Wednesday 21 September 2011

If Carlsberg Made Rivers ....

I stumbled upon this gem yesterday :)
and, indeed, why not celebrate the River Avon 
and its long history of navigation

Thursday 16 June 2011

The Tide has Gone out at Royalty Fisheries

Paddling on the tidal stretches of the Avon has never been contested and a number of local canoe clubs and outdoor centres enjoy the quiet tranquil upper stretches of the tidal Avon on a regular basis. The tidal limit is clearly demarked on Ordnance Survey maps and lies three to four hundred meters above the A35 bridge at Christchurch. Indeed, up until very recently Royalty Fisheries used to have signage at this point marking the line at SZ 157933 (above). They even had a line strung across the river here at one point!

Southern Fisheries Ltd, a commercial organisation based in Tunbridge Wells has long leasehold interest on the entire Royalty Fisheries at Christchurch

This company seems to be waging a campaign against canoeists paddling on the Avon, both the tidal and non-tidal stretches. They seem to be playing an environmental card to safeguard their commercial interests claiming that canoeing causes damage to the SSSI, SAC and RAMSAR site. It appears that this action is independent of Natural England and that they have enlisted the police to evict canoeists from the river on two occasions in May 2011. I believe, during this time, others have received a number of threatening calls from someone attesting that no canoeing is to be permitted above the Priory at Christchurch (approximately 1 km downstream of the tidal limit)

Perhaps not coincidentally, The old sign (above) has been removed and 5 new signs adorn the banks - before and around the A35 bridge, downstream.

 Ugly, Depressing, Illegitimate, Threatening
Has the tide gone out at Christchurch? :)

Monday 14 February 2011

Caffyn on Rivers

In 2007, the Rev'd Douglas Caffyn wrote a paper arguing that there is a Right of Navigation on the River Avon by virtue of Statute, Historic Use and Dedication. 

The University of Sussex has awarded Douglas a Doctor of Philosophy degree for his subsequent thesis to establish the extent of river transportation in the period 1189 - 1600. He has now published this thesis, together with his earlier work “The Right of Navigation on Non-tidal waters and the Common Law“ These, together with a more accesible booklet titled "Boats on our Rivers Again" are available at

Douglas Caffyn has concluded in his opinion that:- 
  1. From 1189 to 1600 there was a public right of navigation on all rivers which were physically usable.
  2. Rivers were more navigable in the period 1189 to 1600 than they are now.
  3. A right of navigation can only be extinguished by statute, statutory authority or the section of river becoming un-navigable.
  4. There is, therefore, a public right of navigation on all unregulated rivers which are physically usable.
This is clearly a significant contribution to the access debate and a presumption in favour of  public access to inland waters nationally

Please note, however, that in the case of the River Avon there are additional factors that support the right of navigation, as discussed in the original paper  

Wednesday 15 December 2010

An Avon micro hydro-electric power scheme

A kayaker negotiates the weir at Burgate, near Fordingbridge
Mr. Pritchard of Kingfisher Cottage near Burgate, Fordingbridge – has applied for planning permission for the Installation of a micro hydro-electric power scheme

The details of the proposals and application can be viewed here:-

The proposed location is at the overspill weir and sluices of a former mill race near Burgate. Here the millrace takes a minority of the Avon’s flow on a southward course, while the remaining (majority) flow passes eastward over a weir and its sluices (pictured above).

The proposal is to site an array of Archimedean screw turbines in a new channel cut immediately north (upstream) of the weir, thus diverting the Avon down to the weir pool and bypassing the original weir itself

I have read through the detailed proposals and applaud Mr. Pritchard for the vision of harnessing alternative power in this way - every opportunity to secure energy through environmentally sustainable and ‘green’ means must be encouraged.

I was, however, surprised and disappointed that the otherwise comprehensive documentation concerning the impact of the proposals (on hydrology, habitat, landscape, fisheries, etc.) failed to consider any possible impact on navigation.

There is a public right of navigation on the River Avon from Salisbury to the Sea by virtue of both the Statute of 1664 and by historic use. This is quite apart from the national arguments concerning The Right of Navigation on Non-tidal Rivers and the Common Law. (All discussed elsewhere on this site). Landowners who obstruct such passage have a duty to provide a safe portage route

As far as I am able to determine from the documents the only effects that the scheme is likely have for navigation concern reduced water flow over the existing weir and a footbridge over the top of the weir. It is likely that the weir will need to be portaged. Consequently, provision should be made, within the design, to secure an adequate and safe portage route or an alternative route for canoes etc. is considered.

The scheme design incorporates the construction of two additional side channels to southwestern end of turbine chambers - One would incorporate a sluice which would be manually opened to allow floating debris to pass on downstream or to act as a flood relief bypass. In the other, an inclined concrete bed would be formed on which an approved design of Larinier fishpass would be mounted.

Perhaps the design could be modified to allow passage for small water craft, such as canoes and kayaks, along one of these channels. Such modifications in design are likely to prove both practicable and comparatively inexpensive and will mitigate the schemes otherwise negative impact on navigation

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Downton To Fordingbridge

The Avon, from Castle Hill, looking North towards Woodgreen

The beautiful stretch of river from South Charford to Fordingbridge remains to be documented on this website.

Here, the river meanders though the mill at Breamore, past the escarpment that rises to Godshill enclosure, then west to the A338 at Burgate, back South East through Sandy Balls holiday park and, West again, through Fordingbridge. 

The Avon at Fordingbridge historically played a central role in the life of the town community, and hosted the annual 'Hampshire Henley' regatta.

Today, very few are provided the opportunity to experience the tranquility, beauty and wildlife of the river. 

Saturday 24 July 2010

Living River Survey

The Living River was a £1 million Heritage Lottery funded project that will involve people throughout the River Avon catchment with the conservation of its natural heritage

One of the projects aims was to enhance information and access to the river at over 40 sites across the catchment, working with the communities that live there

For more information about the Living River Project look at a previous post: Here

An online survey, is currently being conducted (by Audiences South) on behalf of the Living River Project. This will inform the final phase of this Natural England programme.

If you are a canoeist, it is very doubtful that you have been affected by the procect - and you certainly won't have benefitted from it - their idea of 'access' is very different from your own.

However, the survey only takes a few minutes to complete and there is a comments section at the end where you can make your own feelings know.

They are wanting as many returns as possible by the 6th of August, but it can still be returned after that date.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Environment Agency - River Levels on-line

The Environment Agency have launched a new rivers and sea levels on line service: here

The website will include information from 1756 monitoring stations across England and Wales. This will be updated daily and in some cases, when water levels are high, more regularly.

This free service will help people who live in flood warning areas make more informed decisions, as well as being useful for recreational river users like anglers and boaters.

Below shows a screen shot of the tool.