Tag Archives: River Wear

Lampreys return to North East England as water quality improves

A species  of rare and protected fish has been spotted in the region’s rivers following improvements in river water quality.

The Environment Agency, working with local angling groups and Natural England, has been surveying North-East rivers searching for Lamprey.

So far one spawning site on the River Wear and a total of 20 adult sea lampreys have been counted.

In North Yorkshire, Natural England has a project underway in search for sea lampreys on the River Ouse.

River and sea lampreys are also expected to return to spawning grounds on the lower River Wharfe, Swale, Nidd and Ure.

Experts say the rare, jawless fish are a good indication of the high quality of the river water and scientists are continuing to search for more lampreys on the Wear and the Ouse river catchments.

Paul Frear, Environment Agency fisheries officer, said:

“We welcome the return of the lampreys back to Yorkshire and the North East. The lampreys are like swallows. They return to the same spot to spawn within the same few days every year.

“These illusive fish are extremely selective with their spawning sites and will only nest where the water quality is good. Their appearance is a ringing endorsement of the water quality in these areas.”

Scientists say lamprey are extremely unusual. The most primitive fish in the world, it uses its mouth like a suction-cup to attach itself to the skin of a fish and rasp away tissue with its sharp probing tongue and teeth.

They outwardly resemble eels because they have no scales and an adult lamprey can range anywhere from 13cm to 100cm. They have large eyes, one nostril on the top of their heads, and seven gill pores on each side.

Claire Horseman, from Natural England, said:

 “We are hoping that the lamprey projects being undertaken by Natural England and the Environment Agency will help us better understand the migratory behaviour of these primitive species and the challenges that they face along their migratory route. With this increased understanding we can work towards restoring lamprey populations to their former status.”

During the Middle Ages lampreys were widely eaten by the upper classes throughout Europe, especially during fasting periods, because their taste is much meatier than that of other fish.

The deaths of two English kings,  Henry I and John, are said to have been from overindulging on the fish.

Source ; http://northstar.boards.net/thread/218/lamprey-return-region-quality-improves

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Viking rowing boat to launch at Whitburn beach

An environmentalist’s dream of launching a Viking rowing boat is to become a reality next weekend.

Bob Latimer commissioned Northumberland boat -builders to construct a traditional St Ayles skiff, a wooden rowing boat designed to hold six people.

Work is now complete and the vessel – the Latimer Ledja – is to be officially launched on Sunday 12 July, from 11am at Whitburn beach.

Mr Latimer, from Whitburn, said:

“Barring bad weather, the launch will take place on Sunday so we’re hoping for a good day. We’ve invited another skiff from Amble to come along on the day.

“After the launch, from 12.30pm to 1pm, we’re planning a half hour ‘have a go’ sessions, when new ‘skiffies’ will be welcome to have a row.”

Between 1pm and 3pm on Sunday there will be a ‘social row’ into the River Wear or north towards Souter Lighthouse and Marsden Rock, after which pasties and cakes will be served.

The Ledja has been made at Boulmer near Alnwick, Northumberland, by fisherman Jeff Matthews and volunteer Ray Angus.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/180/viking-rowing-launch-whitburn-beach

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Binchester Roman Town bought by the Auckland Castle Trust for £2m

A Roman site dubbed the Pompeii of the North has been bought for £2m, allaying fears for its future.

The Binchester Roman Town, where archeologists unearthed artefacts dating back 1,800 years, has been bought by the Auckland Castle Trust.

The Church Commissioners have accepted a £2m bid for the site, having originally rejected it.

Trust bosses had launched a petition urging the commissioners to accept the bid, which 4,000 people signed.

The trust had feared that the commissioners’ plans to sell the site in two lots could have made it harder to preserve the fort and ensure there is public access to it, but have now spoken of saving it for the nation in its entirety.

The fort, on the banks of the River Wear in County Durham, on the outskirts of Bishop Auckland, a mile from Auckland Castle, hit the international headlines in the summer when it was revealed archaeologists had uncovered some of the most exciting historical finds in living memory.

The commissioners then announced plans to sell it in two lots. While the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and can’t be built on, one plot includes Binchester Hall and has planning permission for conversion and development, while the second includes 50% of the Roman remains.

The trust launched an 11th hour bid to buy the site for £2m, ahead of a tender deadline today, Monday.

Bosses feared that if it was split between two owners it could open the risk for surrounding development, curtail public access and see the end of years of academic research. The organisation argued that bringing both plots under its wing would safeguard future access and research.

Its initial bid was rejected, sparking the e-petition which 4,000 signed. And now, the commissioners have accepted the original bid.

Dr Chris Ferguson, Auckland Castle’s head curator, said:

“This is wonderful news and we are delighted that Binchester will now be protected for future generations.

“Contracts still have to be exchanged, but the Auckland Castle Trust has successfully come through the tender process as the preferred bidder and now we can start to look to the future of this vitally important site and ensure its past and status as one of not just Britain’s but Europe’s most important Roman sites is secured.

“Here at Auckland Castle we have been thrilled by the goodwill and support we have received as we strove to raise awareness about Binchester.

“Our first priorities are to secure the site for the winter, work with Durham County Council and English Heritage to help shape Binchester’s future and to start pulling together plans to ensure the Roman remains continue to be available for archaeologists and the public to enjoy for generations to come.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  23 Sept 2014

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Wishing Well, Cox Green

 

A mossy grotto alongside the south bank riverside path a little way east of Cox Green, a hamlet on the River Wear, about 5 miles out of Sunderland. Water drips from the roof and walls, forms pools on the floor.

I call it the Wishing Well because I came across reference to it by that name in someone’s memoirs of the 1930s published in the local paper. Its not otherwise refered to in any source that I’ve yet found, though maybe for others it has significance – on one visit I found a carefully constructed daisy-chain floating in the pool.

It’s really a well under threat – the roof of the grotto seems to consist entirely oif soil, held together by the roots of the trees growing on the bank above. Sooner or later the elements will conspire to bring the whole lot down, and the grotto will be gone, or at best extremely truncated.

Oh, and it works !

I presented a silver coin to the well spirit, made my wish (I wont divulge its nature) and within an hour my wish had been granted.

 

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