We have already carried out various activities as part of the Aycliffe to Skerningham restoration project. So far we have improved a total of 5km within a 10km length of the River Skerne between Aycliffe Village and Great Burdon.
Areas of the river were isolated due to the growth of reeds and rushes, resulting in little variety of plants or wildlife. Lengths of the river were overly straightened, widened and deepened which impacts water quality and on the living organisms and habitats in the stream. Initially, we cleared areas with dense vegetation to open the channel to allow fish species to pass and access greater lengths of the Skerne.
To improve the river habitat we installed flow deflectors created from bundles of birch brash. The deflectors were tied together using natural twine, then pegged into place in the river bed using birch and scot’s pine stakes.
The width of the river was reduced by a third using the flow deflectors to narrow the channel and speed up the flow of the river. Over time, the brash flow deflectors will become the new riverbank, after silt is deposited between them and the original bank and will eventually decompose leaving a more natural river with bends and meanders.
The flow deflectors have the added benefit of creating a habitat that allows amphibians, insects and young fish to take refuge from predators and develop into adults. This creates a better food chain and larger populations of different species. Our partner Durham Wildlife Trust have lots of interesting information about our local wildlife on their website.
We have installed a different flow deflector on other sections of the river, these are scot’s pine logs which are pinned into the river bed facing 45 degrees upstream. Similar to the previous method, these reduce the width of the river in specific areas and increase the flow rate, leading to cleaner gravels and riffles which provide protection from predators.
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Our artistic partners, Darlington Hippodrome and Orchestras Live are welcoming the Orchestra of Opera North to the Hippodrome on 7th November 2021 for a very special afternoon of music, including the live premiere of Song of the Skerne.