Our latest short films!

We have had two new short films produced by Northern Heart Films as part of our Ribble Life Together project. The first short film looks at the work we are doing with farmers in the Ribble Catchment, and how it not only benefits our environment, but also the farmers who care for it. The second looks takes a light hearted look at how important it is to educate the next generation of river guardians, equipping them with the knowledge and skills that they need to look after the environment, and ensuring that it will stay with them forever.

Monday 4th February to Friday 15th February 2019: Work experience

Monday 4th February to Friday 15th February 2019: Work experience

By Henry, St. Christopher’s CE High School


When I arrived, I was met by Ellie, who showed me around and introduced me to all the welcoming staff at the Ribble Rivers Trust. Firstly, I found out what everyone’s roles were, before learning in more detail what the Trust does and what I would be doing during the next fortnight, including tree planting which I did the next day. Then in the afternoon I went to Bashall Brook with Adam W to take some pictures to show the difference that has been made to the site as many trees and fences were put up and planted and there had been other features like brash bundling put in to stop erosion.

I arrived in early on Tuesday to go tree planting with Jonny and some of the apprentices, after loading the truck we set off for the day. After offloading the truck upon arrival to Wycoller, we set out alongside the stream planting trees. Planting trees near the river helps cool the temperature of the river and can stabilise its banks. Once we had planted all there was to plant, we set back for the warmth of the office all tired out, especially me as I’d never planted before!

On Wednesday I went to Stainforthwith Helen to test a circular walk route. On the route we took grid references at any gates, stiles or other forms of gateways. All of this is to produce a leaflet for the circular walk and to see if it is true to the map and suitable for people to walk. When we got back from Stainforth I started researching places on and around the walk as information for the leaflet learning lots about Stainforth, I also put the grid references into a computer to map out the route checking we had walked it right and to know where all the gates, styles, and other features were.

On my fourth day I was introduced to Neil, who is involved with the Rivers in the Classroom project. We had to go around some of the schools who are keeping trout in their classrooms, checking on them. We went to schools in various locations, from Oswaldtwistle to Hurst Green, checking every school’s tank. They were all fine, so we turned the temperature up on the tanks to encourage the trout to develop. When the trout grow, they can start to be fed by the children, getting them more involved, eventually the trout will be released into a river near to the school. As well as checking trout we also went to a meeting to discuss fishing in schools and some fishing awards for a school which Neil runs.

On Friday I went to a careers fair at Myerscough College with Matt, Kathryn and Helen. At the fair there was lots of other businesses and organisations from different subject areas. There were lots of students present and many spoke with us about what the Trust does and what career paths it can lead to and the volunteering side of it, we gave out many leaflets and students loved the free pens!

Then we went for a much-needed lunch break before heading back to the event. Lots of students enquired and all from different subject areas and tried out the virtual reality head set we brought along, which shows a 360-degree view of two sites improved by the Trust, giving facts about some work done and issues in the catchment. Then after the rush had died down and students had left, we packed up and headed back for the day. This had been a great first week to start my two weeks work experience, getting involved in multiple tasks to do with different sides of the Trust with different people.

To start my second week, on Monday I went out with Jack and Kathryn to Stotts Farm with Myerscough College to do some diffuse pollution training. Once the students had arrived Jack gave a talk on diffuse pollution including what diffuse pollution is and how it can be controlled. We were then given a guided walk around the farm to see what they do and how they have stopped some diffuse pollution. Then we had a lunch break before heading out to a site down the road where some work had been done by the Trust to stop diffuse pollution, such as planting trees on hills and softening the ground and slowing run off.

On Tuesday I went with Jonny, Ryan, Rob and Michael (a volunteer) to Wycoller tree planting. We planted some aspen, common oak, holly, silver birch just to name a few. When we arrived, we split different types of trees up into bags and went out onto the hillside in the wind. I mostly did some hammering of the stakes, holding the cases up for the protection of the tree, especially needed with the wind up there and all the rabbits. After planting lots of trees, we headed back to the office to unload the truck after warming up.

