Shaping the Valley

The Landscape of the Washburn Valley

Serious landslips have occurred at Fewston and beside the A59 trunk road on the south side of  Hall Gill, Blubberhouses, there being some common factors. In both cases, the sites are on naturally unstable ground on steeply sloping valley sides and the loading on the ground increased over the years.


In Fewston's case, the houses that collapsed in the 19th century were at the western side of the village on rising ground above the Washburn. They were generally substantial stone structures when any predecessors are likely to have been smaller and lighter, probably timber framed.


On the A59 maximum vehicle weight in the 19th century is likely to have been around 4 tonnes but today it is 44 tonnes and with a greatly increased  volume of traffic.Old quarries also appear to have added to the instability of the ground above the road.


In addition, increased rainfall in recent years has added to the instabiliity of the ground near the road and a major part of the recent works in the area has been improved drainage.


Water may also have been a factor at Fewston because the main problems coincided with the creation of Swinsty Reservoir in the valley below the village.

Landslips in the Valley


Recycled stones in a field wall beside Fewston Reservoir

Subsiding homes, Fewston - early 20th century

The A59 in Hall Gill






Fewston Church from the west - around 1900

Fewston Church from the east

Fewston Church from the west - 2016

Erosion and Landslip at Hoodstorth

Heavy rains during the winter of 2015- 2016 have resulted in erosion of the right bank of the Washburn and the collapse of a section of the bank. This action appears to have been aggravated by reinforcement long ago of the left bank (which is on the right in the photographs).