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Bulby’s Wood Erosion

Bulby’s Wood erosion: riverbanks

I’d reflected recently on the inexorable changes that occur around us and how environmental changes are perhaps more obvious in the countryside: the falling of trees, riverbank erosion and our attempts to halt the effects of erosion.

Well, a walk along pretty much any stretch of the River Breamish will reveal the eroding effects of the river’s flow. Bulby’s Wood is a popular visitor attraction: one that people return to year after year. And, for those who do, they surely can’t help but have noticed the changes to the shape of the riverbank over the years.

I first started taking photographs at Bulby’s Wood in 2011. However, I don’t have any of the riverbank from that period. The first image that shows something of how the riverbank looked a few years ago was taken in 2014:

Bulby's Wood riverbank September 2014
Bulby’s Wood riverbank: September 2014

You can see from the above image that even in 2014 there were obvious signs of the river having eroded the bank, as there were obvious grassy ‘islands’ separated from the main bank, sitting in the course of the riverbed. Clearly, the river had eroded the softer bank material (to the right), leaving the presumably slightly sturdier ‘island’ to the left.

Then, as one would expect, further erosion took place over the following years – ‘thinning’ the islands – but still leaving a reasonably substantial row of grassy knolls separated from the main bank:

Bulby's Wood riverbank March 2016
Bulby’s Wood erosion: March 2016

And again, from a different angle this time (and with 3-year-old Amé Melise to provide some scale):

Child and adult playing at Bulby's Wood riverbank Marc h 2016
Row of ‘islands’ separated from main bank: March 2016

Now jump nearly three-and-a-half years ahead to August 2016 and boy have those islands thinned out!

Bulby's Wood riverbank August 2019
Where did those islands go? (August 2019)

And about 15 months later – on 26 November 2020 – there’s even more change:

Bulby's Wood riverbank November 2020
Bulby’s Wood erosion as at 26 November 2020

This time, though, the islands themselves don’t appear to have eroded too much in the intervening time. What is apparent in the above image, compared to the one immediately before, is the additional erosion of the main bank itself – the river water continuing to sweep around what is left of the islands and progressively erode the bank on the right.

It’s fascinating to see the changes. For some, it’s a disappointment that the landscape as we knew it is no longer the same. However, I think it’s also possible to embrace the changes as a part of the necessary processes of nature: things change but it’s just different, not necessarily bad. And I’m sure that Bulby’s Wood will continue as a tourist attraction for many years to come.

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