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“11 Fascinating Facts About Small Bodies of Water in Britain”


Due to a mix of continuous precipitation and inadequate drainage systems – or, alternatively, the effects of climate change and the state of disrepair in Britain – there is an abundance of puddles. They can be found at every turn during your commute, at any entrance on a rural hike, and whenever you attempt to navigate a neglected tunnel. However, what do we truly understand about puddles? Below are 11 answers to inquiries that may not have crossed your mind, beginning with the most fundamental.

What exactly is a puddle?

It can be difficult for even experts to come up with a clear definition for a small body of water, even though we can recognize one when we see it. According to Prof Jeremy Biggs, CEO of the Freshwater Habitats Trust, a puddle is essentially shallow enough for splashing and is typically filled by rain rather than a pipe or inlet. It also tends to dry up relatively quickly, within a matter of hours, days, or weeks.

Even though puddles may not last for a long time, they do continue to exist for many years. According to Biggs, we may view them as fleeting and transitory, but they tend to appear in the same location due to the presence of depressions.

At what point does a puddle transform into a pond or a lake?

A child in yellow wellington boots jump in a puddle

Biggs, the author of the book “Ponds, Pools and Puddles,” is considered an expert on this topic and can provide an answer to this question. While there are no strict distinctions, he explains that due to frequent inquiries, the trust has established some guidelines based on size. In the UK, bodies of water up to 2 hectares (approximately 5 acres) are generally referred to as ponds, but a body of water that measures 2.1 hectares is essentially no different from one that measures 1.9 hectares. On the other end of the spectrum, anything smaller than 1 square metre is categorized as a puddle.

There is a difference between puddles and temporary ponds. For a pond to be classified as temporary, it must remain wet for at least four months out of the year (although we have all likely seen puddles that last that long).

At what point does a puddle become an issue?

When an object is on the road, it can cause issues when it becomes too deep to drive through. Modern cars have waterproof door seals, but this can also make them float. Some cars can float in shallow water of only 15cm, while most can float in water up to 60cm deep. The maximum depth your car can handle will vary based on its clearance, but it is generally recommended not to drive through water deeper than 10cm, especially if it is moving quickly.

Is it against the law to drive through a large amount of water on the road?

A car driving in a puddle

Occasionally, drivers may be penalized if they intentionally or unintentionally splash a pedestrian while driving through a puddle. Simon Williams, the RAC’s PR manager, states that this could result in points being added to their license and a monetary fine.

According to section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, causing pedestrians to be splashed may be considered as driving recklessly without taking others into consideration. Williams states that as of 2013, irresponsible driving can result in a fixed-penalty notice with a fine of £100 and three penalty points. If a driver declines to pay the fixed-penalty notice, they may be brought to court where a magistrate has the authority to impose a fine of up to £5,000, although this is not likely to happen.

What is the recommended course of action if I encounter a puddle while driving?

Exit your vehicle and measure the distance to the bottom of the body of water. Inspect for any objects or barriers that may be present in the water. Stay in the middle of the road, as it is typically the highest point. The RAC’s website recommends keeping your vehicle in a low gear (usually second gear is sufficient) and increasing the engine speed. This will assist in maintaining forward movement when driving through the water, creating a wave that prevents your vehicle from getting stuck. It is also recommended to test your brakes on the opposite side of the water, as their functionality may be temporarily impacted.

Can a pothole filled with water be considered a puddle?

It is likely that it originated as a small pool of water. When stagnant water seeps into the cracks of the pavement, it erodes the soil below. As vehicles pass over this vulnerable area, it will form a depression. Without any intervention, this depression will continue to grow.

The primary issue with a pothole filled with rainwater is the uncertainty of its depth. A puddle can mask the presence of a pothole, putting your vehicle at risk of significant harm.

Is it possible for any living organisms to survive in a small body of water on the ground?

Lesser water plantain

Although they are temporary, puddles are vital ecosystems that support a variety of unique and rare water plants. According to Biggs, there are several protected and endangered species that rely on the specific habitat of puddles, such as pillwort, tassel stonewort, three-lobed crowfoot, and lesser water plantain.

Is it possible for animals to live in puddles?

A smooth newt in a puddle

According to Biggs, when a puddle reaches a depth of approximately 6 inches (15 cm) and remains at that level for a few months, it becomes home to a variety of freshwater organisms, with the exception of large fish. These may include beetles, water snails, newts, and even tadpoles.

Which puddle is most well-known in Britain?

Drummond puddle in Newcastle

The fame they garner is usually short-lived, much like the puddles themselves. For instance, do you recall the famed Drummond puddle that captured the nation’s attention for a significant portion of January 6, 2016?

A group of employees from a marketing agency named Drummond Central in Newcastle began livestreaming a large, ordinary puddle located at one end of a pedestrian bridge. The livestream attracted over 500,000 viewers over the course of six hours under the hashtag #DrummondPuddleWatch. As the puddle gained popularity, people started taking selfies with it and some even brought inflatable rafts and surfboards. Someone even tried to sell a bottle of water from the puddle on eBay. The story was picked up by local news and eventually national newspapers.

The following day, the council unclogged a drain, causing the puddle to vanish and its notoriety to fade away. Even Periscope, the platform that popularized the puddle, was shut down in 2021.

Which puddle is the largest in Britain?

It is challenging to quantify; should we consider length, depth, area, or volume? Since there is no official organization to authenticate the designation, it is informally granted by news editors numerous times per year.

Some notable recent contenders include the 100-metre-long puddle of Whaddon Road in Cheltenham, the pothole “lake” of Osgodby in Lincolnshire and the chair bridge puddle of Hammersmith in west London, so called because a row of armchairs (well, four) was lined up to enable commuters to cross the street.

Are there any locations in Britain that bear names related to puddles?

Puddletown in Dorest lived up to its name when the River Piddle burst its banks

However, there are only a few examples of this and they can be deceiving. A town in Dorset, called Puddletown, got its name from the River Piddle that flows through it. It used to be called Piddletown, much to the embarrassment of its inhabitants. Other towns like Tolpuddle, Affpuddle, Turners Puddle, and Briantspuddle were also influenced by the Piddle.

In central London, there is a brief road known as Puddle Dock, located near the Thames in Blackfriars. It serves as a memorial to a previous wharf that gained recognition in the 19th century for being an outlet for sewage – essentially a dock for urine. However, there is nothing of significance to be found there now, aside from a potential puddle.

Source: theguardian.com