For centuries the unpredictable British weather has caused concerns along rivers about potential flooding. Before large towns developed the amount of damage ensuing from floodwaters was serious but seldom overwhelming. Nevertheless riverside communities learned to harness winter flooding by leaving large areas along the riverbanks to flood naturally – the floodplain. This method of flood management was practiced in ancient Egypt and underlined the importance of field re-generation to the rich agriculture of the Nile. In England the ‘water-meadows’ were employed to pasture the cattle and to harvest hay for winter fodder. They were also the sanctuary of many birds and flowers. The accompanying map shows the location of Wye’s main water meadows that are accessible by public footpath.
Today the local farmer has seeded winter wheat but access to the Stour and along some of the riverside is still possible.
Not enough effort is expended in keeping ditches open these days, leading to often un-necessary flooding of roads but the greatest danger is to the extensive house building taking place both here and elsewhere in England on flood-plains.