The wrecked felltop assessors' office and information centre at Glenridding. Photo: Graham Uney

The wrecked felltop assessors' office and information centre at Glenridding. Photo: Graham Uney

The Lake District’s two felltop assessors have vowed their work will carry on despite their base being ‘ripped apart’ by flood water.

The beck in Glenridding became choked by boulders during the Storm Desmond deluge, diverting the watercourse directly through the assessors’ office and neighbouring tourist information office.

Access to the village is also difficult after storms washed away Pooley Bridge and damaged the main road through Glenridding and Patterdale. In common with many towns and villages in Cumbria, homes and businesses have been inundated and left filled with debris and sludge as waters recede.

One of the felltop assessors who make the daily journey to the summit of Helvellyn, Graham Uney, said the service providing real-life reports on weather, ground conditions, temperature and snow hazards, will continue, though the pair may need to change their normal routine because of the difficulty of accessing Helvellyn.

Both the main A591 Keswick to Dunmail Raise road and the A592 between Penrith and Glenridding are impassable because of damage to road surfaces and the washing away of Pooley Bridge by flood water.

Graham Uney said: “The good news is that after the floods in Cumbria a few people have finally been able to get into Glenridding and Patterdale villages today.

“The bad news is the place is well and truly ripped apart by the power of the water. The felltop assessor office that we use, along with the TIC, became the main river bed as the true course of the river became choked with boulders, and the river diverted through the building itself.

“Obviously Jon [Bennett] and I will continue to provide our daily felltop assessor reports, but given the access difficulties these reports may not always be from Helvellyn. Please bear with us.

“Once the snow arrives and I start running winter-skills courses for the national park authority we will use a different morning meeting place, rather than the TIC, so don’t worry about that.

“All will be put right in Cumbria, and though it might take some time, the people of Cumbria will bounce back. Once we’re back on our feet, the best thing you can do to help is visit Cumbria, spend money here as that will help small, local businesses get back up and running again.”

Many of the volunteer mountain rescue teams in Cumbria and from farther afield who took part in the rescue of residents throughout the area are recovering from a hectic weekend that saw many of their members working long hours throughout the night to help evacuate and ensure the safety of people in Cumbrian and Scottish Borders towns and villages.

One of the teams, Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, based in Grassington, North Yorkshire, put together a video of its members wading through the floods, giving a flavour of the devastation residents faced.

Cumbria Constabulary confirmed the body of a man had been found near Staveley, between Kendal and Windermere. A spokesperson said: “Police can confirm that the body of a male has been recovered from a tributary running into the River Kent, in the Staveley area.

“Officers from Cumbria Constabulary and the underwater search team recovered the body.

“Police were called at 10.01am on 6 December 6 to reports than an elderly man had fallen in the water.

“Formal identification has not yet taken place.”

The crew of a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet in Ayrshire battled for eight hours against storm-force winds and torrential rain to carry out multiple operations across severely flooded parts of Cumbria.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “With Storm Desmond unleashing chaos across northern England and parts of southern Scotland, the helicopter crew took to the skies on Saturday evening and headed to Cockermouth at the request of Belfast Coastguard.

“The team of highly trained airmen provided a detailed overview of Cockermouth, large parts of which were already under several feet of water. The crew then searched buildings and vehicles in the area – many of them abandoned – and ensured that remaining occupants were safe and well.

“Next up for the team was the rescue of an elderly woman from her home close to the banks of a river. The crew evacuated the distressed lady from her house and winched her to safety from her back garden.

“Another task saw HMS Gannet search and rescue oversee the possible evacuation of two elderly residents from a Cockermouth home that was surrounded by rising floodwater. On arrival an assessment of the situation was made and it was decided that the residents would be safer in the building while emergency services continually monitored the situation.”

Reports from police in Carlisle said several people were trapped in floodwater, with some reportedly clinging to lampposts. The HMS Gannet helicopter headed to the scene and searched the area, working with local rescue teams to evacuate casualties in the area.

The spokesperson added: “After an eventful evening and morning the crew returned to their base at HMS Gannet in Prestwick at around 7am having spent around 10 hours in the rescue areas and almost eight hours on flying operations.”

Two civilian Coastguard search and rescue helicopters also flew to the area to help in operations. A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said: “The Coastguard rescue helicopters based at Caernarfon and Humberside continued to operate in the Lake District area during Sunday and winched a disabled gentleman from a flooded residence on the outskirts of Carlisle as well as attending an incident in Kendal where a member of the public was trapped under a bridge.

“Coastguard rescue teams and vehicles were sent to multiple locations in the Carlisle area. Coastguard rescue teams from Portling, Kirkudbright, Whitehaven, Maryport as well as other Coastguard officers have been on scene at various locations helping to get people evacuated as well as transportation to reception centres, to safe environments and into the care of local health services.”

A severe flood warning remains in place for an area of Lancashire for Wednesday. The Environment Agency confirmed the warning, meaning life is at risk for St Michaels on Wyre, north-east of Blackpool. A spokesperson said: “Further rain is expected through the evening and overnight on Wednesday 9 December.

“This will cause river levels to rise again slightly before peaking at around 8am on Thursday morning. The rise in levels is not currently anticipated to have a significant effect on the current flooding situation in St Michaels; however Environment Agency staff are monitoring this closely and will provide updates should anything change.

“Environment Agency staff are on site in St Michaels, working in coordination with the emergency services as well as borough and county councils.”

There are also 20 amber flood warnings in place, including three in Cumbria, where Keswick campsite is again at risk. Other affected areas include east Yorkshire, north-east Wales and Cheshire.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Felltop assessor reports extended as winter returns to Lake District
  2. Helvellyn felltop assessments extended as winter conditions continue
  3. Storm Desmond: mountain rescue team spends 45 hours helping flooded Border towns
  4. Duddon and Furness rescuers raise more than £2,000 for Storm Desmond flood victims
  5. Dales bridge wrecked by Storm Desmond re-opens despite torrent hitting rebuilding