Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Mayow Park's lost stream?

Black poplar in middle of lake

After reading Pippa’s blog about the temporary lake  which arrived in Mayow Park in the last week of January and the fun it brought to park users, people asked how it came to be and why in that location?

I’ll try to explain.

Weeks and weeks of heavy rainfall, with occasional drier days; that’s how 2020 ended and 2021 started, continuing right through January. The spongy ground was saturated, unable to absorb more precipitation.  In Mayow Park the paths were muddy, the grass was muddier and some of the drains were mud-hidden, no longer visible or able to do what they were designed to do.

Deep puddles everywhere

Then the snow arrived, just for one day, but heavy snow. Sunday 24th January. For a few short hours people went into the park, played with the snow,  made snow people; dogs, children and adults enjoyed the novelty. But by the end of the day much of the snow had melted and the rain returned.

Water flowed in rivulets along the paths and down slopes, creating deep puddles in places, towards the shallow river valley to the eastern side, where once a rill* flowed. 

Local people may be aware that Mayow Park sits atop very heavy clay which is slow to absorb heavy rain so the water flowed and flowed following downhill routes. It flowed to the lowest level, down into the meadow opposite the cafe and into the scrub area just below Mayow Road. Small lakes have formed here before, lasting a couple of days, but the lake this time was larger than many of the folk round here can remember. It seemed wider and deeper than ever. Dogs had swimming fun. Children came in waterproof boots to have a splashing time.  And Barney brought his paddle board to add to the entertainment – see photo by Pippa in her blog.

The water could not go far.  It slowly soaked away over the next few days. As water receded, the black poplar, which had stood in the middle of the now shrinking lake, gradually moved to drier terrain. The story of the lake was the buzz of local social media. For a few days it brought some joy in these times of social distancing and remote socialising.

With warmer, wetter winters in southern England predicted into the future due to our changing climate, we can expect to see this occasional lake to return when weather conditions are right.

The lake slowly drained away

*NOTE: A rill is a shallow brook or stream. The rill (Adamsrill) no longer visibly flows but it seems likely that,  in bygone times, it travelled via Mayow Park through culverts to Bell Green and the River Pool.  Nowadays after heavy rain, it revives in back gardens along Adamsrill Road - named after Mayow Wynell Adams (1809 – 1898). He was the local dignitary who offered the site that is now Mayow Park. (Street names Mayow Road, Wynell Road and Adamsrill Road honour his name).

For more info on Adams’ Rill, here is a blog written by 'Running Past' in February 2018 that is worth reading. https://runner500.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/adams-rill-a-lost-sydenham-stream/

A.S Friends of Mayow Park

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