On Wednesday I went to Lytham with Helen to clean a beach with some volunteers and staff from LOVEmyBEACH. We then had a meeting with Emily from LOVEmyBEACH to talk about working together in and around the estuary and tidal River Ribble. This is because the areas the two charities cover overlaps near the estuary, meaning they can work together on certain events. Litter picked along the Ribble and other smaller brooks and streams around the Fylde area is prevented from ending up in the sea. Then we went to a park in Preston to look at the amount of rubbish being tipped there and into the stream, which all ends up in the Ribble to try organising a clean-up. Then we went to some schools and local businesses to promote a tree planting day near Preston at half term as it is family friendly, so ideal for locals.

It was back out tree planting on Thursday with an early start as we headed out to Wycoller on a very nice morning with the sun shining. When we arrived, we put up a sign on the main road for volunteers as it was a volunteer tree plant. Before the volunteers arrived Jonny, Ryan and I started planting some Scots Pine, then some volunteers arrived so we planted with them. The sun stayed shining all day and after a few hours it was time for a break and coffee, and before long we were planting again, I had a chance to meet new people and chat to them whilst planting in the lovely weather for a change. Then after a day of planting we headed to the office once again, a lot of progress had been made at Wycoller whilst I’ve been here and is soon to be completed.

Overall, I’ve had an enjoyable two weeks at the Trust doing many different tasks and getting a taste of what it will be like to work in the future. I have learnt a lot from how to plant trees to diffuse pollution. It has been a very positive experience, and I’ve picked up many skills, and gained in confidence along the way talking to people outside of my friendship group. I have also learnt all about the Trust and how they help my local rivers and what impact it had. I would like to thank the Trust for having me and everyone helping me out and giving me great experiences, also for a welcoming atmosphere in all areas. Couldn’t have picked a better place for my work experience.

Christmas tree collections: UPDATE

UPDATE: Our Christmas tree collection scheme has been a huge success this year with hundreds of Christmas trees collected. These trees will be used in our brash bundling work, where they will provide  support and stability to eroding river banks, helping us to limit river erosion and build river banks back up.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to the Green Jersey, the landowners who let us use their fields as collection points, the volunteers who helped with collections, and all those who donated their trees!

Ellie and Adam providing perspective for our Christmas tree mound!


Due to an amazing amount of support we are no longer able to accommodate new Christmas tree collections.

This is the first year we have run this appeal and we have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had. Thank you for thinking of us and we hope you’ll remember us next year. We are active all year round, so please visit ribbletrust.org.uk for more information about the range of work we do to improve the rivers in the Ribble Catchment for wildlife and people.

What’s in our rivers?

Our survey team searching for fish

Our survey team searching for fish

Over the summer the Trust have surveyed over 300 sites across the Ribble catchment. Our survey team do this to monitor fish numbers, particularly salmon and trout numbers. This helps us to gauge the health of our rivers and look for the areas which are doing well, and the areas which seem to be in poorer health.

This year’s summer has been extraordinarily warm and dry, leading to lower river levels and higher river temperatures. This caused problems both for our team (who are more used to summer rain!), and the catchments resident fish. 67 of our 333 sites had extremely low water levels and a further 6 were completely dry.

Fisheries Office Adam with his catch

Fisheries Office Adam with his catch

Despite this there has been a rise in the number of salmon found in the Ribble and Hodder, with the Hodder yielding the highest numbers of salmon. However, there has been a drop in their overall distribution. This drop has been attributed to the warmer weather, warmer river temperatures, and low water levels.

On the Calder trout appear to be thriving, with numbers doubling compared to last year. This is likely to be a sign of the species recovering following the Boxing Day floods, which decimated fish numbers in the Calder. However, salmon numbers here are still low here. Next year we are planning to survey more sites in this area and carry out further investigations into what could be preventing salmon from spawning here.

