There is great news for Britain’s urban rivers – and anyone who likes to walk and spot wildlife – as new research reveals that they have more insect life. This is promising because the trend historically has been for decreasing stocks of invertebrates.
The research, one of the largest studies of national trends in river health ever undertaken, shows that rivers in and around urban places in the UK are much more likely to be havens for insects such as mayflies and stoneflies.
On average the numbers of insects has increased by 20%, according to the study published in the journal Global Change Biology.
The researchers from the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University reckon industrial decline, tighter regulation and improved wastewater treatment over recent decades has contributed to the improvement.
And while we might not all like lots of insects, these creatures are responsible for increasing wildlife in rivers and on river banks, which has to be good news for people who enjoy messing about on the rivers or walking nearby.
A spokesperson said: “These important results show how benefits to river biodiversity—the huge array of species that live in our rivers—have arisen from investment and long-term restoration intended largely for other ‘river ecosystem services’ such as drinking water and sanitation.
“This is great news for our rivers and also for the many people who live, work and play along their banks everywhere from Burnley to the Black Country or from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff.”
Great walks near UK rivers
Get your walking boots at the ready - here's some of the best river walks to visit across the UK.
Lake District National Park
A lovely stroll along the River Eden. There are six long-distance walks passing through the town of Kirkby Stephen, including Wainwright's famous coast-to-coast walk.
See: Eden in Cumbria
The Nene Way
This delightful walk heads along the River Nene via peaceful Northamptonshire countryside. You’ll be tracing the steps of Darling Buds of May writer H E Bates and Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame.
You’ll needs lots of energy for this one, but it’s well worth the rewards. The 55-mile route follows the Derwent through the Peak District National Park.
The Speyside Way
Following the second longest Scottish river, the Spey, this long-distance walk heads from Spey Bay, on the Moray coast, to the outdoors Highlands town of Aviemore. Walk over a week or split into lots of day walks.
See: Speyside Way
River Stour and Dedham Vale
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dedham Vale has been immortalised by the paintings of John Constable. There are lots of shorter walks, and also the longer-distance Essex Way and the Stour Valley Way in the area.
See: Deham Vale
Pulteney Bridge, Bath
Stroll down the wonderfully elegant Pulteney Street, and through the delightful Sydney Gardens Park, to the Kennet and Avon canal. Follow the Avon upstream to Pulteney Bridge and the horseshoe Falls.
The Clyde Walkway
Heading for 40 miles from Partick in Glasgow and New Lanark in South Lanarkshire, and a chance to see the amazing New Lanark waterfalls. This is a great walkways for dividing up into shorter walks. It’s easily accessible by road and public transport. In Glasgow you could pop into the new Riverside Transport Museum, see picture above, located on the banks of the Clyde.
See: Clyde Walk Way
This amazingly long bridge makes a great walk.
See: Visit Lincolnshire
Tell us about other river walks that you enjoy.