Ribble Rising

After a month’s heavy rain across northern England, rivers have risen to record levels. Following 100mm of downpour in one night in Lancashire, the river Ribble (from Gallo-Brythonic Riga Belisama ‘Most Shining’ or ‘Most Mighty Queen’) burst her banks at Ribchester and Whalley, forcing people from their homes.

Yesterday the Ribble ran high between Penwortham and Preston swelling under Penwortham Bridge carrying trees, branches, tyres and other debris out to the sea with an urgent roar.

A playground in Middleforth with an overflowing storm drain was underwater.

Several riverside footpaths were submerged.

The Ribble had flooded the bottom of Miller Park completely, almost covering the fountain and pagoda.

The Pavillion Cafe was cut off like a stranded lake dwelling.


As dusk approached, Victorian lamps illuminated the submerged pathway.



Luckily at the most dangerous point: high tide at around 11pm, the Ribble did not break over the flood walls. Avenham and Miller Parks and the flood plains of Central Park managed the rest and no-one was evacuated.

It would have been a very different story if the Riverworks project, which intended to create a barrage on the Ribble and build on its floodplains had gone ahead. We have Jane Brunning and other ‘Save the Ribble‘ campaigners to thank that we have Central Park instead.

This morning, I walked along the old railway track to see Central Park’s flooded fields.

The floods had receded from Avenham and Miller Park and the Ribble sunk back to her normal course.


Last night Belisama heard our apologies, songs and prayers. Today she received gratitude and thanks. This was the highest I have ever seen the Ribble rise. It was really quite terrifying and gave me a fuller understanding of why, before flood-walls, our ancestors revered and feared her as a Mighty Queen.

With temperatures increasing ten times faster than in known history and water levels rising globally I fear this will not be the last time the Ribble bursts her banks. It is a clear message everything possible must be done to slow climate change and adjustments must be made to accomodate rising rivers and returning wetlands.

Having Central Park saved us here. My thoughts are with those not so lucky in Ribchester, Whalley and in York from where 2,200 people have been evacuated.

6 thoughts on “Ribble Rising

  1. charlottehussey says:

    Oh my dear…..am glad you are safe and dry……Yes, climate change is upon us and the water dragons are out for revenge, due to humanities utter disrespect of nature. In Montreal we had an unheard of Christmas time temperature hike to around 17 C! Finally last night we got a bit of wet snow, barely an inch. Be well!!

  2. crychydd says:

    I was thinking of you when I heard the Ribble was flooding. Glad you are OK. Thoughts for those not so fortunate and respect for the waters of the world which will respond to what we do to the Earth. The rising of Mererid’s well is a lesson that has not been learnt – pride indeed.

  3. Brian Taylor says:

    Well the flooding has been dramatic across much of Lancashire, and Yorkshire too, of course. Our little town was cut off for a while. 2,000 homes and 200 businesses affected along the valley, apparently. I watched the ashen look on the faces of people who came to a small footbridge to see the raging torrent. At one point there was a huge standing wave in the middle of the normally quite small river Calder. Scenese elswhere were quite apocalyptic. A twenty foot sink hole appearing in the Motorway near Manchester. A seventeenth century pub dropping into a river at ratcliffe. Even Rochdale town centre under water. I’ve not known that happen before. Now the clear up. Lots of community spirit thankfully. And unlike elswhere in the world, no loss of life. We’re o.k. and I’m glad to hear you are.

    • lornasmithers says:

      Hi Brian,

      It’s good to hear you’re ok. I thought of you when I saw Mytholmroyd under water. I didn’t see Todmorden so assumed you hadn’t been affected. 2,000 homes and 200 businesses sounds like you were pretty badly hit 😦 I later found out 40 houses on more minor rivers in South Ribble alone had been affected although I don’t think anyone had to leave home. I hope the clear-up in Todmorden is going ok.

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