River shift sparks valley blackout

A remote valley was left without electricity at the weekend, when a river suddenly changed its course and took out the power lines.

Thursday, 14th January 2016, 10:12 am
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2016, 10:19 am
The bed of the Coquet - minus the river. Picture by Ian Burnie

On Saturday morning, Ian Burnie was amazed to discover the River Coquet was no longer flowing within earshot of his home at Harehaugh Farm, Hepple. Instead, it had moved hundreds of yards to the opposite side of the valley.

And on Sunday, the flooded river had shifted its course another 50 yards and taken out a string of power lines.

The downed power lines at Hepple. Picture by Ian Burnie

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Ian said: “When you’ve lived next to the river for 25 years you get used to the noise. On Saturday morning, it was so quiet. I looked out and the river had gone.

“The very recent floods have moved the river bed to the opposite side of the valley towards Hepple village, possibly along its very original flow line. We now have an eerie dried-up river bed and obsolete No Fishing signs.

“The river is normally up to about 100 yards of one of my fields, now it’s about 500 yards away.

“It’s flood plain here and the river always meanders but I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s taken a big chunk out of one of my neighbour’s fields.

The downed power lines at Hepple. Picture by Ian Burnie

“It will be interesting to see what happens here, as this whole area is an area of Special Scientific Interest and in theory you cannot do anything to interfere with the flow of the river or any of the adjacent land.”