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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A-Z Challenge 2018 - British Rivers: 'V' Valency

I studied chemistry at university and thought I had learnt a lot about valency.

I had never heard of the North Cornish village of Boscastle but like many I was shocked to see the TV news in August 2004.


Boscastle Harbour
This photo was taken in April 2004. In it you can see the steep sides of the Valency valley. The river itself is very short - c.5 miles. It has many tributaries, including a very short River Jordan (not one of those in my 'J' post) which joins the Valency just above Bocastle.

In its wooded stretches the Valency looks very mild.

River Valency at New Mills

After several days of heavy rain in August 2004 and 24 hours in which a month's rain came down, the Valency turned into a raging torrent which caused extensive structural damage in Boscastle. Cars were washed away and people trapped in their houses until rescued by helicopters.


The harbour was protected by two stone walls erected by Sir Richard Grenville in 1584. I assume that these are those in the first photo above.

Protected from the Atlantic Ocean by these walls, Boscastle harbour was unprotected from what became the raging Valency.

There are a number of videos on YouTube which show the Boscastle floods if you wish to get an idea about how bad the conditions were.

Photo attributions:
  • Boscastle Harbour: 14 April 2004 by JUweL - CC BY-SA 3.0 Licence
  • River Valency at New Mills: 18 May 2007 by Jan Coupland ex geography.org.uk - CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A-Z Challenge 2018 - British Rivers: 'U' Ure

The River Ure runs close to Jervaulx Abbey near Ripon in North Yorkshire.


River Ure near Jervaulx Abbey
Some years ago (I'm not allowed to say how many) our family visited Jervaulx Abbey, the Cistercian Abbey dedicated to St Mary in 1156.

Inside Jervaulx Abbey (I think) - 19xx
The Ure runs through Wensleydale and after 74 miles its name changes to the Ouse (see 'O'). Wensleydale is famous for its cheese. It was Cistercian monks that made it first. However the cheese now made in the town of Hawes has been made more 'famous' by Wallace and Gromit. 



Along the course of the river is a set of falls gouged out on a one mile stretch of the Ure that appeared in the film 'Robin Hood and the Prince of Thieves.' This is where Robin fought Little John.

The Upper Waterfall at Aysgarth
Unsurprisingly the Aysgarth Falls have become a favourite place for visitors - and not because of the Robin Hood connection.

Photo attributions:
  • River Ure near Jervaulx Abbey: 8 January 2006 ex geograph.org.uk by Chris Heaton - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence
  • Wallace and Gromit video - ex Youtube
  • The Upper Waterfall at Aysgarth: 23 May 2012 by Wehha - CC BY-SA 3.0 licence


Monday, 23 April 2018

A-Z Challenge 2018 - British Rivers: 'T' Tees

There are so many rivers beginning with 'T' - Tay, Tweed, Tyne, Tees, Trent,Thames, Test, Taw, Tamar - it's impossible to cover them all.

So I'll stick to the one I know best.


River Tees 'looping' round the town of Yarm
Here you can hardly miss the railway viaduct that appeared in my 'Theme Reveal' post.

Railway viaduct crossing the River Tees
That's it, together with the road bridge, at the left of the first photo.

Upstream of the viaduct the river looks very peaceful. A seal has been fishing there this week.


You can see the road bridge with the viaduct behind from this shot taken from down stream.


The name of Yarm is derived from the Anglo Saxon 'yarum' meaning 'fish pools'

The road bridge was built in 1400 by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham; now it is twice the width of that 1400 bridge, but original stonework still makes up part of the pillars you can see.

The first bridge over the Tees at Stockton, further downstream, was built in 1771. Until that time the port of Yarm had been the nearest place to the North Sea where River Tees could be crossed. As ships got bigger port facilities moved down river, first to Stockton, then and now to Middlesbrough.

When we first moved to Yarm in 1970 the Tees was a tidal river up to and beyond the town. It was not uncommon for the town to be flooded; high water heights are recorded on some buildings.

In the 1990s a tidal barrier was installed between Stockton and Middlesbrough. The Tees at Yarm is now no longer tidal with the water level controlled by the Tees Barrage.

Geese on the River Tees at Yarm
Raised floodgate on the Barrage
High Tide
Low Tide
Meanwhile back at Yarm the geese line up - 


For their turn in a gala on the River
We cannot leave the Tees without taking a look at some bridges further down river,

The Infinity Bridge at Stockton
(with the Tees Barrage in the background)
The Infinity Bridge was erected to celebrate the end of the 20th century.

You can walk alongside the River from the Infinity Bridge down past the Tees Barrage, alongside the Portrack Nature Reserve. Then if the mood takes you can cross over to the other side via - 

Newport Bridge
Designed as a lift bridge to allow ships to past, the road section is now fixed in place and only small craft pass to go up to the Barrage and through its lock to Stockton and beyond.

Along that stretch of the Tees you may, if the mood takes you, indulge some bird watching.

A curlew in the mud
Closer to the sea you come to Middlesbrough and the bridge that has become an icon for the town.

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge in action


Sunday, 22 April 2018

Sunday Stamps II - 'J'': Australia, Bangladesh

Two Js in one in Australia at - 

Jim Jim Falls - 8 September 2008
The falls are on the escarpment of Arnhem Land in the Kadahu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia.

In Bangladesh I found a jute field.

Bangladesh - 3 April 1973
For other 'J' related stamps just visit the links at Sunday-stamps-j where I'm sure you will find a jewel or two.



Saturday, 21 April 2018

A-Z Challenge 2018 - British Rivers: 'S' Severn, Swale

The challenge this year is taking me to rivers and places that I didn't know well. For the Rivers Severn and Swale it's a different story.


The Old Customs House, Gatcombe, Gloucestershire
My younger son and his family once lived here. The lane in front leads to a watery end in the River Severn if you pass under a railway bridge.

Here is how it looks in a later photograph.

Gatcombe near Blakeney, Gloucestershire
Close to the river it's only separated by the railway.

The Severn Line train passing Gatcombe
My grandsons and I used to climb a bank through the trees on the right.

Accompanied by Milly and Cara
From the walk alongside the trees different views of the Severn could be obtained.

Severn at low tide between Gatcombe and Purton
The Severn is considered to be the longest river in the UK, rising in Wales it flows c 220 miles to run into the Bristol Channel and thence into the Irish Sea and the Atlantic.

Severn Map - Course of the River Severn
In terms of water flow it is the greatest river in England and Wales.

It's almost four years now since we visited Richmond in North Yorkshire to visit its magnificent castle. of course when you are there you get some magnificent views,

Looking down on the River Swale from the castle walls.
It's a long way down if you fall
Better to take a riverside walk - 

But keep off the rocks and not get swept away

Photo attributions:
  • Gatcombe, near Blakeney, Gloucestershire: 4 March 2007 ex geograph,org,uk by Ruth Sharville - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence
  • Severn Line train passing Gatcombe: 20 September 2008 ex geograph.org.uk by Stuart WIlding - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence
  • Severn at low tide between Gatcombe and Purton: 28 June 2016 by Forester2009 - CC BY-SA 3.0 licence
  • Severn Map: 19 January 2015 by Chris bayley: CC BY 2.5 licence


Friday, 20 April 2018

A-Z Challenge 2018 - British Rivers: Ribble

The Ribble has provided a few surprises for me while preparing for the Challenge.

I have always believed it to be a Lancashire river. However I now know that Yorkshire's so called three peaks - Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent in the Pennines - encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble. What's more it is the only major river in Yorkshire which flows westward.

The Ribble was known in Roman times as Belisama a goddess worshipped in Gaul. Although her presence in Britain is disputed the name means the 'brightest one.'

The 75 mile long Ribble flows through the Yorkshire village of Giggleswick, famous for its school and the town of Settle before passing through Lancashire's Clitheroe, Ribchester and Preston. It enters the Irish Sea on England's west coast between Lytham St Annes and Southport.


River Ribble downstream of Mitton Bridge, Lancashire
For those with an energetic disposition you may want to walk the 73 mile long Ribble Way from its mouth to the source. You may be more pleased to know that the walk is split into seven 10 mile long stages.

These days I'd rather admire the other West Yorkshire, River Ribble.

River Ribble above Swan Bank, Holmfirth
This must be one of England's shortest rivers - it's only c3 km long.

I enjoy seeing it regularly on TV in the reruns of the old comedy series Last of the Summer Wine.

Photo attributions:
  • River Ribble downsteam of Mitton Bridge: 26 April 2007 ex geograph.org,uk by Alexander P Kapp - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence
  • River Ribble above Swan Bank: 5 November 2009 ex geograph.org,uk by Humphrey Bolton - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

Thursday, 19 April 2018

A-Z Challenge 2018 - British Rivers: Quin, Quaggy

After the River Piddle we come to two more quaint names for small English rivers, this time beginning with 'Q'.

The River Quin in Hertfordshire has had the charm of its riverside described, even where the river is little more than a brook as one which  "idles its sluggish life away in lazy liberty, without turning a solitary spindle, or affording even water power enough to grind the corn that grows upon its banks."  (Highways & Byways of Hertfordshire 1910)


River Quin near Braughing
This shot was taken c 300m upstream from where it joins the River Rib. The area is prone to severe flooding and in 1922 a donkey and cart were swept away at Sheep's Lane Ford.

In Braughing itself, a former Roman settlement, another ford crosses the road.

Ford at Braughing
It's hard to imagine floods here!

If you should ever visit the village make sure you try the pork sausages which it is famous for.

The River Quaggy is only 11 miles long and runs through the London Boroughs of Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham. It joins the River Ravensbourne near Lewisham Station.

River Quaggy - London
The river has been extensively re-engineered in Chinbrook Meadows and Sutcliffe Park to create a meandering flood plain. The river may look tame in photos but on occasions it turns nasty - flooding after prolonged rains.

River Quaggy in Manor House Gardens, Lee
The Quaggy name - probably derives from 'quagmire'. Sounds appropriate to me.

Photo attributions:
  • River Quinn near Braughing: 25 November 2007 ex geograph.org.uk by Nigel Cox - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence
  • Ford at Braughing: 4 May 2013, ex geograph.org.uk by Bikeboy - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence
  • River Quaggy - London: 24 March 2008 by Paultoff - Free Art Licence - Public Domain
  • River Quaggy in Manor House Gardens, Lee: 15 September 2008 ex geograph.org.uk by Dr Neil Clifton - CC BY-SA 2.0 licence