It’s a case of weir today and gone tomorrow! As you will see from the pictures below, Darvel’s crumbling weir has now been demolished.

The new run into the old weir pool. This looks great (from both a conservation and an angling perspective)

What remains of the weir on the right bank will help to stabilise it

To say this was a Darvel Weir is perhaps misleading as it was located between Newmilns and Darvel forming the boundary between the two town’s angling club waters. I don’t suppose it matters anyway as it has now been demolished and no longer poses a health and safety risk to anyone. SEPA allowed Lanfine Estate to demolish the weir after it became undermined a couple of weeks ago and there was a serious risk that someone could become trapped and drown under the ‘bridge’ type structure that remained. See older posts for photos of the dam soon after it became undermined.

 

Going down for the third time. Only when he surfaced did I realise he was in trouble

When I visited the weir this evening to see the final results, a young man was pushed into the water and nearly drowned. His friend thought he could swim, so was just having a laugh but things rapidly took a turn for the worse when his head bobbed under for the second or third time (it was only when I saw the look on his face as he surfaced that I realised this was serious).

As I  was turning towards the van for a lifejacket, he managed to find a footing and clambered out. I was relieved as I though I was just about to get wet! He sat down, exhausted and obviously in shock for about 5 minutes as his friend laughed it all off. I suggested he should go for swimming lessons to which he relpied ” I can swim, but I couldn’t because it was so cold!” I think this is a lesson for us all, especially those wading. Splash out on a lifejacket, it may just save you one day. Just imagine if this had happened above the old weir yesterday. Well done to all involved for getting rid of  it so quickly.

Once the next big spate redistributes the loose substrates, it will be interesting to see things develop and how angling improves in the area. I’ve no doubt that this will be a significant improvement for the fish that will have free movement to their spawning grounds. Next weir upstream is the weir upstream of Ranoldcoup Park which is a different kettle of fish altogether. Perhaps we should try once again to do something with the fish pass there.

Jimmy Mair from Darvel sent me this photo of the machine in action. I wish I'd been there to see this happen.

Back on his feet after thrashing and splashing his way to the bank....doggy style

 

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3 Responses to Darvel Weir? Wot weir?

  1. Dear All,

    I thought the local name is Newmilns Dam, while the gigantic wall beyond Ranoldoup Bridge is Darvel Dam (well actually, some older people call the bend in the
    Gower Water/’Little Irvine’ which meets the A71 between Priestland and Darvel as “Darvel Dam” (there was a mill there)).

    Anyway . . .

    For information on things done to the dam/weir above Ranoldcoup Bridge and how the system, lade and fish pass worked, I suggest you speak to Hugh Hendry of Middlefield Farm, Newmilns, who was involved in work there a long time ago. He might have some useful comments.

    Yes, I am glad the Newmilns/Darvel dam/Weir is gone!

    There seem to be constant removals and movements of stone/boulders along the Darvel Waterslap, with the materials being put on the bankside, and pools being formed. Is this necessary? Is the Darvel Fishing Club doing this? Do young and older fish and invertebrate larvae not get squashed or wounded?

    I was up at the Bankside Rigg Windfarm site a couple of weeks ago, walking from Burnhead Farm up into the forest. What an awful mess the roadworks are making to the moorland, and there are enormous effects on the Avon Water and all the other burns: the “mitigation” is not working sufficiently and sediment is rushing into the waterways at every shower. Is SEPA keeping an eye on it?

    As my colleague remarked, there is so much development and disturbance in the countryside at the moment, it is being thoroughly urbanised.
    Yours sincerely,
    Ruth T.

    • Ruth,
      thanks for the comments and they are well made too.
      Gravel and cobbles are still being extracted from the river and this isn’t good and should only be done under a CAR Licence. Regarding the boulder movements, I did speak to a club member about this and was told it had been done some time ago. I’ve been asked to speak at a club meeting soon and will reemphasis that this kind of activity is no longer PC or acceptable.
      On to the Darvel Dam… we commissioned a report from Mike Beech on the weir and fish pass in order to identify possible solutions that would improve migratory species movements up stream. We were disappointed with his proposed solution although we have now a detailed report on the structures themselves. I would be very interested in talking to Hugh Hendry about things as there may be something that has been overlooked. I do however think we have enough information to come up with a solution, just not what Mike Beech proposed. It will all boil down to sourcing adequate funding as in-stream works don’t come cheap.
      Unfortunately, the siltation issues from the new windfarm don’t fall within our remit. ART by necessity is only concerned with rivers and watercourses that discharge to Ayrshire’s coastline. Consequently the Avon falls under the Clyde Foundation’s control. I met with Willie Yeomans from the CF today and will be speaking to him again shortly so I’ll mention your concerns to him. Of course, I would also encourage you to pick up the phone and call SEPA yourself and ask for a pollution incident case number and to be kept informed of the outcome. It is essential that the Public report incidents too as soon as they see them. Renewable energy is a Scottish Government priority and with the targets that they have set for Scotland, I doubt if we will see a halt to windfarm development anytime soon.
      Keep commenting on the blog, we value your input.
      Stuart

  2. Rab M says:

    It was called Newmilns Dam. I spent many happy times watching the salmon and trout louping there. When I was younger it was a very popular swimming spot. We used to have great fun diving off the wall into the deep hole below the dam. This will be frowned on nowadays in our very safety conscious society but I became a strong swimmer as a result. I never really saw the problem as being as bad as others seem to have done – aren’t waterfalls and their pools normal in rivers and needed by the running fish as somewhere to rest? It was hardly impassable.