Dry river beds in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire revived by heavy rain after a summer of drought

  • Watch Ken Goodwin's report on ITV West Country

Last summer, months of drought caused the Upper Thames to dry up.

The results were stark: there was no life left in the river. Fish gone, crayfish dead, and amphibians like frogs desperate to find a shady moist spot.

But now, the rain has brought new life back to the rivers and brooks around Ashton Keynes.

Paul Blackburn lives next to the Thames and said when it dried up, it looked "apocalyptic", with dead crayfish strewn about the parched bed of stones.

In the summer, Ashton Keynes and the Upper Thames, bone dry.

"It was a horrible, empty, desolate looking river bed with nothing in it. It was very sad. And that lasted for three months. 

"It’s just fantastic to have it back,  we’ve had so much rain it’s lovely and also the pretty green weed has come back more than it was before, it’s looks really beautiful."

Seasonal changes in river levels are of course nothing new. 

But Alasdair Naulls from The Rivers Trust says they are becoming more extreme.

The Upper Thames at Ashton Keynes, replenished with rain water.

"We know that this year the Thames dried up so much further down and that was unprecedented, and yes, this river will be much lower through the summer months. 

"But what we don’t have is that water held in our environment to release water out of the aquifers below our feet into the environment,  to be that 'stony sponge' that is so important for nature and for us."

A few miles away is Ampney Brook. Now it's swollen, and flood water spills out onto the fields. But back in the summer it got so low that fish needed to be rescued from the one tiny remaining pool and released into another river.

Ampney Brook in flood.

David Reinger, the vice president of the cotswold fly fishing club, is delighted that the river is back. But he says the fish will take at least five years for wild trout and other fish to return.

For many the rain has been a nuisance, or worse, has brought flooding. But for the previously dried up rivers in the cotswolds, it has brought life.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.