Lockdown provided enough space for me to really take a look at the lovely little section of the river Lugg upon which the Riverside Inn is situated.
Our river Lugg (Welsh name, Afon Llugwy) rises near Llangynllo in Radnorshire, and meets its tributary, the river Arrow, near Leominster.
It flows for 63 miles, before joining the river Wye just downstream of Hereford, at Mordiford.
The wildlife this river supports is so impressive. In the last year, on our small stretch of water alone, I have seen kingfishers, otters, native crayfish, trout, salmon, grayling, and dragonflies.
Sadly, our riverbank was devastated by the February 2020 flooding. We are now looking to redesign and rebuild our riverside area, but our starting point is what can be done to benefit the river, and create wildlife habitats for the native species here.
That set me off looking at the situation for our beautiful rivers in the UK.
According to the Rivers Trust (www.riverstrust.org):
*0% of rivers in England and Wales are in overall good health.
*99% of British rivers have artificial barriers obstructing migrating fish.
*There has been an 83% decline if freshwater species globally since 1970.
*1% of the earth’s surface is made up by fresh water ecosystems, yet they provide habitat for 100,000 plus species.
Apparently, 44 rivers in England (some 2500 km) are legally protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as they are the best remaining examples of different river types and associated habitats and species. However, despite this protection they come under pressure, as many of these rivers have been affected by large-scale historical damage, as well as on-going uses of rivers and their floodplains (e.g. for flood defences, agriculture and urban development).
On my quest to find out more about our nearby rivers, I was fortunate enough to take a day off, and managed to visit Symonds Yat. Although I grew up in north Herefordshire, I had never visited this beautiful area before. It made me realise just how much of an asset these rivers really are to us locals, and also for tourism.
Much more needs to be done to protect these amazing local features, so that they survive for future generations to enjoy.
We aim to play our small part by improving our flood devastated riverbank. One of the projects we are looking at to help our river is to create a riparian buffer by planting shrubs and trees in fringes of grass. These buffers improve water quality by filtering sediment and pollutants from soil runoff, and provide shade to keep the water cool, as overly warm water has a detrimental impact on the aquatic life of the stream.
We are delighted to be playing a small part in helping the aquatic ecosystems on our doorstep to flourish.
Andy Link, chef/patron at the Riverside Inn, Aymestrey