The many faces of Bury Brook: Ramsey and Bury

Bury Brook is a fascinating river flowing  through the centre of Huntingdonshire  taking in Broughton, Wistow, Bury and Ramsey along the way. Over its course it changes in appearance greatly and even changes name: it is commonly called the High Lode after it has flowed though Ramsey and the Bury Brook before hand.

Last Friday on a fairly wet November day I went for an explore of the river in and around Ramsey –  apart form getting very wet feet (new walking boots called for) I also took lots of photos in order to show the changing face of this river over a relatively short distance. The first two photos I could call ”now you see me, now you don’t”  and were taken on the southern outskirts of Bury near the Rothschild Way – some parts of the river  were very overgrown and I struggled to see any water at all:

BB near BuryBB overgrown nr Bury

The river then heads towards Ramsey and passes through the golf course to the south of the town, it is easily accessible here and seems to vary from  ‘managed’ to slightly more natural in appearance:

Golf course tidyGolf course untidy

The river then approaches the town where it disappears from view – it enters into two tunnels flowing under the main high street in Ramsey  – the Great Whyte – and emerges to the north of the town near to the community centre and Tesco supermarket. It has now become the High Lode and is navigable from this point on. (Picture with boat taken in June!) 

Smaller Tunnel Downstream of Ramsey - 18.06.15Narrow Boat - 18.06.15

After this the river flows steadily northwards towards the River Nene (Old Course) which it joins about two miles north of Ramsey.

High Lode@Bill FenConfluence Old Nene&High Lode

As you can see it has the appearance of a much more typical Fenland river here  – navigation and water management being primary considerations.

Next week:  Bury Brook further upstream 

New Project in Ramsey

The Water Care Partnership has been successful in the application for a new community engagement and river improvement project in the Market Town of Ramsey. The project has been awarded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as part of the Catchment Partnership Action Fund.

Image was taken on the Northern edge of Ramsey town looking towards the Tesco and the wind farm.

Image was taken on the Northern edge of Ramsey town looking towards the Tesco and wind farm.

What will the project do?

The project will run until the end of March 2016 and in this time, Cambridgeshire ACRE will look to recruit local volunteers to help improve the quality of the river in Ramsey through a series of litter picking days and through careful monitoring and investigation into some of the issues affecting the river. The volunteers will also be instrumental in promoting messages of a healthy river within the community and surrounding areas for Ramsey.

Working with the local community in Ramsey is instrumental for this project to make Ramsey’s rivers more appealing and healthier for everyone to enjoy.

Could you be a volunteer?

We are looking for local volunteers to help improve the river in Ramsey and the surrounding area. Volunteers will be trained in many aspects of water care, such as the monitoring and reporting of water quality and monitoring the general state of the watercourses and their surroundings. This unique opportunity will enable residents to play an active role in their local water care management, make links with the main organisations responsible for our water environment and share their knowledge with their community in general. No experience is necessary for this position as full training will be given.

For an informal discussion about this opportunity, please contact Rachael Brown at Cambridgeshire ACRE on 01353 865037 or alternatively please complete this short application form and Rachael will get back in touch with you.

 

Have Your Say on Improvements to Your Local Water Environment

Over the last six years, the Environment Agency has been involved in improving the local rivers, lakes and river estuaries within England. The aim of these improvements is to make better habitats for people and wildlife in which to live, work and use recreationally – generally promoting the sustainable use of our water environment.

Part of this process involves consulting with local people to ensure that the Environment Agency is doing the right actions in the right places. The Environment Agency is currently asking for your opinion on their current draft plans, which will be released and implemented later this year. This is your chance to get involved in what happens to your local water environment. The consultation can be found at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/update-to-the-draft-river-basin-management-plans.

