Did you know that each year, the Yorkshire Dales see a number of fishy visitors appear for their hatching season? Right at the top of the River Ribble, nestled deep within the Yorkshire Dales is home to Salmon, who return year on year to lay their eggs before heading back out to the Irish sea, through the Dales, and out into the sea off the Lancashire coast.
Every autumn, visitors flock to hot spots along the river hoping to get a glimpse of the iconic fish swimming upstream to their nesting place. They tackle rapid flowing waters and obstacles such as rapids like Stainforth Force, waterfalls and more to make the treacherous journey each year. It’s a dangerous journey, but one that is vital for the continuation of the species, that’s why the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) are working harder and harder each year to make the journey safer for the fish. According to the Yorkshire Post the YDNPA and the Ribble Rivers Trust have made a number of changes over the years in order to make the journey up the Ribble easier for the Salmon.
Mark Hewitt has told the Yorkshire Post:
“What we are seeing at the moment is fish moving back up, from the Irish Sea right up the estuary and all the way up to Stainforth. Anything that goes wrong in that catchment can have an impact. There’s a huge amount of luck – avoiding fishermen and seals, getting into the estuary, there’s a long way for them to travel. It may look like they’re never going to make it, but they can work their way up these natural steps.”
Some of the improvements to the conditions of the river in order to aid the Salmon’s journey include peat restoration work to reduce erosion of the hillsides, the removal of weirs and obstacles in the river like trees, as well as building fish passes which allow Salmon and other wildlife easy access up stream in tricky to navigate areas, by providing a safe way to pass through.
The main breeding season for the fish is November and December, however the fish start to pass through the Yorkshire Dales in October. You can often see the fish from popular locations within the Dales such as Settle. Mark Hewitt has added that anyone coming to the banks of the Ribble to spot the fish should be mindful of dangers in the are and should take care to look after the local wildlife:
“You can be stood on the edge watching fish leap six feet away. It’s a fantastic sight, but it does bring its own issues. Somewhere like Stainforth, which is easily accessible, it does bring pressures. As with anything in the countryside, we do need to be mindful.”