OurCleanRiver 2024

Last year 13 groups joined the Aire Rivers Trust’s OurCleanRiver event. The highlights were clearing tons of debris at Bull Greave Beck and using the steam train in Keighley to transport rubbish and volunteers.

In 2024 we want to involve even more groups in community action to improve our river from Gargrave to Leeds and beyond. These clean-ups will remove litter and debris pollution to help boost the entire river’s health.
River clean-up events will start on Thursday, 14th March until Friday, 22nd March 2024.
This also ties in with the dates of Keep Britain Tidy Spring Clean.

This is the 3rd year we are running events bringing together community action and improvements in your local river.
The improvements are beneficial for wildlife as well as the visual appearance of the district.

How Can Your Community Group Join OurCleanRiver 2024?

Similar to last year we would love you to pick a section of river or beck local to you and organise a clean-up between the dates.

We are able to support your group with equipment, risk assessments, social media templates, and arranging the removal of the collected rubbish.

This is just one of a selection of photos and suggested wording for social media posts we have to share. We can use your logo and wording to complete the phrase.

After you have completed the cleanup, we will ask you to record your achievements and send a photo of the group with the rubbish you have collected.

Join us for River Clean Ups 2024

Aire Rivers Trust will be leading several River Clean Ups across the middle catchment. Dates and locations are available below. Please sign up as a volunteer via our My Impact system at the bottom of the page.

Date and TimePlaceOrganised byLead by
Thursday 14 March 10:00-15:00Kirkstall Goit, KirkstallAire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Friday 15 March 10:00-15:00Buck Lane, BaildonAire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Thurs-Fri 21-22 March 10:00-15:00Holme Beck Holmewood BD4Aire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Thursday 28th March 10:00-15:00Fagley Beck Foston Lane BD2Aire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Thurs-Fri 4-5 April 10:00-15:00Fagley Beck Ravenscliffe BD10Aire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Thurs-Fri 11-12 April 10:00-15:00Bradford Beck (Poplar Rd-station) Shipley BD18Aire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Nick Milsom
nick.milsom@aireriverstrust.org.uk 07378 878857
Thursday
18 April
10:00-15:00
Keighley Worth Valley Railway, KeighleyAire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Friday 19 April 10:00-15:00Aireworth Grove, KeighleyAire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634
Thurs-Fri 25-26 April 10:00-15:00Eller Beck, SkiptonAire Rivers Trust contact@aireriverstrust.org.uk
01274 061902
Gareth Muir gareth.muir@aireriverstrust.org.uk
07883 892634

How To Get Involved

Practical Conservation update January 2024

Project Officer Gareth Muir gives us an update about what the volunteers have been up to last month. 

Tool maintenance

After returning from the Christmas and New Year break, the practical volunteers got stuck into a spot of tool maintenance. Volunteers joined staff at our office in Greengates to sort, clean, sharpen and oil the tools used by the volunteers to carry out practical environmental conservation tasks. Without these tools, we could not carry out the work, so they must be in top condition! Staff and volunteers had the (un)enviable task of going through the Trust's protective equipment (PPE), ensuring it was safe, working and effective. Thankfully, everything was ship shape and Bristol fashion!

Coppicing at Druid's Altar, St Ives, Bingley

Volunteers undertook some coppicing at Druid's Altar hazel coppice on St Ives Estate, Bingley. Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management with roots going back hundreds if not thousands of years. Using hand tools including; loppers, bowsaws and the iconic billhook, volunteers cut hazel 'stools' to harvest 'rods' of various diameters for a range of uses. The main use was to produce hazel hedging stakes. These stakes were later used on sites within the catchment to lay hedges. In the process of producing these stakes, volunteers realised the perfect length for a stake was an 'Olivia' (our River Conservation Assistant) of 1.5 metres! Over the course of three work days, volunteers coppiced 21 stools and produced 112 stakes, some may say the stakes were...'high'.
Why not visit the National Coppicing association to find out more about this fascinating traditional craft?

National Coppice Federation - National Coppice Federation (ncfed.org.uk)

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Hedge maintenance at Trench Meadow, Baildon

The volunteers were busy trimming the holly hedgerow at Trench Meadow. A hedgerow, which in the past had been neglected was in need of some tender loving care. The volunteers provided this by cutting back the encroaching greenery onto the footpath, allowing footpath users to path through unmolested by errant pickily leaves! The volunteers also took the opportunity to remove encroaching bramble on the meadow, thus preventing it's natural succession into woodland. Trench Meadow is a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) containing a variety of flora, which the Trust aims to safeguard for the future.
To find out about Trench Meadow, why not visit this interesting blog post by 'The Nature Guy' who contacted the Trust in summer 2023:

Meet your local SSSI (natureguy.blog)

