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Mystery of the disappearing boating lake

PUBLISHED: 17:24 03 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:50 16 September 2010

AN expert has been called in to solve the mystery of Southwold's disappearing boating lake.

For years the lake has been a popular family attraction where visitors can take rowing boats and kayaks out on the water, but this summer it has again had to remain closed after drying up.

AN expert has been called in to solve the mystery of Southwold's disappearing boating lake.

For years the lake has been a popular family attraction where visitors can take rowing boats and kayaks out on the water, but this summer it has again had to remain closed after drying up.

Pam Jackson, who leases the site from Waveney District Council and runs the Boating Lake Café, said it was the second consecutive year the falling water level led to the lake staying shut.

The lake, a salt-water lagoon which has been there for many decades, and should be up to 4.5ft deep.

But Mrs Jackson said: “Nobody seems to know what it's caused by.”

Determined to establish the cause and a solution to the problem, she did a Google search and found references to Dr Richard Barnes, a coastal marine ecologist from Cambridge University.

Mrs Jackson e-mailed Dr Barnes without expectation but in hope.

She later received a response from him saying he had a report from visiting the site in 1986, and hoped to be able to help.

Over the last two years a number of organistions, including Natural England, the Environment Agency and Essex and Suffolk Water, have been keen to help, but the root cause remains elusive.

At the moment just a couple of inches fill the bottom from recent downpours, but during the early summer months the lagoon was bone dry.

Mrs Jackson said there were various theories, including the closure of a nearby sluice gate.

“There are so many different things people are saying it could be,” she said.

“We don't know if it's connected to the work that took place on the sea defences in Southwold in 2005-06.”

She said it was a shame for unsuspecting visitors who turned up at the facility, which has been one of the town's favourite seaside attractions for decades.

“It's quite a tradition for a lot of families,” she said. “They all come to take a picnic and go out on the boats, but they have not been able to do that.

“We have to explain to people daily.”

The closure is also affecting trade at the cafe, but Mrs Jackson said it remained open for business between Easter and September, and is also a venue for community events, adding that the model boat pond and the paddle boat pond were also still open for younger children to enjoy.

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