Old Course River Nene, looking upstream. Image by Cambridgeshire ACRE

Old Course River Nene, looking upstream. Image by Cambridgeshire ACRE

Alternatively, if you find the online resources not to be helpful or prefer the old-fashioned approach of talking to someone face-to-face, the Environment Agency will be holding a series of local drop-in workshops to help with the consultation of this plan. The following workshops are available:

  • Thursday 26th February, 10am – 1pm at the Histon & Impington Royal British Legion, 22-24 Saffron Road, Histon, Cambridge, CB24 9LJ, with focus on the Cam and Ely Ouse Catchment. This workshop will mainly focus on the Cam and Ely Ouse Catchment
  • Tuesday 3rd March, 10am -1pm at Mepal Outdoor Centre, Chatteris Rd, Mepal, CB6 2AZ. This workshop will mainly focus on the Old Bedford and Middle Level Catchment
  • Thursday 5th March, 10am – 1pm at the Greensand Trust’s Woodland Centre, Maulden Wood, Haynes West End, Bedfordshire, MK45 3QT. This workshop will mainly focus on the Upper and Bedford Ouse catchment
Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Area - Management Catchments. Source - The Environment Agency

Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Area – Management Catchments. Source – The Environment Agency

The workshops will mainly focus on one particular catchment, however, material for all the catchments will be available at all workshops and so please feel free to attend one that is most convenient. There is no need to book; however, to make sure the Environment Agency bring enough biscuits and documents along it may be helpful to contact Teresa Brown (contact details below) if you are interested in attending a workshop.

For further information, please contact Teresa Brown, Catchment Co-ordinator at the Environment Agency (Teresa.brown@environment-agency.gov.uk or 01733 464228).

River Basin Management Plan

The Water Framework Directive is the main driver of improvements to water quality within Europe and consists of 6 yearly cycles of planning and delivery, in England these plans are the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

The first planning and delivery cycle began in 2009 and the Environment Agency has produced their draft River Basin Management Plans for the next cycle, which will begin in 2015. This plan is currently available for consultation and the draft plan can be found at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/wfd/draft_plans/consult.

To help you do this the Environment Agency is holding a series of workshops over the next few months.  The first workshop will look at the Old Bedford and Middle Level Management Catchment on 11 December 2014, 9.30 – 1.00pm at the Environment Agency’s Denver Complex (Sluice Road, Denver, Downham Market, PE38 0EG) and you are cordially invited to come along.

In this first series of workshops the Environment Agency will introduce the draft RBMP consultation documents, the questions and other sources of information available to you. There will be an opportunity to look at some of the local information.

The aims are that, by the end of this meeting, you will:

  • Understand how your input can influence the draft Anglian River Basin Management Plan to improve the water environment.
  • Know what is in the plan, supporting documents and tools.
  • Know how to respond to the consultation and by when.

There will also be some information about Flood Risk Management Plans and the consultation for this, which closes on 31 January 2015.

Please reply to Teresa Brown, Catchment Coordinator, Environment Agency,

Email: teresa.brown@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01733 464228

Post: Brampton Office, Bromholme Lane, Brampton, Huntingdon, PE28 4NE.

 

Once registered, we will send you the full agenda and details.

Tea and coffee will be provided.

Please let Teresa know if you have any mobility difficulties, the meeting room is accessed by a flight of stairs.

 

If you can’t make this date – other events in this Area that you could attend are:

 

  • Tuesday 16 December at Swaffham, The Ecotech Centre   – NW Norfolk Management Catchment
  • Wednesday 17 December at Marston Moretaine, The Forest Centre   – Upper and Bedford Ouse Management Catchment
  • Thursday 18 December at Waterbeach, (venue to be confirmed) – Cam and Ely Ouse management Catchment

 

Riverside Walk and Talks – Denver and March

The culture and history of The Fens is strongly linked with the watercourses that drain the area. However, every action on the ground has the potential to impact these watercourses.

Image from Cambridgeshire ACRE

Narrow boats on the river at March. Image from Cambridgeshire ACRE

The Water Care Partnership is hosting two guided riverside walks at Denver and March on the 20th September. This will be a chance for you to enjoy a walk along the riverside whilst also learning about some of the impacts that are affecting our rivers. The walks will be approximately 2-3 miles with frequent stops to take pictures and talk about our rivers.

River at Denver

Denver. Image by Cambridgeshire ACRE

To find out more about the Riverside Walk & Talks, please contact Jennie Thomas, Water Catchment Officer at Cambridgeshire ACRE 01353 865044 or jennifer.thomas@cambsacre.org.uk. Spaces are limited, to book please visit – www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/walkandtalk.

Starting my volunteer summer placement…

Emily is completing a summer placement with Cambridgeshire ACRE working on both the Water Care Partnership and the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership. Find out more about Emily and her interests in her blog.

Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens

logosHello, I am Emily Stacey and I have just begun a Volunteer Summer Placement with Cambridgeshire ACRE working on both The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership and The Water Care Partnership. Having always lived in a rural area I have a great passion for our local countryside and am strongly supportive of the conservation of its unique wildlife and habitats. This summer I graduated from the University of Reading with a degree in Physical Geography. I now dream of a career in environmental management where I can play an active role in promoting the importance of the environment as well as work closely with communities.

??????????????????????????????? The Old Bedford River at the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve. Images by Sheils Flynn for OWLP.

Alongside my position at Cambridgeshire ACRE I work for the National Trust at Wimpole Hall Estate where conservation of the property, land and the ‘Spirit of Wimpole’ is a…

View original post 729 more words

Have a meander along your river

Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens

Do you live in or near Welney, Denver, March or Ely? They have something in common… Can you guess what they all have? Rivers! They all have their own character and issues. Would you like to enjoy and learn about your local Fenland rivers?

Logos

This is a chance to enjoy a lovely, informative and sociable walk along some of our local rivers whilst discussing and gaining an understanding of issues and impacts upon these and other Fenland rivers and on the Ouse Washes. It will be a laid-back endeavour with stops to view the scenery and features, or to chat and take photographs.

The Ouse Washes The Ouse Washes. Image by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, all rights reserved.

A partnership (The Water Care Partnership) is working to investigate and work towards solutions for the problems these rivers face and which have been pointed out by the Environment Agency. This is where you and your ideas…

View original post 275 more words

Catchment Partnerships

The Old Bedford and Middle Level catchment is defined as a ‘Management Catchment’ and is one of 100 that can be found in England and Wales.

A hydrological catchment is usually defined as an area of land in which the surface water flows into one point, usually the sea. A management catchment is not necessarily the same as a hydrological catchment, a management catchment may contain several hydrological catchments particularly near the coast but a hydrological catchment may also be split into several management catchments.

The Great Ouse catchment runs from its spring in Brackley, Buckinghamshire through Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk until flowing into The Wash near King Lynn. This hydrological catchment consists of three management catchments, the Upper Ouse and Bedford Ouse which runs from the source to Earith. At Earith the Great Ouse River can flow around Ely taking in the Cam, Lark, Little Ouse, Wissey rivers and their tributaries. This section of the Great Ouse is the Cam and Ely Ouse management catchment. Any water that doesn’t flow through Ely enters the Old Bedford and Middle Level management catchment via the New Bedford River and the River Delph. The rest of this catchment is made up from the Middle Level drains system. For the Water Care Partnership

The Great Ouse catchment, along with the rivers in north west Norfolk, are managed by the Environment Agency by the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Area, a map of the area can be seen below. This area is part of the wider Anglian River Basin District which covers 27,890 square km.

Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Area - Management Catchments. Source - The Environment Agency

Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Area – Management Catchments. Source – The Environment Agency

 

Under the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) there is a catchment partnership in place for these four management catchments. As you can see from the map above, the management catchments can cover quite a large area with a lot of different things happening in those areas. For this reason, the Environment Agency have split some management catchments into smaller ‘operational catchments’. These operational catchments help communities and organisations to work at a more local level, really making sure that local people have a say in their local water environment.

The Upper Ouse and Bedford Ouse catchment has several organisations operating at an operational catchment scale. These organisations include Marston Vale Trust, Milton Keynes Parks Trust, Greensand Trust, Ouse Valley AONB and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity. Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity are acting as the secretariat for the management catchment.

The catchment partnership for the Cam and Ely Ouse is hosted by Anglian Water and The Rivers Trust. The CamEO partnership covers the whole management catchment with help from local organisations and groups at a local level to understand the issues. More information on the CamEO partnership can be found at http://www.cameopartnership.org/.

Finally the North West Norfolk management catchment is hosted by Norfolk Rivers Trust. They also cover the North Norfolk management catchment which is outside of this Environment Agency area – showing the need to build strong partnerships. For more information on Norfolk Rivers Trust, please visit norfolkriverstrust.org/.

For more information on your local catchment partnership, please visit http://www.catchmentbasedapproach.org/.

Elvers Galore

An exceptionally early arrival of large numbers of elvers and eels has been recorded at the new Wiggenhall St Germans Pumping Station elver pass near Kings Lynn. After decades of very poor numbers of young eels returning from their breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea, a significant improvement has been recorded in 2014 at many sites around the UK. At the new Wiggenhall St Germans Pumping Station, the second largest in Europe, an elver pass has been installed to allow the young eels to migrate into the waterways of the Middle Level catchment. The catchment covers 70,000 hectares of the Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk fens between the Nene Washes near Peterborough and the Ouse Washes from Earith to Downham Market.

