Landslide caves in Pencombe road

Hereford Times: 1415_6001 Landslide affects Shortwood Family Farm at Pencombe as access road is closed & a new driveway has had to be laid.
Janet Legge next to the affected road (5240988) 1415_6001 Landslide affects Shortwood Family Farm at Pencombe as access road is closed & a new driveway has had to be laid. Janet Legge next to the affected road (5240988)

A LANDSLIDE that caused two acres of farmland to slip away has caved in a stretch of road near Pencombe.

Several metres of concrete drive sunk away, closing the road until May and leaving a dramatic hole on the approach to popular tourist spot Shortwood Farm, just off the A417.

The landslide is believed to have been caused by the excessive rainfall throughout January and February, with the sheer quantity of water seeping down to the rock underneath.

Whole oak trees have been moved as a result, and remain standing, while nearby farmland downhill from the drive has been raised into a several mounds.

Shortwood Farm’s Janet Legge said: “When I say a massive landslide, I mean massive.

“About two acres of our drive just sunk away and the road leading up to us is totally unusable; there is a huge crack with a two foot drop – not the sort of thing you see every day.”

Cracks first began appearing in the road around February 7, and over the following three weeks the tarmac raised and, last week, opened up.

An organic dairy farm – which supplies milk for Yeo Valley yoghurt – the Legges had to use earth movers to dig out a new drive the following morning to ensure their milk delivery could be completed as planned.

However with the Easter holidays approaching, Mrs Legge insisted it was now business as usual at Shortwood Farm – also a popular tourist destination for families – after the council put in place a diversion just a mile further along the road towards Leominster.

This is not the first time that the farm, which sits 600 feet above sea level, has been hit by a landslide; in 1947 thawing snow caused five acres to slip, shaking nearby farmhouses.

In 2001 there was a minor slip, but this is the biggest landslide in the area since 1947.

The British Geological Survey indicates that, with winter rainfall increasing, these incidents are becoming more frequent.

And the Legge family has been told by council surveyors there is nothing that can be done – the problem is not structural, but a result of the volume of rainfall and the rock base the steep hill stands on.

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