It was a great pleasure to be involved at the end of this summer with a vibrant "Open Village" event in Clayton West in the Kirklees region of West Yorkshire. As well as the many musical, local business and art exhibitions - a local angler and wildlife enthusiast Phil Slater had arranged an event to help reconnect people with their river. Alongside Chris Firth MBE of the Don Catchment Rivers Trust we hoped to increase the awareness of the river and the challenges it faces.
So many of the local families that came to the riverside activities (including bug dipping and fly casting lessons)came away with a real enthusiasm for the river and its future care and enhancement. It was a great testament to Phil's own passion for the river and the commitment he has made to see things continue to improve on this tributary of the Don (in 2015, right down at the confluence with the River Don, the first salmon parr was recorded on the Dearne in an Environment Agency survey).
The river faces many problems - from discharges of poor quality water, to invasive plants like giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam and habitat degradation through industrialisation and development. In places it escapes the worst of these impacts - and here there are pockets of wild trout and grayling populations. But the presence of these pollution-sensitive species are patchy and need all the help that they can get.
The video below covers the wide diversity of events that made up the open village event "Made In Clayton West".
Watch from 3 min 44 seconds to see Phil Slater explain the Friends of the Dearne project:
You can follow Phil and friends in their bid to protect and enhance the Dearne on their facebook page:
Facebook page for Friends of the Dearne
And you can read a short report (including the video above) on this summer's event on the Kirklees TV page here:
"Made in Clayton West" page on Kirklees TV