River Wissey Lovell Fuller


June 2010

Ivor reports on the destrcution of the natural landscape of the River Wissey

There was something seriously wrong - alarm bells sounded! Although it was several months ago the picture is still vivid. I was standing alongside the dear old river Wissey and all was different!

The day had started normally. It was fine and bright despite a cold bite around the ears. The forecast was dry and the snow and ice were fast becoming a memory. It was much too early in the year for gardening so a visit to the river seemed like a good idea. Mother Nature seldom sleeps, even during the winter, and there is always something new and interesting to see and enjoy. So off I went to have a look.

Alas there it was - a completely new landscape. It was startling and not in the least imaginable. The view across the narrow stretch of water had gone. The geography had changed. What on earth had happened? This was my refuge, one of my favourite places where I had spent hundreds of hours and now everything familiar was missing. I stood agog in disbelief.

From this very spot I have watched numerous flights of wildfowl taking off and landing. This is the favoured place of the canadian geese who provide a non stop backdrop of chatter and clatter. This is where the resident heron is seen wading in the opposite shallows and where the kingfishers flash up and down. Come the summer here the bird filled hedges will sing away all day. This is where the always to be remembered whiskered head of an otter was spotted diving and frolicking. Without question it was a haven of everything special and familiar to a beautiful river in the middle of no-where.

Now it was changed. Instead the normal peace and quiet was shattered by the noise of a loud diesel engine and the entire bank on the opposite side of the river was now a blank straight line. Gone were the trees and bushes and long stretches of thick reed-beds. Instead a bright yellow machine with hooligan intent and a destructive mechanical arm was pulling up everything in its path! Left in its wake was just a void. Bonfires smoked away at intervals destroying the evidence of years upon years of precious growth.

Even now the purpose of the destruction is unknown. Navigation is still as before. Adjacent fields are far enough away to enjoy no benefit. No gain has been achieved - instead the powers of some meaningless authority had merely decided to spend a week or more clearing either side of a lonely, seldom used footpath. The path, miles away from anywhere, along the top of the riverbank still remains but now any of the infrequent walkers will enjoy an uninterrupted view of lots of absolute nothing!

What about the wildlife who lived there. Would not the inevitable large cost have been far better spent on a million and one other things? Lots of questions are prompted but for sure common sense has gone to pot! Agreed myself and a handful of other fishermen can easily find other similar places only a few hundred yards upstream and downstream and carry on enjoying our passion. Our fur and feather friends will no doubt also just move along and in months to come will have forgetten the enforced change. Perhaps there are more important things to complain about than daft bureaucracy and its big machine but for me it strongly endorses the need to find and treasure such a special hideaway to merely distance oneself from this completely strange and unpredictable world!

By Ivor Hook

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