Salmon in the Yorkshire Dales
The major rivers of the Yorkshire Dales run via the Ouse into the Humber, reaching the North Sea at Spurn Head. The Ouse is one of the UK's great river systems. 50 years ago salmon were declared extinct in the Ouse as a result of the effects of industrial pollution in the lower reaches. Yet before World War I when my grandfather was growing up in Wensleydale this beautiful and iconic fish was plentiful throughout the Yorkshire Dales.
Today that pollution has been dramatically reduced and salmon are once again able to run the Ouse and on up into the Dales. But the process is fragile and will benefit greatly from our intervention. Only 2% of salmon survive from birth to emigration, and the margins between success and failure are tiny. Small things make big differences. We need to remove obstacles that prevent access to the small streams where they spawn; protect nursery areas against the risks of livestock intrusion; and enhance the river environment. These are the objectives of the Ure Salmon Group of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, the parent charity that exists to protect and improve our rivers. All of this work costs money, but the YDRT already has many demands on its funds. So any extra money that you give will have a direct benefit for the rivers' environment. Reaching my target of £3,500 would pay for opening up two spawning tributaries and fencing their most vulnerable areas.
The Ure Salmon Run
The Ure is a major tributary of the Ouse, which rises at the head of Wensleydale and runs to Boroughbridge above York. My grandfather who enthused me with his interest in the natural world and fishing was born and raised in the Wensleydale village of Askrigg, where his father was the village policeman. Today I fish the same river as he did 120 years ago and rejoice in the return of its beautiful silver salmon.
To raise funds and to celebrate this triumph of nature, at the end of June I shall cycle the 100 miles from the Humber Bridge to Aysgarth Falls, following the line of the river and the salmon's migration. As an OAP I'm not very fast: the ride should take about 8 hours' pedalling, depending on the wind. Needless to say, it's uphill all the way!
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