On behalf of the angling club a survey of Gilling Beck was carried out by Professor Jonny Grey of the Wild Trout Trust. Professor Grey is an expert in river management with a wealth of experience on projects large and small throughout the UK. He has written many academic papers on the subject and is involved in ongoing scientific research. Following recommendations in Professors Grey's report and after consultations with the Environment Agency and Skelton and Gilling Estates the club has carried out some habitat improvement work to a small section of the beck downstream of the village. Our aim is to improve the habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures and also to help wildlife and birds. We feel that this is complementary to the work of some local farmers who are creating wildlife meadows and rewilding areas of land close to the beck.
The following article explains the importance of habitat improvement work on becks and streams: Success for trout.
See also: What constitutes a healthy river?.
Installing deflectors, July 2022
Logs have been used as deflectors to alter the flow of water coming down the beck. The change in speed and direction helps to scour the river bed, cleans the gravel and creates variations in depth. They also provide refuge areas for fish, reduce erosion of the bank side, help to oxygenate the water and are populated by invertebrates and other aquatic organisms. The logs are fixed in position using steel reinforcing bars driven into the river bed.
Installing tree kickers, October 2022
Sections of trees and long branches have been tied in along the side of the beck to provide refuge areas for fish. This offers protection from predation and places to go to avoid being swept away during periods of high rainfall.
Water Testing, November 2022
The National Water Monitoring Network was set up by the Angling Trust to provide data on the health of our rivers and streams. The data will be used to put pressure on the government to force water companies to stop discharging raw sewage into rivers. Tests are carried out on a monthly basis above and below the sewage works.
Tree Planting, January 2023
Trees are an essential part of a healthy river system. They provide shade and reduce evaporation in hot weather, the roots stabalize the banks and help reduce erosion. They provide vital habitat for birds, insects and wildlife. Tree roots in the water provide refuge for fish and other creatures. Trees absorb CO2 and produce oxygen. We have planted approximately one hundred trees along Gilling Beck.
Biosecurity Workshop, February 2023
Anglers and members of the local community attended a workshop run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to learn about Invasive Non Native Species that threaten our natural environment. The event was jointly hosted by the Gilling West Fly Fishers and Gilling West Parish Council.
Download the PowerPoint presentation here: Biosecurity
Pollution Disaster, 13th April 2023
Digestate from a farm at Hutton Magna escaped into the water causing the beck to run black for twenty four hours. The result was a total fish kill from the main river at Brompton on Swale all the way to Dalton. It is estimated that as much as fifteen miles of the beck may have been affected. Although the pollution has gone experts predict that it will take many years for the ecology of the beck to return to something like normal. The birds and other wildlife that live in and by the water are also affected especially those that eat the fish and invertebrates normally present. It was heartbreaking collecting all the dead fish. Anglers and local people are appalled at what has happened. Gilling West Fly Fishers are taking stock and looking at what work can be done to speed up the recovery process. We would like to hear from anyone interested in helping. We would also appreciate any donations to our just giving fund.