From the Anglo Saxon ‘Sualuae’ meaning rapid and liable to deluge. Reputedly the fastest flowing river in England, it falls 148m over 32km from Muker to Richmond falls. 40 years ago, spate events took 3 days to build up and 3 days to run off. Now the river can rise 3m in 20 minutes and cause a bore similar to that on the Severn.
Problem: Flash Flooding.
Solution: Sensitive moorland management.
The fells, moors and the tributaries that drain them, create the unique character of upper Wensleydale. Extensive drainage of these upland areas in the ‘60s has destroyed the natural sponge and reservoir of the peat moors contributing to the present flashy spate river flows. Sustainable catchment management needs to ensure that the users of the dales resources do not damage them for the future. The Ure is not just a natural corridor for water, but also supports riverine vegetation and the wildlife that depends on it.
Problem: Point and diffuse pollution, bank erosion and siltation.
Solution: Sympathetic catchment management in all its aspects.
Just 90km long, the Nidd comes off the acid moorland near Great Whernside, 595m above sea level. It is heavily abstracted at Angram and Scar House reservoirs and lower down compensation flows are released from Gouthwaite reservoir. The classic pool and riffle upper reaches support good stocks of Brown trout and Grayling.
Problems: The industrial past has left numerous weirs that are impassable to migrating fish, bank erosion is serious in places and much of the upstream river bank is dominated by Alder. The rapidly spreading Himalayan Balsam is smothering the natural vegetation.
Solutions: Fish passes and management of the Alder and Balsam.
Rising off Carboniferous limestone close to Ribblehead, it joins the Ouse near Rhythor 130km further on. The river flows swiftly through pasture land, but the last 16km below Tadcaster are tidal with a gentler flow. Here the river is more typical of a lowland river where flood embankments protect adjacent land. The river is enjoyed by tourists and is important to the economy of the area. At Bolton Abbey careful management has ensured that tourism does not conflict with conservation interests. There are 40 SSSIs in the catchment.
Problem: Upland drainage, effluent and pressures of tourism.
Solution: Sensitive catchment management