Colton parish, Lake District A job that goes back to medieval times is being restored – and never is it more needed than during leaf-fall

“The Rusland valley has been so flooded this November,” says Archie Workman, “that stretches of road have been like a bath 5ft deep. I’ve had to knock dry stone walls down to let the water escape.”

Locating the blocked culvert that caused the flooding, he finds the grating rusted to its frame. He uses a hacksaw blade, then a cold chisel, to ease them apart. Then, to the puzzlement of passing drivers, he lies prostrate on an old settee cushion and reaches into the drain.

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