It’s not all about salmon and trout. There are many other species that we find and record across the catchment. One notable discovery this year is the number of sites supporting juvenile chub. The fisherman’s favourite has been found at another 20 sites this year!

To find out more look out for an extended report in our 2019 newsletter, or our official report which will be uploaded to the Ribble Rivers Trust website soon.

Primrose Lodge Blue and Greenway Project


Primrose Lodge Blue and Greenway Project (PLBGP) is an ambitious project to convert the former Primrose Mill Lodge into a pubic open space within the heart of Clitheroe.

The project is receiving £500,768 from the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, through the European Regional Development Fund, as well as section 106 funding from Ribble Valley Borough Council and charitable funding from Ribble Rivers Trust.

The project will achieve its aims by improving the habitats, providing public access, and connecting the river habitat, and as a result the site will boast a diversity of wildlife for people to explore and enjoy. This project is hoped to be one of several to convert the whole of this site into much valued green and blue space for people and wildlife, unique in its placement with an urban surrounding.

A present day Primrose Lodge

A present day Primrose Lodge

Why is this work necessary?

In 1787 a 7 metre high dam was constructed to provide a consistent source of water that could be utilised to power a cotton mill, and laterally a print works, paper works, and lifting equipment manufacturer at Primrose Works. The Lodge is now redundant owing to significant re-development of Primrose Works negating the need for water supply. The construction of the Lodge prevented upstream migration of a number of aquatic species, but also created an interruption to and artificial sediment regime downstream.

Primrose Lodge Dam

Primrose Lodge Under Construction in the 18th Century

The Lodge was never decommissioned as part of the wider redevelopment, so the negative impact on the aquatic ecology continues, and is negatively impacting downstream as well as upstream. However the unique nature of the site, and lack of human intervention has resulted in the site being given a local conservation designation (Biological Heritage Site). The designation is based on the fact that the industrial activity and artificial nature of the site make a contribution to biodiversity in their own right, as well as supporting flowering ferns and plants that are classed as vulnerable in the “Provisional Lancashire Red Data Lost of Vascular Plants”. The key features already present will be retained and enhanced, whilst new features are also created.

What will the work entail?

The project principally consists of three stages:

    • A fish passage project
    • The de-silting of the redundant mill lodge and planting of marginal and emergent wetland plants, as well as clearance of litter and fly tipping
    • Creation of a footpath, bridge, viewing area, and signage.

You can see a plan of the different pieces of work involved in these stages here


What will the outcome of the work achieve?

The fish pass will connect of 9 hectares of Mearley Brook and lead to salmon, sea trout, and eels being present not only in the heart of Clitheroe, but beyond to Worston and into the streams on the side of Pendle Hill.  They will in turn support other wildlife such as kingfishers, herons and otters.

The de-silting will create a permanent open water habitat, which will be home to wildfowl and invertebrates that will support bats and other species, as well as a significant improvement of  the aesthetic value of the site.

The footpath will connect Primrose Road, and the lower end of Woone Lane to Whalley Road, and enable children to walk to school through a woodland walk and nature park.  The viewing area will allow people a much better view across the site, for people to enjoy.

How will we determine the projects success?

We will use a range of measures to determine the project’s success.  These will link to the different aspects of the project.

For the fish pass we will monitor how fish use the fish pass using “PIT tags” (Passive Integrate Transponder Tags), and radio tags, to see how, where and when they migrate, and importantly if they migrate successfully through the fish pass.  We will then monitor the fish populations upstream, and other locations, to compare changes in fish populations to determine if there has been a positive response.

