Gale and Cloudburst: Extensive Damage
The heavy storm of wind and rain which raged over the Lake District for six hours on Friday night and Saturday morning caused tremendous havoc, and its violence seems to have concentrated for the most part at the head of the Longsleddale valley. Here damage estimated at £2,000 has been caused by a terrific flood which descended from the hills on the Mosedale side of the valley and reduced Gate Scarth Pass to a tumbled mass of rock and earth for a distance of two miles. Parts of the road leading to the Pass from Sadgill also suffered from the torrent. The theory that the cloudburst had taken place during the night at the head of the valley was strengthened by the state of the track when a party from Kendal set out on Monday on a tour of inspection. The ravages of the flood became evident half a mile up the valley from Garnett Bridge, where trees, the roots of which had been undermined, had fallen across the River Sprint. Sadgill appears to have been the spot where the torrent began to find its level, after rushing at great speed down the Gate Scarth Pass. Here it spread out over the pasture lands and inundated an area of over 100 acres. The width of this miniature lake was about 290 yards, and, whipped as it was by the high wind, the expanse of water resembled a turbulent sea. The existing banks of the River Sprint, which, normally, is never more than two or three feet deep, were hidden completely, and the water was so high as to flood over the bridge which leads to the farm of Mr. Myles Fishwick, a thing which has never been known to happen before. Cattle grazing in the fields had a marvellous escape from being swept away and drowned, and as the waters [began] pouring down from the hills the animals sought refuge on the crest of a hillock. In the morning they had to wade shoulder high, and in some cases swim, in order to reach the milking sheds. No loss of cattle was reported, but one tup belonging to Mr. Fishwick was drowned. The farmer mentioned heard the storm raging through the night, but he had no idea of its actual intensity until early the next morning when, in his words, he "received the shock of his life" at the sight of the wide stretch of water over his land. The termination of the rainfall at about five o'clock on Saturday morning gave the flood an opportunity of subsiding and of escaping down the valley into the River Kent. At six o'clock the River Sprint had dropped to two feet above its normal level, although throughout the week-end it continued to be fed by innumerable ghylls formed in the hills by the rain. The scores of waterfalls along the whole of the valley formed a wonderful spectacle as the torrents cascaded over beetling crags and dropped hundreds of feet below. Additional grandeur was given to the scene whenever the high wind caught the falling water and swept it back over the hill tops like smoke from gigantic bonfires.
BOULDERS SWEPT DOWN BY FORCE OF TORRENT.
The pressure exterted by the tons of water which poured down must have been tremendous, for, from the top of the pass almost down to Sadgill, a deep and irregular gulch, varying from two to seven feet deep, had been carved in the middle of the road, whilst on either side, boulders, weighing anything from 15 cwt. to two tons, had been piled up. Some of these had been picked up from the mountain side and swept twenty and thirty yards down the track. The amount of debris heaped up is almost incalculable, but a rough estimate is that between 15,000 and 20,000 tons of rock and earth has been brought down by the torrent. At the worst part, over a distance of 2,000 yards, the amount of debris deposited averages five tons to every yard. At one particular spot it is possible for the head of a man of medium height standing in the trench to be quite twelve inches below the level of the ground. Part of the track has been washed away to a depth of two or three feet, exposing the rock strata well below the foundations of the existing side walls. The way in which these walls withstood the force of the water is remarkable when it is realised that whilst great rocks were swirled about like leaves the walls remained standing. The only place where gaps have been torn in the walls is at Sadgill. Yet, indirectly, it was the very strength of the walls that made the damage so tremendous and extensive, for had they caved in for a distance of a few yards the flood would have been diverted down the hillside and over a mile of the track would have been unhurt. It is estimated by Mr. J. W. Nelson (surveyor to the South Westmorland R.D.C.) that to repair the road will cost between £1,800 and £2,000. The matter which his Council will have to now consider is whether the slate quarrying industry at the top of the Pass will justify such an expenditure. The quarry is the property of the Wrangdale Head Green Slate Company and it is now, of course, impossible for the slate to be brought down the hillside. Fortunately, the bulk of the slate recently cut had been got away before the storm broke, but there is still about 40 tons lying in the quarry, and one contract will now be held up for an indefinite period. The workings have not suffered much damage from the storm, the washings of gravel into the quarry forming the most serious obstacle. The foundations of culverts along the lower part of the road have been weakened by the abnormally high rush of water from the hillsides. The cloudburst must have taken place along the whole of the top of Buckbarrow Crag, the solid sheet of water then sweeping down the Gate Scarth Pass, breaking up the road down so far as "Laal Lunnon." Mr. Joseph Dodd, a farmer, of Stockdale Farm, was aroused in the middle of the night and was terrified to hear huge boulders rumbling down the hill by the side of his house, brought down, no doubt, by the sudden rising of the mountain streams. It is believed that it will take ten to twelve months to repair the damage. The Kent at Kendal rose two feet and subsided two feet within an hour.
NOTE:- Myles Fishwick farmed at Tills Hole