The new St Germans Pumping Station near Wiggenhall St Germans, Kings Lynn. It is one of the largest pumping stations in Europe.          Photo Cliff Carson   ref. IMG_2394

The new St Germans Pumping Station near Wiggenhall St Germans, Kings Lynn. It is one of the largest pumping stations in Europe. Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_2394

At the beginning of April the first elvers of the year were seen making their way up the 35 meter long pass from the tidal River Ouse. The elver pass is an angled trough with bristle boards inside it that help the eels to climb up it. They are attracted to it by the fresh water that is trickled down the trough from the upstream side. 10,000 glass eels were recorded in the first three days of April.

The elver pass during construction. The green bristle tufts in the trough enable the elvers to climb its 35 meter length.                                  Photo Cliff Carson  ref IMG_9281

The elver pass during construction. The green bristle tufts in the trough enable the elvers to climb its 35 meter length.
Photo Cliff Carson ref IMG_9281

Glass eels are the early stage of elvers (young eels) and are nearly transparent. They are thinner than a shoe lace and less than three inches (75mm) long. During the first three weeksof April nearly 50,000 elvers made their way through the pass. This is an exceptional quantity for so early in the elver migration period which lasts from April to October.

Some of the 50,000 elvers that came through the elver pass during April 2014.                                  Photo Cliff Carson ref IMG_2892

Some of the 50,000 elvers that came through the elver pass during April 2014.
Photo Cliff Carson ref IMG_2892

There is a chamber at the top of the elver pass where they can rest and be counted. It is difficult to count the small elvers in quantity but they can be weighed and their numbers calculated from the weight. As the season progresses the glass eels become darker and are referred to as elvers.

Glass eels at the top of the elver pass queuing up for the final leg of their three-thousand-mile journey.                               Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_9077

Glass eels at the top of the elver pass queuing up for the final leg of their three-thousand-mile journey.
Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_9077

Glass eels at the top of the elver pass queuing up for the final leg of their three-thousand-mile journey.                               Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_6119

Glass eels at the top of the elver pass queuing up for the final leg of their three-thousand-mile journey.
Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_6119

Later, larger young eels also climb the elver pass. They too are looking for fresh water in the Middle Level catchment to feed in. They will spend the next 10 to 15 years growing and putting on fat that will sustain them on their long journey back to their breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea.   Cliff Carson, Environmental Officer for the Middle Level BAP Partnership said ‘It is great to see a boom year for elvers after so very many years when their numbers were less than 5% of the former totals returning to the UK.  We hope this improved trend will continue. The St Germans Pumping Station elver pass will give excellent access for eels and elvers into the Middle Level rivers and drains that will benefit eel population recovery in the future’.    

Cliff Carson, Environmental Officer for the Middle Level Commissioners monitoring elver numbers at the St Germans Pumping Station elver pass.            Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_2955

Cliff Carson, Environmental Officer for the Middle Level Commissioners monitoring elver numbers at the St Germans Pumping Station elver pass. Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_2955

 

 

Cliff Carson is the Environmental Officer for the Middle Level Commissioners. The Middle Level Commissioners are one of the partners in the Water Care Partnership, more information on them can be found at www.middlelevel.gov.uk.

 

Riverside Walk and Talk

The Water Care Partnership will be hosting some ‘Riverside Walk and Talks’ during September. To start with, there will be three events:

Welney – 14/9 AM

Denver – 20/9 AM

March – 20/9 PM

Depending on the success of these events more may be available at a later date.

The walk will be a gentle stroll of approximately 2 miles. It will give you the chance to enjoy your local river and we will also be discussing some the issues that rivers in general face. We will then discuss some of the more specific problems that are facing Fenland rivers and why these rivers are so important to us.

After the walk some light refreshments will be provided and this is an opportunity for you to highlight any issues that you might be aware of and find out ways that you can help protect your local water environment.

If you would like to take part in a ‘Riverside Walk & Talk’, please contact Jennie Thomas, Water Catchment Officer at Cambridgeshire ACRE (jennifer.thomas@cambsacre.org.uk or 01353 865044).