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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 12 August 2006
Listen to this programme in full
On 16 August 2004 the tiny Cornish village of Boscastle was flooded when the three rivers that feed into its harbour burst their banks. Ancient trees, huge boulders and cars were swept down the valley to the sea and many buildings destroyed (though miraculously, no lives were lost). Two years later, Richard Uridge goes to see how the area has recovered and changed environmentally.

Trixie Webster was in her shop Harbour Light when the storm came - television viewers watched as cars battered the building which eventually collapsed. Today she's moved across the Valency river where she watches her son-in-law Hedley Venning rebuild the old shop - identical right down to the wavy roof.

Ann Knight is a local historian and from a high point above the village she explains to Richard that floods have been recorded since the Normans first settled there. And it looks picturesque now - but the landscape has evidence of a deeply industrial past.

Since the disaster, the Environment Agency has been planning new flood defences for the village. Engineer Andrew Houghton explains why the valley is known as a "flashy catchment" and the schemes planned to try and avert problems in the future.

Artist Kurt Jackson has painted the Valency valley before and after the flood. The area is very special to him and the thought of it being swept away, horrific. But he's found joy and inspiration in the regeneration and says it's a warning to us to treat the natural world better.

Much of the area is owned by the National Trust, and head warden Jeff Cherrington takes Richard on a walk to see the environmental changes in the valley. The river has carved itself a new course and the area is now home to new tree species and habitats. Jeff says their future plans will let nature take its course, as well as managing the landscape to prevent future flood damage.
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