Friday, 10 January 2014

The Christchurch Avon in Flood

On Tuesday we walked up onto St Catherine`s Hill in Christchurch, to see the extent of flooding after the recent heavy and persistent rainstorms. 

Up through the pines and silver birches, the ground underfoot was wet and slippery.

When we reached the top of the hill we saw the River Avon`s floodplain stretching out to the east and southwards towards Christchurch Harbour, where it meets the River Stour and then flows into the sea. This week, with a new moon and high Spring Tides, the already swollen river waters from both the Stour and the Avon have met incoming tidal seas on high winds. The valleys of both rivers are now saturated and flooding for miles inland. Homes have been flooded, farmland is under water and many roads have been closed across the region.

Looking across the flooded Avon Valley, towards the villages of Burton and Winkton.
At Burton, a small herd of grazing horses became marooned in floodwater this week. They were rescued by a specialist animal welfare team.

The flooded farmland below the hill is watermeadow pasture during the summer months. 

We were sorry to see graffiti sprayed on the familiar old trig point.

Looking north, flooding stretched on up the valley towards Ringwood.

A view downstream towards the Harbour, where the hill of Hengistbury Head can be seen in the distance and the tower of Christchurch Priory Church is just visible to its right.

We knew that another belt of storm clouds was due to arrive later that day, so we went for a brief, brisk walk around the top of St Catherine`s Hill.
Below is one of the Bronze Age burial mounds, behind a stand of silver birches.

An orange jelly fungus, bright against a wet woodland background.

On the hilltop there are still a few garden plants growing wild, like this red berried cotoneaster. There was once a sand quarry on this hill and it is said that there was a workers cottage too. The plants are thought to be from the old cottage garden.

The sand quarry now forms a crater on the summit of the hill. Rain has collected into a pond.

The flooded Avon Valley looking north.

Several trees showed branches snapped in recent high winds.

Moss beneath a tree.

The track downhill.

                        By the time we reached home, rain was pouring from the skies yet again.


Countryside Tales said...

I feel for the people who's homes and livelihoods have been affected by the flooding, but I always find it amazing to see nature working ie flood plains doing their job- it is a really impressive sight.
Do you know St Catherine's Hill in Winchester- it has an iron age fort on the top, strikes me as very similar to the one at Christchurch. I love the thought of the cottage garden plants remaining on the hill long after the house has gone.

Kath said...

great photos. I heard on the radio that snow is coming next, to Kent today, apparently.
I do like to see plants hanging on and growing in odd places, like cottage garden plants holding their own amongst rough grass and weeds. I like to see Buddliea set up home in the oddest places (I know of one in a roof gutter, about 5ft tall!).

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you managed to keep your footing.
We have escaped the worst of the wet weather so far up here in North Yorkshire. I feel so for the folk down South who missed Christmas because their power was off and their homes were flooded.
Keep dry if you can.

Heart of the wood said...

Those bright red berries! Some lovely images on your blog, and also some alarming ones such as the Avon floodplain in flood. Once again I'm glad I live up a hill!

WOL said...

Sad to see all the flooding, and those poor families whose homes have flooded. Hope you'll dry out soon.

Ragged Robin said...

Its very sad to see the extent of the flooding. I feel so sorry for people badly affected by current weather conditions - we have escaped lightly here.

Such a shame too about the graffiti :( I did love to see the cotoneaster berries and hear the story of them being left from an old cottage garden :)

Louise said...

Lovely views but it's sad to see all the floods. I can't imagine what it must be like to suffer flooding, it doesn't happen around here.

Rowan said...

It has been so dreadful in your part of the country, we've been more fortunate in this area but I feel so sorry for all the people and animals affected by the flooding. Let's hope that the worst is over now and that we will have a period of dry weather to give things a chance to recover.

Robin Mac said...

What a wonderful blog - thank you so much for visiting my blog and allowing me to find you. I am so sorry for all the folks suffering the flooding, but you have some lovely photos of it all. I shall be back again. Cheers

Down by the sea said...

You can really see the of the flooding from the top of St Catherine's Hill. We never walked here following your recommendation last year. I will do it this year! Glad you manage to miss the rain!
Sarah x