“Chaos and devastation” from Storm Babet floods hits popular historic visitor attractions across Derbyshire and Peak District
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The persistent rain caused flooding across much of the county, impacting some of Derbyshire’s most popular visitor attractions.
At Hardwick Hall, the team reacted quickly to move the 300-strong book collection in the Long Gallery due to the rain leaking through the east side windows – with the collections sitting directly underneath. There was no damage to the books.
The collection includes books from the library of pioneering scientist Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), who calculated the density of the earth, and Hardwick’s oldest volume, a 1549 book illustrated with woodcuts of early ships by a French diplomat and poet.
At Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, home to an 18th-century Pleasure Ground and an 800-acre wildlife-rich parkland, the storm caused structural damage to a wooden footbridge on the lakeside walk and washed away bench seats.
In the Peak District, a deluge of water rushed down the hillsides and overpowered river networks. Flooding led to the erosion of hundreds of metres of footpaths and caused damage to fences, walls and bridges.
Since Friday, the team at Longshaw has undertaken 82 hours of work, completing just half of the tasks needed to repair the damage that has been identified so far – and there is still more to do. As well as repairs, the team is exploring ways to build more resilient infrastructure to cope with future weather conditions.
Craig Best, General Manager in the Peak District, said: “I was among many people in the Peak District and surrounding towns and villages who had a very frightening drive home on Friday. The chaos and devastation the storm caused to homes, businesses, roads and transport systems in the area is truly shocking.
“It certainly brings it home how vulnerable we are to extreme weather events like this when you see it unfold. Let’s not forget though, in good condition the uplands of the Peak District can hold the key to reducing the impact of extreme weather conditions like this. They could be our first line of defence.
“If we restore peatlands, plant and allow the natural regeneration of more trees, and improve soil health here, we can help to store and slow the flow of water into our rivers, streams and reservoirs. We’ve started this work, with partners and tenants, but we need to do more and faster. We need to ensure the importance of restoring our uplands, for nature and for people, is recognised, and secure investment to carry out the work needed.”
Andy Jasper, Director of Gardens and Parklands at the National Trust, said: “Our garden teams are doing an amazing job, working hard to repair and reinstate damaged areas and we are so grateful for their efforts in such difficult conditions. Some visitors may not be able to visit parts of their favourite gardens or parkland while we do this work and we thank them for their patience, too.”