QUITE rightly, most of the post-flood attention in Swaledale has been concentrated on restoring lives and livelihoods and getting the dale back on its feet and open for business.

To aid this process, the county council has replaced the stone Victorian bridge over Cogden Gill, on Grinton Moor, with a temporary structure.

The bridge is in a historic area, and not just because it was on the Côte de Grinton over which the 2014 Tour de France rode.

A short stroll up the steep gill from the bridge is/was the remains of the Grinton Smelt Mill, which pre-flood was considered to be the best preserved of the 87 known lead mill sites in the Yorkshire Dales.

It dates from 1820, and featured a flue running 290 metres up the side of the dale, to take away the noxious fumes and to allow any last vestiges of precious metals to condense out on the flue walls so that small boys could crawl in and scrape them off.

Mason Scarr, of Bainbridge, has been up the gill to investigate what happened during the flood that devastated so much of Swaledale.

“The mill is still standing but extensive damage has occurred around the site and in the mining area to the south,” he reports. “A large amount of debris has been deposited outside the mill. It has been estimated the water would be two feet deep inside the mill, flowing through the ‘front door’ to the south and then exiting through the two doors on the west side and the one on the north side.

“Some turf and soil outside the ‘front’ of the mill has been washed away and exposed a small area of cobbles, which makes people wonder if once it was all cobbled.

“The other major damage is to the arched culvert which used to run down the length of the west side of the mill – it’s not there anymore. The flood has washed the whole thing away leaving a channel six to eight feet deep and some 12ft to 15ft wide. Two 10ft lengths of concrete-covered arching, the result of a previous repair, have just been thrown to one side.

“In the bottom of the channel the flood has exposed a large three or four inch diameter water pipe, which is now broken. Whose water did it once supply?”