Festival organisers get that sinking feeling as site turns into sea of mud

It is now an 800-acre sea of mud. Organisers of the Glastonbury Festival yesterday had to truck in 2,000 tons of stone to secure flooded tracks, supply gas heaters for the terminally sodden and get extra pumping trucks working on the lavatories.

The festival's second stage, where bands such as Kula Shaker and the Chemical Brothers are supposed to be playing, was closed down after fears that it was sinking into the mire.

But the weather has its positive side. "I think it has stopped the hedge- jumpers this year," said Michael Eavis, who owns the farm where the festival is being held. "Ticket-holders are coming, but the eco-warrior problem has been solved."

At the last festival two years ago an estimated 20,000 people got in free after environmental activists pulled down a section of the 20ft fence that surrounds the site.

The police, too, were happy with the weather. "We reckon that the rain is worth an awful lot of policemen," said Inspector Keith Jones, of the Avon and Somerset constabulary. "It tends to relax things down. People are too tired from walking in the mud to get up to anything."

The police had received 169 reported crimes by mid-afternoon yesterday, about 100 less than at the same time at the last festival. There had been 49 arrests for drugs, including one unhappy camper who tried to bring in a cannabis plant.

Despite warnings that the 300 police on the site will arrest those they see using drugs, many of the festival's devotees believe it is still a major reason for coming. "I like coming, because I can smoke hash in public," said Phil Simmons, 30, from Scotland. "It is as if we have legalised it for a weekend."

Few people were willing to let the mud get them down. "You could tell it would be chaos before you got here," said Mark Nash, 32, of Exeter, Devon. "So you just made sure you had your wellies and a waterproof. After all, mud is just mother-earth," he said sarcastically.

He added: "The rain makes it interesting. People at first were pissed off, but eventually they get used to it and there is more a feeling of community than on sunny years. It is us against the elements."

"There's no pressure here," said Mel, 28, from London. "You wander about, watch a band, have a beer, have a spliff, do what you like. I enjoy it more when I don't bother trying to see a particular band and the mud becomes comical eventually."

Others were less laid back. Security guards had to be called to manage a mob at a market stall selling Wellington boots. "We sold 500 pairs in 40 minutes," said Alan Jackson, of the traders Joe Bananas. "No one got hurt, but wet, wellie-less people can be scary."

Another 6,000 pairs of Wellingtons were being brought in late yesterday to meet the demand. At the medical centre a steady stream of sprained ankles and cuts were being treated by a harassed team of doctors. Most people had fallen in the mud, but only 12 had needed medical attention overnight, mostly for exposure.

In Glastonbury's welfare centre, in a disused barn, ad hock clothes lines were strung from the rafters covered in muddy clothes while their dishevelled owners huddled in blankets near gas heaters.

"The things that are normally difficult here become a lot worse," said Mary Treacy, who runs the medical centre.

"Things like a bad trip, or getting lost are a lot worse when you've fallen over in the mud. Mind you, it gives a lot of them something to moan about," she added.

Mr Eavis maintained that he was still enjoying himself despite the mud. "But I don't think I'd be so keen if it was like this every year."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Pre-Sales Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a £multi-million award w...

Recruitment Genius: Support Workers - Mother's Help / Buddy Support Role

£8 - £11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A gentleman with congenital achondropla...

Recruitment Genius: Training Officer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Training Officer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent