Large parts of the village of Askwith were left devastated by a flash flood which swept through the Wharfe Valley at around tea-time last night.

At least five houses were damaged by the floods, which swept away cars, tore down outbuildings, a garage, walls and gouged out driveways and gardens as well as threatening to demolish an ancient bridge.

Mary Carr, whose house was badly damaged by the flood waters, said: "I have never seen anything like this before."

Mrs Carr has lived in the village for more than 40 years and was used to rising water from the stream which flows past her home. She said she went out to check after the cloudburst and found water around one metre high around her door.

"I have never been so frightened in my life," said Mrs Carr. She added: "It was like a miniature Boscastle, the Cornish village that was badly damaged by a flash flood in 2004."

Anita Walker, who lives in a house on the opposite side of the road, saw her car swept away from behind her house to end up in a tree 50 yards away.

Her son, Ross, had parked his car in a barn behind the house. It was swept away by flood water and landed 100 yards downstream.

The flood gouged out walls and the garden at the back of their home leaving a 20-foot wide hole in place of a small stream. The devastated garden had been due to open to the public as part of an open garden event.

Ross Walker said that the water had been so high at the back of their house that at one point it had been coming through key holes in the door.

Following the floods, villagers, using farm equipment and tractors, volunteered to clean roads and stream beds of debris. They were later joined by officials from North Yorkshire County Council's highways department.

Work to clean up the village is still continuing. No one was hurt in the flood.