Whatever happened to gravity?

Living up a hill in the North Pennines at 1000ft above sea level, I had assumed that water wouldn’t be too much of a problem for us. Why should we worry about that when we are all taught in school that gravity means water will naturally flow downhill.

We are another 200ft above the main village so it would seem logical to expect that any excess water up with us should flow down to the village and on into the River East Allen down below us. From there the water can merrily flow on to join the River South Tyne and then head towards Newcastle before in due course meeting the North Sea at Tynemouth.

However it turns out there is more to this than I first knew.

For one thing, the geology of our general area means that there are many points where water simply emerges from underground as a result of the rock formations. This is not a bad thing in some ways because our house is on a natural spring water supply!

Add to that the fact that drainage in some areas of our small patch could definitely be improved. Not so much to turn all this water into someone else’s problem but just to get the excess to run in the right places where it can be better managed.

Standing water at 8am with rain due all day!
Standing water at 8am with rain due all day!

Another key point is that the upland areas of the UK like the North Pennines, particularly the moors higher up from us, are actually great places for holding up water. I’ve seen many articles since we moved to this area about restoring the peat bogs or renewing the sphagnum moss and such like

I don’t claim to understand the subject in any depth but I can appreciate that if water flows more slowly from the moors at the start of the process then it will help. Reducing the amount of water and the speed at which it flows down will reduce the risk of flooding for built-up areas further away.

Faced with a day of heavy rain today and a small herd of Dexter cattle that live outdoors all year round it was clear that a smallholder with a soft streak like me had some quick decisions to make.

Top of the list, I decided that it would be good to let the cattle have a small section of woodland which would keep them out of the worst of the wind and rain for today.

They may be a hardy breed and quite happy living outside in the UK climate but that doesn’t mean I’d be happy sitting inside my house knowing they are just sheltering behind a stone wall.

Happy to be out of the weather for today
Happy to be out of the weather for today

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