THE Misbourne River broke a three-year dry spell last week as water began to flow again through the upper reaches of Great Missenden.

The river runs from Missenden to Denham and feeds into the Colne. It has been dry since 2003. Drought and the excessive removal of water from water company boreholes had caused the Misbourne to almost disappear along its upper stretch.

Neil Ainslie, 64, secretary for the Beechcroft retirement development, is a keen photographer and has kept careful track of the water levels while out walking his dog, Ski.

He noticed the flowing water on Valentine's Day last week.

He said: "The Misbourne can disappear for 12 to 15 years, and now it's flowing back down towards the Chalfonts. There's some water in the lake at Abbeyfields, by Chiltern Hospital, and the river is starting to run right by there. It might run and flow for two or three months and then it will stop, but it makes for quite a talking point in the area.

"You'd be amazed how interested people are. The lake's only risen in the last ten days, and there's still plenty of room for the water to get higher. I've actually seen newts in there, already.

"I've lived in the area for ten years and this is only the third time I've even seen the river."

Heavy rainfall in November 2000 saw the Misbourne burst its banks and cause flooding in Old Amersham.

The Environment Agency explained that parts of the Misbourne regularly run dry naturally, for several seasons or even years.

The river is a chalk stream with a porous bed; it needs a high water table to flow so that the water does not gradually drain away before having a chance to flow downstream.

The source of the Misbourne is widely thought to be a pond near Great Missenden.