News blog, views and general holiday tips...

Subscribe to News Feed
Blog Home Page Next Story 19th February 2014

River Test flooding at Stockbridge

The River Test bankfull at Stockbridge

The incredible amount of rain we have had since November 2013 has meant that for the first time in years, there is a serious risk of the River Test flooding at Stockbridge. While the terrible weather up to Christmas did not immediately affect the Test, unlike the nearby river Blackwater at Wellow, the longer term flood risk is actually more significant. This is because the Test rises from chalk hills up in north hampshire and this means that because rainwater soaks into chalk rather than running off, heavy rainfall does not immediately affect river levels.

However, the wonderful property of the chalk, in soaking up and filtering the water that in turn produces our beautifully clear and sweet river water, also means that there is a delayed reaction to any rainfall, as initially the rain refills the aquifers containing the natural groundwater within the chalk rock. The months of incessant heavy rain & storms that we have had since November has now made the groundwater rise to record levels, and this has resulted in gradual flooding of the valley floor, which, with the delayed delivery of rainwater through the chalk and into the streams & rivers, means that even when it stops raining, levels will continue to rise for some time to come.

The break in the weather last Sunday allowed us to take a leisurely bicycle ride from Firs Lodge up to The Bunny at Leckford, where the road now has a river 6″ deep continuously running over it, and on the lane back down to Stockbridge on the Leckford side of the valley it was incredible to see how much water was covering the meadows above the village – almost the width of the whole valley. The main road bridge at Stockbridge has a marked water depth post that shows 1.8m water flowing under the road, and, on riding further down the valley to The Boot at Houghton and crossing the valley there on the Clarendon Way, just as at The Bunny, there was 6″ water flowing across the Way. Needless to say the ride back up the Test Way to Stockbridge was very wet with large puddles, although fun for all ages!

The Greyhound on the Test and The White Hart pubs in the village are both having to pump out their cellars every few hours, and there are sandbags at the ready on many doorways down the High Street; fortunately for these residents and businesses as yet these are not needed, unlike those further down the Test on the northern edge of Romsey, where Greatbridge is completely flooded.

The winter of 2014 will live long in the memory of those in Test Valley with these record floods and the loss of many trees in the severe gales we have had, and it is not over yet as the groundwater will continue to percolate out of the chalk for months to come, and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this continuing bad weather in the south of England. See our facebook page for more images.