River Reflections : What they mean to us...

Maddie Crabb, Trainee Project Officer

We all love rivers but why are they so special to us? Wessex Rivers Trust staff reflect on why they adore our watery wonders...

Why are rivers special to you?
For me I have always lived close to water and I can’t imagine life without a nearby river. However, what I find personally special about rivers is that I’m part of a small group of people who know about a secret underwater landscape that many people overlook or don’t know about. If you’re lucky enough to stick a go pro in a river, you’ll understand my excitement about a beautiful and little known underwater world.

What do you like to do by a river?
I like to walk next to rivers and just listen and watch running water. I find it a very calming experience.

Have rivers helped you in any way?
Going for a walk by a river is like hitting a reset button. Personally, I find it really helpful to calm anxiety, which has been especially helpful during the covid pandemic.

Why do YOU think we should look after our rivers?
I am often shocked by how few people know about what lives and grows in rivers despite the UK having over a 1000 rivers*. I am lucky enough to have seen and studied these incredibly rich and diverse underwater landscapes that seem to often be overlooked. People can’t physically see what’s beneath the surface and as a result are more likely to focus on terrestrial ecosystems. River ecosystems can be fragile and particularly vulnerable to changes caused by people and environmental changes. If people aren’t aware of rivers this vulnerability is only exacerbated. This is why we need to look after our rivers.

Do you have a favourite river/stretch of river, and why?
I get excited every time I see a river, but the River Severn has a special place in my heart. I was lucky enough to grow up on the lower River Severn which is quite unique compared to many other rivers in the UK. Although it might not be traditionally picturesque its 9 m tidal range does not disappoint. Some days you see a river coloured like a strong cup of tea littered with small sailing boats and few hours later you can see extensive mudflats and sand bars that stretch well over 2 miles. This diverse and dynamic landscape is a beautiful natural wonder.