In the United Kingdom, the source of the River Thames is dry

LCould London’s famous river soon disappear? If we go further, its “theoretical” source – that – has almost disappeared. From now on, the grass path leads through the small valley where the river exits. At present, however, there is not the slightest trace of moisture. For miles downstream, the course of this iconic UK river is some muddy puddles at best, a nod to the drought gripping much of the country.

“We haven’t invented the Thames yet,” says Michael Saunders, a 62-year-old computer scientist. its estuary. “It’s completely dry. There are puddles, mud, but the water hasn’t flowed yet. We hope to find the lower reaches of the Thames, but so far it’s gone,” says the holidaymaker, met by Agence France-Presse in the village of Ashton Keynes, a few kilometers away. Source. From Wales. It is in this picturesque area at the foothills of the not-so-distant Cotswolds that the river rises out of the watershed, meandering some 350 kilometers towards the North Sea, passing the British capital.

But for those who usually liken the English countryside to a golf course, this summer’s shock comes after a winter and spring with rainfall almost unprecedented since records became available. “It’s like we’re walking on the African savannah, it’s so dry,” exclaims David Gibbons, 60, who, with his wife and two friends, is walking in stages along Michael’s reverse path. Saunders, From Mouth to Source.

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A few hundred meters from the destination, from a strategic and industrial traffic artery in the London area, between enjoying the river and observing the avifauna, one marvels at the wildlife encountered en route on the waterway, which has been converted upstream into a tourist attraction. . “But for the last two or three days, we haven’t seen any animals because of the lack of water. She disappeared about 10 miles (about 16 km, editor’s note) from here,” says David Gibbons. “It’s so dry and empty we’ve never seen it,” Ashton said. It is reached by narrow country roads lined with hewn stone houses, says Andrew Jack, a 47-year-old land official who lives 15 miles from Cairns.

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Between the main street of the village and the beautiful flower-lined buildings, the river bed is strewn with small footpaths, filled with cracks where wasps fly, recalling images of African deserts in the dry season. There’s no immediate respite in sight: the National Weather Service has issued an orange heat warning for southern England and eastern Wales between Thursday and Sunday, Tuesday August 9, with temperatures expected to range from 35 to 36°C.

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Local authorities are stepping up calls to save water, and the company that supplies London has announced upcoming restrictions on consumption, which will add to those already in place in the south of the country. David Gibbons refuses to panic. “I’ve lived in England all my life and we’ve had droughts before,” he says. I think it will be green again in the fall. »

Andrew Jack, who has come with his family to walk the bed of the stream, has nothing left to graduate alone, and admits to despair. “Most English people think: ‘Great! Let’s enjoy the time”, but it means that something has changed, and for the worse. Personally, I am worried that the situation will worsen. With more summers like this, England will have to adapt to a warmer climate,” he fears.

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