It rained on Saturday night 23rd July 2022.
Not unusual for a July evening in Argyll. However we experienced a local deluge. According to a weather station just over a mile from the site we had over 100 mm of rain in less than 24 hours.
This intense cloudburst thundered off the mountain, picked up a fallen giant redwood from a gulley in the forest garden (there is a picture of the gully in the forest garden article) and swept it into Crarae Burn, it passed under the uppermost bridge, sideswiping the planting on the west bank and embedding the very tip into the top of the rocks of the cliff that forms the waterfall at Waterfall bridge. The build up of water behind the tree eventually swept it to rest on the side of the bank and the deluge of water and debris continued down the burn. Boulders have been moved, entire flat sections of the bank have disappeared. The riverbed has been completely remodelled.
The bank and path has also been washed away from next to the bamboo tunnel in the lower garden. The debris (trees, branches and boulders) that was swept downstream backed up against the lowest brige and created a dam. The water level rose by at least 5 feet, flooding into the lower garden, running through the bamboo tunnel and also across the lower gardens of Crarae Lodge. All of the gravel and path materials were washed away from the lower garden path. The tide line extended about 5 meters inland in parts covering the lawns with sand, gravel and stones.
The visitor centre manager Dilla was first on scene on Sunday morning, the visitor centre had also flooded from a local drainage ditch, so luckily she ventured into the garden to see what else had happened. She spotted a river running along the lower garden path and all the silt and rocks deposited on the lawns, she ventured through the bamboo tunnel to find the first path wash out. And closed the garden immediately!
Monday morning was an eye opener for the four young gardeners on site, who discovered the full extent of the damage. The gallery below shows some of the photos from that day. You'll understand why the team had to close the garden for a short time. Its a miracle that they opened again with so much accomplished after just 4 days. Congratulations Derek, Joe, Lynn and Kirsten.
But fear not - this is an opportunity. The two short sections of the west gorge path that were destroyed are not crucial for the myriad linking paths and all the waymarked walks that are remaining. The team had reinstated the most accessible lower garden paths in just 3 days.
You can still explore and access all of the best viewpoints and areas of interest in the gardens. Criss-crossing the burn as you venture up the gorge opens up new vistas. The team have been busy making sure there are plenty of places to stop and sit, so exploring more of the garden slowly and taking the time to rest in the beautiful surroundings is a joy.
The Trust has already begun planning for the trails of the future, these are exciting times!