We did the walk by the Wear on Saturday and ten people turned up, including the two stewards Bruce and Eric. I think it went OK; we didn’t get chased by the horses and nobody fell in the river, and we got back in daylight (just).
I took a picture of an oak tree, still with it’s leaves, although they’ve turned colour. Most of the deciduous trees are now stripped and ready for the winter that appears to be refusing to arrive.
But, I’ve had a little insight into what goes on beside these Pennine riversides in terms of trees and undergrowth.
On Friday, I went to the launch of the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership and one little gem of information tickled interest.
And it was this:
The River Tees has, in the past, been subjected to what is known locally as “Rolls”. these are sudden flash floods that happen, or at least used to happen, usually, around twice every year. These flash floods, in the past, have been dramatic and, occasionally, tragic, removing paddling children and browsing cattle. In some places, the spirit of the Tees, one Peg Powler – a River Goddess or, lately a demon or witch, was blamed for this and children were warned not to play by the river lest Peg should rise and take them away.
Peg has also been responsible for removing tree seedlings and undergrowth from along the banks, thus keeping the riversides relatively open. But not any more. Today, if the riverside woods are to be opened up, it needs a team of people with saws and cutters to do it. Peg Powler rolls down the Dale no longer, and the reason is the reservoirs in Baldersdale and at Cow Green. Cow Green finally did for Peg and the Tees now appears from a pipe in the dam in a regular, controlled kind of way. They have recently made the outlet from the dam much bigger lest Peg awake from her slumbers on Meldon Hill
Y’see, you learn something every day, innit?