Radio tracking tagged fish on the River Ribble

For the de-silting, we will monitor the water quality coming into and out of the Lodge, but also the water levels and plants, birds and mammals that use the Lodge.  This will be done using “sondes” automated sampling devices that will assess the water quality, and compare how clean it is coming in and going out.  For the plants, birds and mammals, we hope to work with volunteers and run training courses in species identification to gather records on species present after the works are completed, and compare this with the surveys done prior to the works.

The footpaths and viewing areas, we will hold events and undertake surveys to determine how well used the footpath is used, and what people think about the site, and works carried out.  We also hope to use these surveys to identify future work

Who will look after the site post works?

Very excitingly a new Trust – Primrose Community Nature Trust (PCNT) – has been established to own, manage and maintain the site into the future and ensure that it continues and increases its value as a public nature park.   For more information on PCNT please visit their website:


This Christmas keep our sewers clear!

This festive season we’re asking people across the UK to help keep our rivers and beaches clean by making sure all their leftover cooking fats and oils are put in the bin rather than poured down the sink.

If leftover fat from cooking the Christmas dinner goes down the sink, even with hot water and washing up liquid, it soon sets hard in the cold pipes. When it mixes with other unflushable items, such as wet wipes and sanitary products, it creates what is known as a Fatberg.

The Fatbergs then clog the sewerage pipes and stop the waste water reaching the treatment works as intended. This means the risk of sewage spilling out into homes, streets, rivers and seas is substantially increased and this type of pollution is particularly bad for the invertebrates, fish, mammals, and birds that call the river their home.

However, this is easily addressed. Make sure you follow these simple steps this Christmas and give the gift of clean rivers and seas for 2018 and beyond:

  1. Scrape or pour leftover fat from roasting trays and pans into a heat resistant container then recycle or bin it once cooled
  2. Wipe out grease left in pans with kitchen roll before washing
  3. Use a sink strainer to catch any greasy food scraps

Work experience by Abigail Naylor, Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Sixth Form

Work experience with the Trust

Monday When I arrived, I was introduced to the team members and I was shown around the building. After a health and safety brief by Emily, I was given some leaflets and information about the trust and what they do within the catchment.

I then visited Bashall Brook with Adam and we checked the quality of a newly built fenced area to ensure it would be suitable and hold up in the winter months when the river levels rise.

At lunch time we went to a wooded location near the trust and did a cleanup of the litter in the area. I then went onto the trusts website and read the short summaries of each team member’s role and I spoke to Nick- whose job sounded interesting. He sent me a link so I could access a current project and read up on it.

I spoke to Ellie about her role in GIS and how it is used within the trust. This was particularly interesting as it showed the trusts impact on the environment in a visual format and how much they have done for the catchment.

Tuesday On Tuesday morning I went with Michelle to take part in some volunteer work picking invasive species called Himalayan Balsam which was introduced to England in 1839. The plant colonizes along river banks and it is a concern to the environment as when it dies back in the winter months, the earth underneath it is left bare and exposed, meaning it is vulnerable to erosion. To avoid this, we pull up the plants (this is fairly easy, as the roots are shallow and not too strong).

In the afternoon, I helped Emily gather kit and sort out activities for the family fun-day on Thursday.

Wednesday On Wednesday I went electrofishing with Adam and Jake. Before that day, I didn’t know what electrofishing was, or why it was done, however it was soon explained to me in detail by the staff. After observing at the first site, it was my turn to have a go with the net, and I caught: some trout and salmon fry, as well as many… many minnow and three eels.

In total we visited eight different sites, however after a month and a half of very warm weather, some sites we visited were all dried up!

Families at the Family Invert Fun Day

Thursday Thursday was the family fun-day at Peel Park in Accrington. We set up the tent and after talking to a few families for a while, we walked up to the lodges with some nets and trays to see what we could catch.

In the end, we ended up with a wide variety of species, the most interesting being newts and a tadpole.

Friday On Friday, I spoke to Jonny about his role with volunteers and he explained to me how he got involved with the trust and what he does when he takes volunteers out into the field.

