Over the Bank Holiday weekend, a member of Midland Canoe Club (MCC), based in Darley Abbey, organised a “60 minute challenge” with her fellow paddlers to clean up the River Derwent. The event was a celebration of her 60th birthday. Paddlers from MCC took to the water and cleared large sections of the river from the toll bridge in Darley Abbey, just above the weir, up to the A38 flyover near Ford Lane. She also joined the Facebook groups Spotted Darley Abbey and Darley and Nutwood Nature Reserve and asked for local volunteers to support the clean-up. Several members of the local community and the nearby Earl of Harrington’s Angling Club duly obliged and in a true show of community spirit walked the banks collecting litter whilst MCC members, working from canoes and kayaks, cleared rubbish in and around the river’s edge.
Along the way the walkers and paddlers picked up pieces of plastic and paper that were caught in trees and branches, traffic cones that had somehow found their way into the river (no doubt from the severe flooding), several tyres as well as a plastic pallet and assorted other items. The items, now bagged up, are currently awaiting collection by the City Council who are always helpful when these events take place.
This stretch of the Derwent is home to a wide variety of wildlife and along the route you will almost always find geese, swans, ducks, kingfishers, buzzards, herons, sand martins and mink. If you are very lucky you may even see the elusive otters! In addition, there is the usual array of farm animals including lambs that frolic in the spring and piebald pigs that love to laze around in the summer sun. One find that took everyone by surprise though was the discovery of Brook Lamprey. They were uncovered in some tyres by the youngsters from MCC’s Paddle Power group. On close inspection these river predators could give you nightmares, but they are harmless to humans.
This event was not the first time that MCC has organised or taken part in a river clean-up, but the support of the local community from Darley Abbey will certainly be welcomed again in any future events. Our local river is thriving and we need to look after it in any way we can if it is to keep on thriving, even if that’s just taking away one piece of rubbish each.