Record breaking spate

Anyone trying to travel across Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire or Kinross-shire last Friday (21st February) will know what a nightmare it was. It took me 2.25 hours to get from Eurocentral to Stirling with the M80 flooded around Denny and the M876 closed , a journey that would normally take 25 minutes and resulting in me missing a meeting. The volume of water flowing in rivers, burns and pouring off fields was absolutely incredible.

I took a detour and parked my car on Naemoor Road just above the gorge at Rumbling Bridge to witness the Devon thundering downstream

Devon in full spate and crashing into the wall holding up Naemoor Road, Rumbling Bridge 21/02/20

Those familiar with the old footbridge that was swept in the 2011 spates will get some idea of how much water was flowing when you note the position of the old abutment position on the opposite bank here:

Devon entering the Rumbling Bridge gorge (note the old bridge abutment on RHS on opposite bank) 21/02/20

Before the reservoirs were built in Glendevon this must have been a more regular event. Anglers who have fished the opposite bank upstream, may well have encountered the potential ankle braking gullies buried in the vegetation where floods have gauged channels in the bedrock.

In the upper reaches the spate peaked during the late evening with the Castlehill SEPA gauge recording 2.076m at 23.00 just 1.6cm short of the record set in similar circumstances in January 2011 (heavy rain and snow melt resulting in the record of 2.092m ay 06.30 on 16/01/11).

As is usual the peak took longer to reach downstream with finally the Glenochil SEPA gauge breaking the previous 2011 record at 12.30 on Saturday 22/02/20. The result was the inevitable overtopping, extensive flooding closing all the roads across the river between Vicars Bridge and Menstrie and considerable damage. It will take time to assess the full impact of these spate events but there have been significant changes in the river.

Following the spate the upper river ran unusually dirty, in part from bank erosion above Castlefhill Reservoir but mostly from a series of significant landslides along the Glendey Burn (by the Muckhart to Dunning road just after Dunning Glen)

Landslip into Glendey Burn 22/02/20

There is little that can be done here,  this is an entirely natural phenomenon as the valley here is geologically a very young valley and the burn is busy eroding the valley sides until one day, in centuries to come, there will be a stable V-shaped valley. The positive impact is that it will encourage fresh sand and gravel to be moved downstream.

Only two weeks to go before the 2020 season opens ……… and hopefully plenty of fishing records can be broken too!



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