Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cycling the Ribble Way - The Fish and The Terrapin

It was the first sunday of Autumn and we had planned a trip downriver from Middleforth to the Fish at Longton Marsh, cycling as far as we could get then walking the rest of the way past the marshes between the Ribble and the Douglas at Hutton and Longton. We were also hoping to see the tidal bore again as we had at Freckleton in the Spring!
We make this day-long trip to the Fish (the Dolphin) every summer if we can, and when we're feeling brave, in the winter occasionally too.

It was our last chance for the summer months, but the weather had other ideas...


The birds were feeding on the Broadgate mudflats as soon as the out-going tide exposed these rich and glistening feeding grounds.

The weather forecast was for cloudy with sunny spells, chance of occasional showers, but the over-cast sky was looking ominous...


Looking towards Liverpool Road Bridge as the tide recedes further. Light rain starts to fall...

We cycle on through Penwortham Holme where the first sunday soccer games were getting under way, over Liverpool Road and towards Priory Park, the allotments already busy with holders gathering the veg for sunday lunch.

We cycle through Priory Park and past the power station (on what used to be Penwortham Marsh before the land here was drained and the river's direction was changed to one side of Penwortham Holme - which used to be an island), and by now we were enduring torrential rain, and thunder and lightening for good measure.
Within minutes we were all soaked to the skin: adults, children, and dogs.

The Fish was clearly off the menu, and we turned back home.

By the time we had dried ourselves, unpacked our rucksacks and saddlebags, and had a comforting cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit (or three), the rain-clouds had gone and the sun was shining, so we intrepid cyclists turned our spokes upriver and cycled along the Ribble Way towards Salmsbury.

Lots of local people were out walking or cycling with dogs and children - and just themselves - on what was now a warm sunday afternoon.


A crystal clear view towards Pendle Hill as we cross the Old Tram Bridge at low tide.


There are a fair number of Goosander on the Ribble - competing with the fishing! - and we were not at all surprised to see a number of these attractive birds lounging around on the exposed rocks between their dives for fish at Walton le Dale... although we were very surprised by another sunbather we encountered much later in the afternoon...


The woodlands of Fishwick Bottoms run right through to Brockholes and beyond, still pretty much in their full Summer green although there are one or two tinges of red just beginning to show...


The Ribble Way heading upriver from Fishwick Bottoms.


It's a truly glorious afternoon, and the birds are singing in the hedgerows, which echo the Ribble as they meander their own way across this spectacular river valley.


Hedgerows full of birds singing and chattering...

Eventually we rejoin the Ribble, meandering her ancient way through the plains...


...from the North East and Yorkshire...
...towards the sea...


Here, just before Mellings Wood, we see a truly unexpected bit of wildlife...

An alien invader - a Terrapin - presumably an unwanted pet dumped into the Ribble, but quite happily sunning himself on the rocks, unconcerned about the stir he is causing...


The Terrapin is the centre of attention for quite a while.

We eventually cycle on, through Mellings Wood and towards Lower Brockholes, before stopping and spending a happy and relaxing hour or two on the shingle beach opposite Cuerdale Hall, just short of the A59 and M6, far enough away for the noise of the traffic to be secondary to the birds singing and the Ribble plashing on her way, her banks dotted with local people fishing, or just relaxing in this harmonious landscape.


There are a broad range of riverbank habitats and plant-life on the Ribble - albeit steadily invaded by that other alien species, Himalyan Balsam - so we happily pulled up several Balsam plants to allow the natural vegetation space to breathe.


There are Sandmartin homes in the riverbank here, and quite possible Water Voles too as we caught sight of a little furry creature who unfortunately plopped out of sight into the water and was gone before we could get a good look!

We eventually dragged ourselves away from this idyll to head for home and the usual sunday night chores, but had the pleasure of cycling all the way back through this beautiful river valley, reaching the Old Tram Bridge at Avenham and Miller Parks in time for the glory of a golden sunset.


If you have any Ribble Tales, contact savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

The Preston Society have a talk tonight on Lancashire Wildlife, at St.Mary's Hall, top of Cop Lane, Penwortham at 7.30.
See the Preston Society link on "Blogs We Like" for more details of this and other talks on Birdwatching and Natural History at The Preston Society.

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"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart" Tanako Shozo Save The Ribble Logo