Riding to the club run I was reminded of my Uncle Jim. He used to farm out in the Fens and often bemoaned the overgrown state of his neighbours ditches and the poor drainage that was the result. Judging from the choked appearance of most of the local ditches this seems to have become the fashion in land management over recent years. However, as much of England awoke to widespread flooding, I expect the drivers of the two mini diggers I saw retrenching a clogged ditch first thing this morning, may be questioning the validity of this trend.
Further along the road a local resident was taking pictures of the water logged ditch adjacent to some flooded allotments. No doubt a strongly worded letter to the Parish magazine or council is being written as I write this!
I had intended to meet the club for the Sunday morning run at Great Staughton, however, the overflowing River Kym was obstructing their passage into the village. Only Mark was willing to ford across while the rest tried for a longer detour to Kimbolton. We had originally planned to ride over to Oundle, via Kimbolton, to take a look at a new cycling shop there, but already we were thinking the days route may need more flexibility than usual.
Where the road dipped down to cross the River Kym between Stonely and Kimbolton, only a narrow strip of pavement was visible. Further along even that disappeared and the road was fully submerged, as was the T-junction where we had expected to see our group appear from. Clearly, there was no way we were going to cross that stretch of swollen water. Two nearby houses had flood gates across their driveways. A water pump was working hard to keep one garden merely sodden rather than inundated. Hopefully they have managed to keep their floors dry.
Still, there is no accounting for idiocy and floods have a habit of encouraging poor judgement in some. While taking a few photos of the Kimbolton flood waters, a van drew up alongside. The driver asked if I was riding through. Not a chance I replied. He said he would risk it. The road and verges ahead were fully submerged, and you did not need to know the road well to reason the murk ahead may be deep and a crossing unwise. So, I gave the waters a doubtful look, cautioned against crossing and wished him luck. With that he drove forward, and decided speed was the key to a successful crossing. Soon an impressive bow wave was advancing in front of his radiator grill. A few seconds later his van’s lights winked off as its power failed, leaving him stranded in the flood water.
After a few voice messages with the rest of the group we finally agreed to try to meet them at Thurleigh farm for a coffee. However, our progress was again impeded by more flood waters between Staughton and Keysoe. They were fordable albeit with soggy feet.
Our group were not at Thurleigh, some had gone home while others pressed further south, so we never did meet up. Mark and I decided to have our coffee then head home, which ever way we went we knew we would need to re-cross some of the flood waters.
Despite the curtailed route and icy toes it was a good day to be out. After the previous night’s storm, the sun was out and the novelty of the floods had imbued many folk we saw with a feeling of camaraderie. The adverse conditions set an even gentler tempo on what are already quiet roads. Conversations were struck where normally people would pass each other by without a second thought. We flagged down drivers heading towards impassable roads and were ourselves flagged down and warned against a difficult section. I couldn’t help thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if this days attitude was the norm.