Now, as regular readers will recall, my car is not a new pair of wheels, it has 250,000+ miles on the clock, so it is possible that its end is near anyway, but I felt pretty foolish, sheepish and chastened as I sat turning the engine over with no result. This was not bold sensible behaviour.

I walked home, and in the morning walked back to give it another go – no joy. So I walked to the local garage and after pointing out the Peregrine on the church spire, told them what I had done.

There was quite a lot of sucking of teeth, blowing out of cheeks and looking at the ground which seemed to add up to ‘You’re a bit of a prat, but the customer can do no wrong’ and we went back and I got a tow back to the garage (great service!). As we hooked the tow rope up the Peregrine was circling over head – good view actually.

Their parting words were ‘You might be looking for a new car, sir’.

So I hired a car for a couple of weeks and then had a cup of tea in the garden (this is Friday morning). When I went back inside I looked out of the front window and noticed my car outside. The garage had brought it back after about 90 minutes. I sat in it. I turned the key. The engine hiccupped slightly but roared into life (well, roar is a bit of an exaggeration but not too much). It hadn’t died, I hadn’t killed it, my car is still alive.

Not much of a story really (I hope you were impressed by my attention to Peregrines in such a trying time) but the interesting thing really is that the flood was back. I suspect that the flood is back because there is a track built across a field. The track is built across the field because some houses are being built there. Now I have heard many locals say that building houses in that field is a recipe for floods. I think they are right. I hope that anyone looking to buy a new house there in the summer will be told about the possibility of floods in the winter.

Floods are a product of heavy rain, but heavy rain falling on some substrates will lead to more floods than heavy rain falling on other substrates.

Look up – there may be a Peregrine.


16 Replies to “Floods”

    1. Good to see Prof Rotherham pointing out upland mismanagement. Bio-diversity, Natural Flood Management and carbon sequestration can all be improved including on the dry heath (thinner peat) areas by changing habitat and stopping bad practice. The public owned, NGO managed southern moors in the Don catchment are well on the way to implementing this. Meanwhile the northern grouse moors increase run off by burning blanket bog and heath and in the Don catchment we are paying them around £1 million pa HLS money to do this. Much (most?) of the proposed £80 million flood defences have not been implemented although the bits they have done have been effective. Mark mentioned tracks – the one at Strines has still not been removed. Good management of uplands won’t completely remove flood risk but it will make a really positive difference.

      1. Bob, I wonder if there are past measurements of run – off, from these now unburned
        Eastern moors, to compare with the future as new management progresses ?.
        Certainly, on the Derwent side, from moorland that has not been burned, for management
        purposes,for many years, the streams have been as torrential as ever.
        As you are no doubt aware, there are now many hundreds of acres of scrub woodland, along
        the eastern edges, that must be slowing ground water run off.
        Maybe, as these trees colonise the open ground above, as they are rapidly doing in places,
        they will have some bearing on water entering the streams.

  1. A lovely post on several levels (incidentally very intrigued at you attending a meeting on recycling), and an acute observation based on local knowledge and experience. Just over three weeks ago the Scottish Gamekeepers (sic) Association posted a feature on their FB page about the spread of hard landscaping and concrete over previously open ground in Edinburgh. This would in turn reduce the city’s potential to absorb rain water and release it slowly, and so the potential for flash flooding would rise. That explains the SGA highlighting the feature, they could point at an urban area’s contribution to its own flooding and thereby diminish the importance of that from rural sources including grouse moors. It all adds up, every little bit counts, but Perth, Carlisle, Gloucester weren’t hit by massive floods because of front ‘gardens’ becoming gravel beds it was due to lots of rain falling on lots of hills some way away with very few trees on them. Plus of course a million wrongs don’t make one right and very often the conservation, environmentally orientated people concerned about the state of the countryside are also the ones railing against the de-greening of urban spaces which costs us wildlife, cleaner air and flood protection too.

    I’ve noticed recently in particular on social media that when you confront the opposition with the statement their bloody grouse moors are contributing to the flooding of homes, businesses and genuine farmland (as opposed to upland subsidy ranches) downstream, on the rare occasion you get a response it often is ‘houses only get flooded because they were built on a floodplain’ – doesn’t that compassion bring a tear to your eye? Obviously if anyone’s house gets flooded it’s because they concreted the front garden so they could park the car on it, and it’s situated in a floodplain which of course it’s always been possible to totally avoid doing even though the floodplain might have grown a bit with the increased run off from the hills – them bloody useless townies eh!?! Yes it does look like houses are being built where they really shouldn’t, a couple of months ago I was volunteering for the Scottish Wildlife Trust manning a stall promoting the beaver and it’s flood alleviation abilities in Livingston when someone told me of a local housing development that had just been built in a flood prone locality that as a civil engineer had shocked him. That really, really doesn’t help clearly, but is that the conscious fault of home buyers or are they naive to think – silly them – developments would never be allowed where there’s a naturally higher risk heavy rain could turn the front room into a swimming pool? Unlike the lord of the manor, most people have had limited choices as to where they could live and often villages and towns could never realistically be away from flood plains as they would like – rivers were needed for trade, transport and often to provide power for early industry. Today new houses near rivers are more sellable, so there’s money to be made, but would people be so eager to buy them if they knew how much developers are being let off with when they shouldn’t? Like certain interests being allowed, and even helped with public subsidy, to wreck the uplands and their capacity to hold back water the public are caught in a pincer movement by another vested interest given little restraint from government by being allowed to build houses where planning permission should never have been granted. I wonder if any of the significant disposable income generated for some by those buying houses in dodgy locations ever gets spent on a day’s driven grouse shooting? Probably.

  2. How did they manage to get the car going (in case anyone else ends up in the same embarrassing situation)?

    1. James – I don’t know, Gells of Raunds are wizards!. I haven’t had the bill yet – that might provide some clues. But it was quick!

    2. I suspect they just let it dry out, replaced the battery and air filter, and sprayed some waterproofing oil over the engine bay.

      Unless you’ve sucked water up the exhaust (in which case the engine is toast) it is mainly a waiting game for connections and filters to dry off.

      If you are going to drive through a flood, you want high revs and a low gear, and never to stop moving until you get out the other side, because it is forward momentum that keeps your air intake and exhaust pipe clear. And only go when there is nothing coming the other way, because their bow wave might swamp your bow wave and then you are screwed.

      And never go through if you have an Austin Maestro, because it turns out the alternator placement on those make handling even deep puddles deeply problematic and fraught.

  3. I think you were quite lucky Mark that very probably water did not get actually in the engine itself because once that happens it is usually a right off.
    Anyway, I am at the NBN Conference in Nottingham at present and talking of floods, Tony Juniper is speaking tomorrow. They allow an opportunity for questions afterwards so I hope to have an opportunity to raise the issue of driven grouse shooting and the destruction of our moors and moorland wildlife and raise comparison with the success of the Irish Hen harriers.
    Also, Sir John Lawton spoke today on mostly rewilding big areas,very good indeed.

  4. Who’d have thought this would become best blog for motoring tips?

    Most impressed with some of the replies (especially those from Random).

    How about branching out to DIY (especially home plumbing), racing tips, football punditry, celebrity gossip?

    As we’re always being told, it’s good to diversify.

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