Friday, 27 November 2009

Cumbria- The Aftermath

The Ullswater Steamer Pier, broken and battered

It's been a fairly traumatic week for Cumbria. Rising floodwaters engulfed many low-lying areas of the county to devastating effect, destroying towns and countless homes along the way. Nearly everyone has a story to tell, some of them worse than others.

The hillsides are so swollen with water that there have been landslides in some valleys. As a geologist, this is pretty exciting stuff.

Waves in't road

The vast dog-legged lake of Ullswater had engulfed the roads on both flanks as well as a number of homes along its shores. Ploughing through waves to get to the end of the lake was fun, but nothing could prepare us for the scene of devastation at the end. Two landslides had steamed down the steep valley sides, taking out two barns along the way.

The toe of the landslide

Waves crashing over the end of the lake

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A Flash of Inspiration

The Great Orme Lighthouse

Stu wouldn’t let on where we were going. North Wales, perhaps? Or Scotland? To keep up the suspense, he mischieviously did a couple of laps of the M6 roundabout. We took the south exit, and so at least that was a clue.

To cut a long story short we ended up at the seaside. Skirting through the well to do areas of Llandudno, though, I still couldn’t guess where we were going. The road snaked out onto the limestone shell of the Great Orme, winding high above precipitous cliffs. And then a faded red and gold sign pointed to the Great Orme lighthouse, now a most unusual bed and breakfast.

An evocative mix of antique wood and diving helmets: the inside of the lighthouse

A perfect antidote to modern civilisation, the Lighthouse hasn’t really changed much since it was built in the late nineteenth century. Not a traditional stripey tower, it is instead a T shaped, turreted limestone castle with the lamp room perched high above a three hundred foot drop to the sea.

Inside the old telegraph room, we watched all 280 degrees of sky turn from bright blue to gold as the sun set. It couldn’t have been a better way to spend my 40th birthday.

Door near St. Tudno's Church