The Wessex Rivers Trust, Laverstock and Ford Parish Council and the Devenish Bradshaw Charitable Trust have launched a Chalk Stream Challenge Trail along the River Bourne and its water-meadows in Laverstock.
The trail has been developed by the charities with funds from the Parish Council and is one of a series of Chalk Stream Challenges the Wessex Rivers Trust has been establishing on chalk streams across southern England.
The trail activities have been designed so that youth groups and families can have plenty of fun, from spotting fish and wildflowers to playing pooh sticks or watching how fast the river is flowing in different places.
The trail starts in the Parish Council’s Whitebridge Spinney, passing by a pond that vanishes then reappears through the seasons before heading on through mysterious wet woodland. It then ventures on to the section of Laverstock Water-meadows owned and managed by Devenish Bradshaw Charitable Trust volunteers.
Expect to see trees and songbirds in the river, drifts of wildflowers in the meadows and the first beginnings of a new wild wood, before venturing back to the start along Church Road and more glimpses of the crystal-clear waters of the River Bourne chalk stream.
Tracy Standish, education officer for Wessex Rivers Trust, said: “It’s been great fun developing this Chalk Stream Trail with Devenish Bradshaw Charitable Trust. As it is so close to Salisbury and the schools in Laverstock I am hopeful it will become one our most popular Chalk Stream Challenges.
“The challenge was dreamt up by two enthusiastic volunteers as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded Watercress and Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme on the headwaters of the Rivers Test and Itchen, and they are delighted that we’ve been able to develop their badge further by creating routes on other chalk streams and rivers.”
Amy Whetstone, trustee for Devenish Bradshaw Charitable Trust said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the first Chalk Stream Challenge Trail for the Salisbury Avon on our precious stretch of the River Bourne SSSI.
“Our land and river is brimming with the chalk stream wildlife as displayed on the spotter charts and other challenge activity sheets. Bullheads and buttercups are waiting to be discovered by the challenge competitors.”
Nick Baker, chair for Laverstock and Ford Parish Council said: “I was so honoured to officially open the Chalk Stream Challenge Trail on the bank of the River Bourne at the Devenish Bradshaw Trust’s new Nature Study Area.
“We came armed with our spotter charts and got a head start on completing the Chalk Stream Challenge. I am formulating a plan to set up some water vole rafts along the river to help our chances of spotting signs of a vole or two.”
Being involved in nature has never been more important. Being outdoors has proven benefits for people’s wellbeing and helps them to understand the important function rivers, plant and wildlife biodiversity has on their local environment.
This challenge is a fun way to introduce young people and families to the wildlife on their doorstep.
There are 30 free cloth badges courtesy of the Devenish Bradshaw Charitable Trust available for the first 30 group members who successfully complete the challenge this year.