Back in the Saddle!
Just back in Newcastle after a wonderful break in Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales – walking, cycling and lazing about in the sun (honest!) reading and drinking coffee. And the local beer. I got a chance to catch up on a few back issues of ENDS, finished EF Schumacher’s classic Small is Beautiful and started on the works of the deep ecology founder Arne Naess – both of which will turn up on Green Gurus soon.
One of our walks was around the dramatic limestone pavements and cliffs of Malham Cove (see pic) and brought an important issue home to me. First we walked to the still waters of Malham Tarn then along a stream leading from it until the water simply disappeared into unseen subterranean tunnels. We then followed the dry stream bed down to the top of the cliffs where the stream obviously once spilled over the top in a spectacular waterfall. When you climb down, a river appears from the base of the cliffs. Given that we’d been following the route of the original stream, you would think that this was it simply re-emerging from its underground course, but it isn’t! Somewhere in the unexplored depths of the limestone, that stream of water crosses another without ever joining forces. The complexity of such hydrogeological systems is one reason why groundwater is the most protected natural resource. Pollution and the impacts of over-extraction are extremely difficult to ‘fix’. This in turn is a factor the heavily populated South East of England has a water shortage, whereas the North, which depends on surface water reservoirs and is much less populated isn’t.