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, March 05, 2007

Tales From the Riverbank

More Ribbleside photographs, poetry and comments sent in by residents and Ribble-lovers... including a poem from the late 16th century...

The Ribble's silt-laden spate waters at low tide rushing beneath Old Penwortham Bridge by Jabberwocky.
"We could hear the sound of the water as we approached the river and we took our time watching the river and the birds as we always do, and the fresh spring breeze blew the sound of the water over us. It really lifted our spirits out of that usual Monday morning feeling as we crossed the Bridge ..."

This rather impressionistic picture was sent in by Kevin as it's one his son Greg took which he particularly likes. Thanks Kevin and Greg!

Jo N. sent in this one and provided a great caption...

"Steam" by Jo N.

The following poem is a verse from "Polyolbion" by 16th/early 17th century poet Michael Drayton, his poem is a long collection of "songs" celebrating the rivers of England...

River Ribble, from song xxviii

"From Pengent's proud foot as from my source I slide,
That mountain, my proud sire, in height of all his pride,
Takes pleasure in my course as in his first-born flood,
And Ingleborough, too of that Olympian brood,
With Pendle, of the north, the highest hills that be,
Do wistly me behold, and are beheld of me."

Polyolbion - Michael Drayton (1563-1631)

A few years ago, after seeing this poem, the Ribble Basin Campaign held a competition to find a new poem for the River Ribble in the new Millennium. They got a fantastic response and have sent in the winning poem (by Tom Hicks) and the 3 runners up.

River Ribble - Pride of the Counties
by Tom Hicks

"Steep rise the hills above the lush valley,
Verdant the meadows luxuriant below
Fed by the waters that eddy and sally,
Ere to the seas they, meandering, flow.
Borne from the heights with progression erratic,
Held in a pool or cast down in a fall,
Calm in a shallow, cascading, dramatic,
Calling, enthralling to us one and all.

Old as the hills given birth by creation
Ever inviting for work and for play
Sought by the homestead in each generation,
Sought by the traveller to pleasure his way.
Chosen by Rome as a site for the Legion
Raising the ensign and building the camp,
Ribchester Ribble defending the region,
High flew the eagle and bright shone the lamp.

Norsemen and Scotsmen all claimed you as bounty,
Cuerdale and Clitheroe nourished them well;
Fair River Ribble the pride of the county,
Lancashire truly but Yorkshire as well!
Whatever preference your colour of roses,
Contrast or complement, both stand the test,
Both add their virtues to all that composes
Our sweet flowing river, the brightest and best.

Pendle looks down with its coven of witches
Hanggliding broomstickwise o'er waters cool
Loving your snaking and sensuous riches,
Glad there's no sight of the feared ducking stool!
Fishermen sit at your side by the hour
Coaxing, cajoling the fish from the stream,
Weighing, returning the catch to your power,
Watching for bubbles or sun's dappled gleam.

Merchantmen sailed with their cargoes to Preston
Bearing bananas and barley and coal,
Timber that businessmen risked all their best on
Bringing employment with profit the goal.
Gone now the warehouses; ships sail no longer
Gliding up river through fields flat and green;
Sails of the yachts fill as breezes blow stronger
Bringing new thrills and new joys to the scene.

Out flows the river 'twixt Southport and Lytham
Conscious the journey will shortly be through,
Meeting and sharing the sea's tidal rhythm,
Backward to landfall, out into the blue.
Dear to our hearts are your manifold beauties,
Jaded? We come for release to your banks,
Seeking refreshment from life's toils and duties,
Finding sweet peace, praising God, giving thanks."

People of the Ribble
by Mary Hodges

"Rippling Ribble ribbon linking fells and sea
I stand on your banks, gaze at the scene
Is all of this splendour for me?

Roman Centurion in Ribchester

Rushing northern river
Brushing by Bremetennacum
Speeding your way to the sea.
When my allotted tasks are done
I come and watch the roaring waters
In the chill British rain.
And long and yearn for Rome
Would this were the Tiber
By my dear ancestral home.
The river roars and ripples
Links the mountains to the sea
I stand on the bank, surveying the scene
But the grandeur is wasted on me.

