Keep your chinook up

Chair, Stella Ridgway, has had an eventful time in the High Peak.

Since my last missive, it all started with rain; lots and lots of rain. On July 29th, we noticed a video on Facebook of Toddbrook reservoir overtopping – hardly surprising considering the amount of rain we’d experienced. The canal was so full that the water was level with the bank and CRT opened sluice gates near us to feed water into the River Goyt. On Thursday morning, 1st August, the local news said that Whaley Bridge was being evacuated; all excitement and apprehension. Toddbrook reservoir supplies the Peak Forest canal and is the top feeder for the Cheshire Ring. If it flooded, it would take out the Whaley Bridge shops, the railway station, the school, houses, the basin and any boats in Whaley Bridge, plus Tesco, the new B&M near to the aqueduct on Bugsworth Arm and the one at Furness Vale. Although the police advised boaters to leave their boats, we studied all the projections and, while there might have been a slight surge, the river and floodplain would have taken the full impact. Videos on local Facebook groups showed the river at 14-15 feet above its normal level on the Wednesday and there had already been evacuations due to the river flooding. But on Thursday this had dropped seven or eight feet as the Environment Agency managed levels further upstream and downstream. All traffic was stopped going through New Mills, the A6 was closed and there were no Buxton trains; it was quiet.

We were cut off until Wednesday 7th August, six days later, when the dam was deemed safe and residents were allowed back and the roads reopened. It was a bit surreal hearing all the traffic again and surprising to see how life returned to normal. Whaley Bridge has reported a surge in visitors and we can attest to an increase in boating traffic and speed – “SLOW DOWN” and “get rid of the motorway in your head” are often heard emanating from our boat.

I want to congratulate the Customer Service team at CRT. They worked their socks off, emailing updates to boaters in the area, plus boaters sighted in the area within the previous fortnight, and generally keeping everyone up to date.

As far as the reservoir is concerned, the dam came close to breaking, but it didn’t and the investigation will tell us what happened. Anything else is pure speculation. But I will say that to factor in two months’ rain in 48 hours into an already full reservoir is possibly something that needs to be thought about when doing the inspections and forecasts, as these events may become more frequent.

And so our little towns were on the world stage for a brief time, but now back to earth. CRT’s AGM is on 19th September, a Thursday, so I need to change my dialysis day (last year, I did dialysis and then travelled down and was completely shattered, so I’ve learned my lesson). I hope that if any of you get to Birmingham on the 19th, you will say hello. You will see the NABO submission to the red diesel consultation; this may or may not be an academic exercise as I refuse to use the ‘B’ word.

The nomination forms for NABO Council are in the magazine this month in time for our own AGM in November. I so hope that you will consider being a council member. There are six meetings a year, three by teleconference and three ‘in person’ meetings. We need more people on the council to get a greater breadth and depth of boating experience across the system. There are also meetings with the Trust that you can attend if you wish, but it is not an onerous task; it is good to share experience and knowledge.