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.

 

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.

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.