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Sunday, 20 November 2011

North Pennine Riverside Trees and Scrub

wear oak tree

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.

river tees barnard castle

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?



Alan Sloman said...

That dam has probably changed the ecology of the river. What are the effects of the rolls on the salmon pools - I would have thought the rolls would have kept them clean. Interesting that... I shall go away and dig about. Blogs do that, at times - they send you off on a tangent. I was supposed to be dong the washing this evening...

Mike Knipe said...

Never mind the washing, Alan. I think the salmon situation is fairly complex. Not too long ago, the mouth of the Tees was a cess pool of chemical splodge, unsuted to yer salmon. But salmon runs have increased a lot over the last few years bith in the Tees and , specially in the Wear. They can't get past High Force, though and never could, so they're running up tributaries. At Hudeshope beck, the other week, I saw salmon running upstream, so I guess that the situation has improved, despite Cow Green. The Tees still runs pretty quickly too....

Alan R said...

You got some decent weather for your walk so that helps. It’s been a fantastic November hasn’t it. I managed 2 short walks but nothing worth blogging about.

Interesting about the Tees.

Mike Knipe said...

We did have a nice day, Alan. We'll pay for all this good wetaher, mark my words young man!