Hedge laying at Ryeloaf Meadows, Bingley

Hedge-laying continues to be a firm favourite with the Trust's practical conservation volunteers. This month volunteers worked had to lay a predominantly hazel hedge at Ryeloaf Meadows, Bingley; a fantastically untouched site beneath the Bingley Relief Road. Accessed via Dowley Gap Waste centre, the site is managed by Bradford Council's Countryside and Rights of Way team with the Aire Rivers Trust carrying out environmental conservation tasks onsite on their behalf. The traditional countryside management craft of hedge laying is enjoying some what of a resurgence of late and as an organisation the Trust is keen to keep these traditional skills alive and use them to improve habitat in the catchment and beyond. If you'd like to find out more about hedge laying, why not visit the National Hedge laying Society website:

Home Page (hedgelaying.org.uk)

Willow Clearance at Ryeloaf Meadows, Bingley

Willow clearance on the riverside at Ryeloaf Meadows continues, with volunteers removing dense patches of willow near the water's edge. Large stands of willow deflect the flow of the river away from the site, which acts as a flood water overflow. The cut willow is stacked into dense brash piles, which will in time become a new habitat for invertebrates and potentially laying up spots for male otters in the summertime. The composition of the woodland at Ryeloaf Meadow is 'wet' woodland (predominantly common alder and crack willow), which is an under represented habitat in the Bradford area. Woodland management often includes thinning tree numbers and producing deadwood, so that multiple layers of habitat are present with a 'mosaic' of canopy, understory, shrub and herb layer.

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January was a busy month with a variety of tasks. The 'nature' (pardon the pun) of practical conservation dictates that the tasks performed by volunteers vary greatly. Moving ahead into the end of winter the volunteers will be continuing hedge laying, tree planting and gearing up to the river clean ups, once the flood waters have subsided.

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How To Get Involved

Which tree is which?

One of our volunteers, Lucy Johnson, writes about trees.  

If you want to learn how to identify trees in winter when many of the most obvious clues are absent, you could do worse than buy a copy of John Poland’s “The Field Key to Winter Twigs,” published by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Alternatively, you could volunteer with the Aire Rivers Trust in the winter months and pay attention to detail, or give yourself a helping hand by attending Sheffield General Cemetery’s excellent tree identification event, intended to be held annually each January.

A Miniature Quest

As a regular Aire Rivers Trust volunteer who is not particularly observant, I went to Sheffield to learn more about the species we have been planting and to sneak a peek at the beautiful deconsecrated Victorian cemetery. I wanted to increase my ability to identify “whips,” the very young trees carefully planted by the Aire Rivers Trust in the winter months. Not just any old whip will do – the ones selected by ART are chosen to bear in mind their nativeness, their ability to coexist with water, how susceptible they are to climate change and sometimes how appetising deer find them. I was envious of the project coordinators' and other volunteers' ability to identify the whips at a glance, with a surety and ease that eluded me. With many phenomena, knowing how it’s done or knowing more about the topic can take away its simple enjoyment; let’s see if that would be the case for me.

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A Picturesque Setting

Navigating to the cemetery was pretty easy – I headed out of the city centre and soon found a steep road heading up a hill signposted “Cemetery Road.” Reasoning that I was likely in the right place, I ended up in an oasis of calm, surrounded by lovely, currently unidentifiable to me, old trees and picturesque gravestones. There was a sense of peace in the setting, enhanced by the occasional strolling dog walker. Sally and a team of dedicated volunteers manage the cemetery. Sheffield City Council supports tree maintenance.

Three Experts in One Day

I quickly found my way to the Samuel Worth Chapel, where I was greeted by one of the day’s experts, Gerry, who has spent many years researching plants and is currently working on a monograph about the plants in the cemetery. Ushered inside to the warm, I was given a handout detailing eighteen types of trees; all merged into one to my untutored eyes. I chatted with Sally and Claire, who were highly knowledgeable about trees and birds, respectively. Sally’s interest in trees developed following her employment at the cemetery, whereas Claire has had an interest in birds since childhood, thanks to her father.

Out Into The Cold

The tour began with the languorously beautiful weeping ash pair that framed the chapel. These trees were planted to enhance the chapel's design, which they have faithfully done for over a century. They are nearing the end of their life span. Fierce debates are underway as to which is the most suitable replacement for the good of the cemetery in years to come and to form a backdrop for weddings. During 75 minutes we saw everything from Turkey oak to Oriental planes, via ash, elm, elder and everything in between. Claire also identified the sounds of several less common birds for us.

A Little Bit Muddy

We were invited to step off the path at various points to get in the slightly squelchy ground among the trees – this was not a pickled-in aspic tour led from behind wire fences. While Sally ably led the tour and provided details on identifying key features, whether bark or bud position, Gerry provided a broader context and history. Of course, this being a graveyard, there was a glorious yew, which we were gently reminded was wholly toxic to humans.