Monk at Sawley Abbey

Silently I pace beside the river
Telling my beads and soothing my soul
The stillness, the calm, the peace of this river
Heal and refresh, renew and make whole.
Life is a river rippling and rushing
Pushing us onward into the fray
Or stilling our fretfulness calming our terrors
Wiping our tears and our fears away.

Rippling Ribble ribbon linking fells and sea
I stand on your banks, gaze at the scene
Did God give this splendour to me?

Preston Merchant

I count the cargoes, a river of gold
Flowing into Preston,
Prosperous Preston, guilded with guile
Trade made possible by the Ribble
Ships from far away slide into dock.
I rub my hands with glee
All this merchandise and trade
A promise of wealth for me.

Rippling Ribble, ribbon linking fells and sea
I stand on your banks, gaze at the scene
Is all of this profit for me?

Upland Sheepfarmer

I stand by the river and gaze at the scene
Bleak and cold and chill
The ewes and their lambs bleat thinly
In the sleet on the side of the hill.
I look at the river and wonder
How long I can keep up the pace
As down and down goes the price my lambs
Will fetch in the market place.

Rippling Ribble ribbon linking fells and sea
I stand on your banks, gaze at the scene
And I know I shall never be free
From ties that bind me to farm and flock
The splendour that holds me in thrall
Away from the Ribble cut off from its stream
For me there'd be no life at all.


We come at last to Waddington
I sit by the river, remove my boots
Examine my feet before I bother with the view
A seat in the garden, the heat of the sun
Warm on my arms, I watch the river.
The rippling Ribble, with flower-filled gardens
Shady trees, a quiet village straight from a story-book.
I close my eyes and sigh for the simple delight of it.

Rippling Ribble ribbon linking fells and sea
I sit by your bank, gaze at the scene
Is all of this beauty for me?"

Wild and Free
by Barbara Eastham

"From the gentle Yorkshire Dales
By limestone crag and hardy sheep,
Her sparkling countenance reflects
Fine Roman walls, a Norman keep.

She flows through changing landscape
Ancient hamlets, leafy lanes,
Seeking out historic buildings
Market towns and fertile plains.

Lost within her swirling waters
Relics lie by bridge and ford,
Gone forever without trace
Fine helmets, pistols, staffs and sword.

She casts a silver thread through land
Where Cromwell paused, in thought.
Her fragile banks ran red with blood
As the Civil War was fought.

Tumbling over mossy stones
She sings her song in Ribblesdale
As Cormorants rob the angler
And graceful Herons tread the shale

Forming a beautiful tapestry
She weaves her charms to the sea
A perpetual vision in motion
The River Ribble - wild and free!"

River Ribble (Another Millennium I want to see!)
by Mildred Smith

"Rising from my source at Newby Head Moss,
I spring into existence and take up my cause.
Bubbling along with water clean and pure,
By heather-laden hills - my future is secure.
Life and hope to creatures I bring,
'Environmentally Friendly', is the song that I sing.

'Ribbling' along - I'm enriched by the Hodder,
I appreciate her contribution of soft, sparkling water.
Bird life in abundance - the heron with in-built spear,
Beautiful regal kingfishers - their aims very clear.
Leaping, greeting salmon - such a joy to behold,
Everyone - please care for me - I'm worth much more than gold!

Running with pride through the Ribble Valley,
Initiative is needed if people are to rally.
Bringing together folks who will walk by my side,
Bewicks's swans, pink-footed geese too - that in my estuary abide.

Learn to plan for biodiversity -
Educating all to watch for me - Another Millennium I want to see!"

Thanks to all contributors - keep sending in your fantastic pictures, poetry and comments to

Click here for more Tales From The Riverbank, and check out what the Ribble is up to at The Ribble Cycle Diaries...


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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