We were back at Darvel this afternoon meeting with fish pass designers in an effort to take forwards the local angling club’s hopes for improved fish passage at the Mill Dam. We now have to wait for more accurate costings to come in to us and then we will start the process of trying to secure adequate funding to allow this project to reach fruition.
We headed downstream to Newmilns to see I & H Borland’s progress at the wold foot bridge over the Irvine near the Lanfine Estate Gates. The refurbishment of this footbridge has been underway for a few weeks now and involved removal of old lead based paint. It was encouraging to see the protection measures in place to protect the river and the environment. Keep up the good work I & H Borland. Let’s hope the weather holds out a bit longer to allow them to complete this task before a spate comes and makes life difficult.
Fron Newmilns we headed towards the office crossing the Cessnock at Lawers Bridge. We had a look over and as usual the enrichment in this burn was obvious. Someone has recently sprayed docks but killed a fair bit of grass off that holds the banks together too. With cattle having free access to the burn and erosion obvious, the impact on water quality and habitat was obvious. The river bed was completely silted and trampled. Not good habitat for fish or invertebrates. I hope SEPA address this with the landowner concerned when it comes to one to one farm visits. Unless this type of erosion and degradation is prevented, what hope is there of ever restoring the rivers and burns to reasonable condition with healthy fish populations again? The cessnock once supported a salmon population upstream of Carnell. It’s a long time since anyone reported seeing salmon this far upstream and the Trust have never found juveniles of this species in the burn (that doesn’t mean they aren’t there of course).
Finally we headed to the road bridge at Dykefield that has partially collapsed and is currently gated to prevent access. I must check with the road’s Alliance whether there any plans to rebuild a new bridge. Again the silt loading in the watercourse was obvious and unattractive. I remember I used to tie boxes of trout flies for an old man that regularly fished the Cessnock all his life.He used to tell me of 2 and 3lb trout that were golden bellied and lay in the deeper pools. He has long since departed, but I wonder what he would have to say about it’s current condition? I will take the time to electro fish this river extensively in 2014 and although we don’t have funding for this at the moment, I will do it in the evenings so that we don’t drain the Trust’s resources. Anyone who wishes to help with this, please feel free to give me a call. I will be starting electro fishing shortly.