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A Final Test

Dodging squirrels and the occasional runner, we returned to the chapel for the dreaded test. We were encouraged to handle the long stems numbered on the table, representing 12 key species, all covered during the talk. I confidently identified yew, horse chestnut, hazel and hawthorn, and then my attention span maxed out after about seven guesses, leaving five remaining unidentified. Sally patiently guided me through the remaining five.

Some Wizardry Here

Are any Harry Potter fans reading? Does anyone recall the moment in the first book where Ollivander the wand-maker, says something to the effect of, “The wand chooses the wizard.” I got to experience something similar when Sally placed one particular branch in my hand – it felt so wholly right, and I am sure it would form my wand in a Harry Potter existence. Indeed, I think it does form the wand for at least one character. I shall re-read the whole series from a tree-lore perspective and report back.

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Did 75 Minutes of Tree Talk Work?

A week later, waiting at the bus stop, I looked up, noting that the tall, bare trees marching down the road and clustered opposite were still a mystery to me. Then my eye fell on some unmistakable buds – horse chestnut. Conker cases still litter the ground. I am very familiar with this tree, but now I can decode its bare branches without needing to look down or to have seen the tree in summer. I may not be able to tell my rowan from my field maple yet, but my knowledge and confidence have improved. The trees have lost none of their beauty, for knowing a little more about them.

How To Get Involved

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If you want to have your go at winter twig ID, this sheet from the Woodland Trust is a great place to start.

Sheffield General Cemetery can be found here. They run history tours year-round.

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Exploring Bingley North Bog

Where is Bingley North Bog?

Bingley North Bog is a West Yorkshire wetland located in between the A650 and the impressive Five Rise Locks landmark. According to The Canal and Rivers Trust, the bog was formed around 10,000 years ago as a result of a glacier that covered much of Airedale forming a moraine; a moraine is a collection of sediment that has been deposited downhill by a glacier. Vegetation (plants) in the waterlogged area began to both partially decay and partially preserve, creating the peatland we see at North Bog today. Peat looks a lot like soil but can only be found in the wet, acidic conditions of bogs!

A view out over North Bog

What is special about North Bog?

Bingley North Bog is a particularly important site for many reasons, one of which being its role against climate change. Peatlands are incredible at taking carbon from the air and storing it. Peatlands cover around 3% of the world’s land, yet they store double the amount of carbon as all of the world’s forests by trapping the carbon that living plants had captured from the air. It is because of this that Tim Christopherson from the UN Environment Programme considers them the most essential environment on Earth, in terms of fighting climate change. If North Bog were to degrade and become an unhealthy bog, it could release its stored carbon, and in turn, accelerate global warming.

What does a healthy bog look like?

Bogs in good condition like North Bog, are wet and covered in vegetation. The mix of plants commonly found in bogs creates a ‘rough’ surface which slows the flow of water to towns and villages downhill when it rains. As it is a wetland, Bingley North Bog also helps prevent flooding of communities. Instead of flooding the town and villages, overflow can happen at the bog because there is plenty of space and vegetation that can use the water! This means that North Bog is an essential part of flood prevention in the area. Follow the link to watch a video produced by Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust with further information on this: Natural Flood Management - Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust (ydrt.org.uk)

Wildlife

Bingley North Bog is home to a diverse group of wildlife including dragonflies, damselflies, frogs, toads, insects, bugs and bats to name a few. The Canal and Rivers Trust have identified mallards, herons, white geese, coots, moorhens and kingfishers as birds you might spot around the bog. On top of this, Shaun Radcliffe of Bradford Ornithological Group has spotted blackcaps, chiff-chaffs and reed buntings in the area as well.

Species Profile: Kingfisher

  • Orange breast with an electric blue back
  • Feed on small fish, crayfish, dragonfly larvae and newts
  • High-pitched whistling call
  • Most often found in small rivers but are found around most bodies of water
  • They have been spotted on our volunteer days at Bingley North Bog

What can people do at Bingley North Bog?

Look out for the wildlife, it’s not every day you get to see the wildlife that can be found at North Bog! Try the Bingley five rise locks and canal family walk and keep an eye out for all the wildlife mentioned above. The loop will take you from town past the 5 locks, 3 locks, North Bog, along the canal and back to town again so there is plenty of opportunities to spot some wildlife. There is also a geocaching search set up by the Canal and Rivers Trust that explains aspects of North Bog that create a great habitat for all of the wildlife there. This is a great idea for a family day out!

Volunteer with us!

Every week we organise volunteer days where we run a variety of events such as hedge laying, tree planting and litter picking. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to join in and help us protect the river Aire and surrounding areas. If you want to volunteer with us, register your interest here:

https://aireriverstrust.org.uk/volunteer-with-us/
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