Friday 4 September 2009


The rains finally eased during the morning of September 4 though showers continued throughout the day and the clouds remained low and threatening. Only after dark did the sky start to clear. A bright moon appeared to shine down on the sodden land. All day the radio reported the aftermath of the rain – people evacuated, some rescued by boat, cars swept away, streets awash, bridges and trees swept away, highways and railways closed as the rivers Lossie and Spey burst their banks. The towns of Fochabers and Rothes and the city of Elgin were inundated. In Aberdeen a month’s rainfall fell in 24 hours, the wettest single day on record. As the day ended there were still flood warnings in force for the River Lossie at Elgin and the River Spey from Fochabers to Spey Bay.

In Strathspey there was less rain than further east with 31mm falling yesterday (76mm feel at Lossiemouth) but the River Spey in Grantown-on-Spey was still 5’ 6” above the usual summer level. I walked along the banks watching the surging brown wave-capped waters rushing seawards. In many places the path was under several feet of water and I had to clamber up the bank to the nearby road. Trees and bushes swayed and quivered as the water swirled round them. A few ducks swam up unaccustomed channels pecking at vegetation usually well above the water line. The forecast is for dry weather, at least until late into the next day, when rain may again fall. Then more stormy weather is predicted for next week. This wet summer is not over yet.

Photo info: The River Spey at Grantown-on-Spey, September 4, 3.30pm. Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF-S 18-55@18mm, 1/200 @ f5.6, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.4.


  1. There is definitely something fascinating about extreme weather, every day I drive over the River Mersey in South Manchester and anytime there has been the slightest bit of rain I look down at it as I cross to see the level, probably something to do with the obsession with streams and rivers I've had since I was a kid and the obsession with the way the natural world changes from day to day and month to month.

    The Mersey here has had its banks built up over the decades and now longer tends to flood as the banks are huge due to the ever growing Mancunain suburbia they have to protect. There is the odd flood plain stil left where sluice gates are opened onto meadows in the Mersey Valley green belt, the best of all though is the glof course down at Northenden where the courses grasses benefit from the few floods they allow onto the course each year which works wonders or the quality of the greens! The golf course agree to the local authorities opening the sluices onto the course flooding it when requireed and get a financial pay off for it. The posh folk who want a round often look in bemusement as the mallards and moorhens swim past the hole poles on the 18th though!

    I've always wondered what must happen to all the fish and their nests when the river floods, the local Heron on the Mersey at Northenden seems a bit stressed at the murky waters, I'm sure he is stressed as he can't se the small fish he usually spears!

    There are rumours that our local river the Bollin in Cheshire has an Otter on one of its small tributaries so I may have to go stalk around there over the next few weeks. Luckilly the Bollin has not been built around so when it floods it is just completely natural and beautiful.

  2. Thanks for that comment. I remember the Mersey in South Manchester. I lived in Northenden for a year when a student in Manchester - a long time ago now! Before that as a child I used to explore the River Alt and Downholland Brook near Formby where I grew up. As you say, the way rivers constantly change is fascinating.

  3. Hi Chris,
    I was trying to get your RSS feed but can't find a link on your blog?



  4. That's an interesting question from Trekking Britain. What does happen to the fish? Coming from Upton upon Severn, I've seen and enjoyed paddling on a lot of floods. Birds don't go far. Tree tops down New Street Lane rock with their songs. And when the floods have gone there are usually no stranded fish so I guess they go deep and hide somewhere in their home patch till the floods have gone. Presumably, if the floods lasted long enough to run down the food stores of cold blooded organisms, we would start to get strandings.


  5. Hi James, sorry about that. I hadn't noticed the link had vanished. I'm not sure what it's disappeared! I'll try and restore it.

    John, I think the fish do move into flooded areas but then back into the main river when the floods abate. I'm not certain about that though!

  6. James, the RSS feed appears at but not at or So far I've been unable to make it appear at those addresses. I shall seek advice.

  7. Hi, Chris.

    The Severn has natural and enhanced levees. These days it also has valves on what are known as flood streams. So, if strandings are to be avoided, the fish would have to know when the floods are about to go down and they would have to know at an early stage because the levee around the Ham is four feet higher than the middle of this vast SSSI. Perhaps things are different in fast, clear, upland rivers. I was the only boy in my class at junior school not to go fishing so I can only raise questions, not answer them.

    Incidentally, paddling on floods is fantastic for anyone interested in natural history and farmers give a cheerful welcome to paddlers floating several feet above their inundated ground. It's technically easy in lowland areas like the Severn valley but there are harsh penalties for any mistakes. Above all, strainers, trees through which the current flows. Also barbed wire hidden in hedge tops. So, if anyone is tempted, please take care.

    Best wishes, John

  8. John,

    I don't know much about managed rivers like the Severn. I've tried to find a source for my impression but haven't been able to do so. Certainly even with rivers like the Spey fish could get trapped in flooded fields when there is no longer an outlet to the river. I suspect if this happens the fish are eaten by birds pretty quickly.

    I did go fishing when young in slow moving brooks, canals and pools. I don't remember any of them flooding though.

    Thanks for the advice on paddling flooded areas. I haven't done that but I have waded around in flooded fields.

  9. We were once heading out to North Wales along the A55 and we crosssed the River Clwyd at St Asaph, the River had been deeper during the day before and was easing off leaving huge pools in the fields, I remember the scene so well as I'd never seen so many seagulls in one place in my life, the only thing we could think was that fish had been caught up in the fields pools. We saw a similar situation once passing over a flooded River Eden on the fields by the M6 at Carlisle.