I then went with Nick to a local farm which he was working with. The idea was to work with the farmers to put them onto a scheme whereby they would ‘get back’ for making adjustments to their farm to make it more environmentally friendly. I sat through the discussion between Nick and the owners and listened to both views. This was especially interesting as I hadn’t realized how many small adjustments to a space could have such a great impact on the environment.

Being the education officer, Emily explained that she often works with children and asked me to develop an idea for an activity about the time taken for different waste products to decay. This again was an intriguing task, as I am usually the one learning and completing tasks as opposed to designing them.

Overall, this week has been a very fascinating week, filled with new experiences and learning opportunities. Before this placement, I had no idea that there were so many diverse roles within organisations such as the Ribble Rivers Trust. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the trust, and I would highly recommend it to anybody looking to gain experience with environmental work, or to volunteer and do good for our environment.

Work experience, by Marco Dobson

From the basis of wanting to do an enjoyable and interesting work experience, I contacted the Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT). Through one week of working among the people here at the RRT, I have learnt so much like fish ID, invertebrate ID, knowledge of land, tree ID, erosion defence techniques and much much more. The people here have helped me understand the importance of the work that the RRT team do: without this work, the River Ribble Catchment would not see the improvement in rate of erosion, fish spawning, visiting fish, flooding and more.

In only one week, I have managed to go out doing the electro-fishing and been to eco-conferences teaching and showing other people the importance of this organisation and what they do. After having three days of going out electro-fishing, I have been taught about many different types of fish and their characteristics. Also looking at all the invertebrates close-up has shown me that there is so much more in water than expected. All in all, I have been amazed at how well that the River Ribble Catchment is being managed and sustained by the Ribble Rivers Trust. Also, I have had an amazing week here and it has only made me want to do more work like this.

Angling- recreation on our rivers

When thinking of sport, not everyone will think of angling however, it is one of the most popular sports in the UK. The fishing industry is worth over £3 billion per year, with over 100,000 weekly participants and over 4,000,000 people having been fishing in the past 2 years.

An adult chub, one of the most frequently found coarse species in the Ribble catchment.

An adult chub, one of the most frequently found coarse species in the Ribble catchment.

Coarse fishing is the most popular type of fishing, with participants fishing rivers, canals, lakes, or ponds, and returning caught fish to the water. There are many types of coarse fish in the UK, but the most popular in the Ribble Catchment are dace, chub, and roach. There are also many different methods, or techniques used in fishing, and different tackle used for each technique.

Game fishing closely follows coarse fishing in terms of popularity, again participants fish in freshwater although this tends to be rivers, streams, or fishing lakes. Game fish are often taken for food, although the number, type and size that can be taken varies depending on river byelaws or fishery rules.

In the Ribble Catchment the most common game species are trout and salmon. Grayling are also caught using game fishing methods, but they are regarded as coarse fish. Again, there are many methods used in game fishing but game fishing, especially sea trout and salmon, can be more difficult due as spawning adults rarely eat when they return to rivers and so fishing lures do not work in the same way!

A normally elusive spring salmon caught (and released!) on main River Ribble.

Fishing the Ribble on the Trust's ever popular Mitton beat.

Fishing the Ribble on the Trust’s ever popular Mitton beat.

Getting into fishing doesn’t need to be expensive, tackle shops are happy to give advice to beginners, and basic kits can often be purchased for under £40.00. Perhaps the easiest way to start fishing is to go along with a family member or a friend who has been fishing before. Joining a fishing club is another useful place to start, many clubs offer taster sessions and events especially for those new to fishing. You can also fish some great beats in the Ribble Catchment thanks to our Angling Passport scheme, take a look at our Angling Passport webpage to find out more.

If you are aged 12 or over, you will need to have a fishing licence before going fishing. You may also need to pay the fishing club or owner of the beat that you choose to fish at, and you will need to ensure that you are aware of any additional byelaws.