River Guardian Training Workshop


BEACON River Guardian TrainingBEACON held a fantastic River Guardian workshop on 25th January at Marthall Hall.  There were over 30 volunteers who attended the day-long workshop, which was a mixture of indoor desktop training, and then outdoor practical learning.

The aim of the workshop was to train volunteers, who have come from all backgrounds and levels of experience, to be able to safely take  water samples from local watercourses, and test the samples there and then using simple test kits.  These kits test phosphate and nitrate levels, pH and temperature of the water.  Volunteers then record this information and send the results to BEACON where we can analyse this information and see where problem areas are.

The day was kicked off by Terry Dudley, of the Birkin Fly Fishers, who explained the work that has previously been done by the anglers, and also students from Manchester University who took and tested water samples from various points along Birkin and Mobberley Brooks.  There is therefore already a good deal of baseline data for us to work with.

BEACON River Guardian TrainingCaroline Riley, from Healthy Rivers Trust, then spoke to the group about the importance of water quality testing, what we use the information for and how to carry out the tests themselves.  Caroline gave a practical demonstration of the equipment and test kits, and also answered questions.  Anna Gilchrist of Manchester University was also on hand to answer any tricky questions the volunteers had!

After lunch the group walked from Marthall Hall to Pedley Brook where they were all able to practice carrying out the water tests and how to accurately record the information.  A quick kick-sample was also carried out and a stickleback was found in the bottom of the brook!  The tests carried out on the brook showed low levels of both phosphate and nitrate too.

BEACON River Guardian Training




BEACON River Guardian Training

On returning to the Hall volunteers were encouraged to ‘Adopt and Spot’, to take and test water samples from on a regular basis, and equipment and test kits were handed out.

The day was a huge success with positive feedback received from the attendees.  People from over ten different partner organisations attending the training, as well as individual interested volunteers.  The volunteers have now ‘adopted’ 25 spots along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks as well as along the Rivers Dean and Bollin.

BEACON River Guardian Training

If you would like to find out more about the River Guardian project, or become a River Guardian yourself please contact us here.BEACON River Guardian Training


River Guardian Training Workshop


The Ruploading-resultsiver Guardian training session being held on Wednesday 25th January is now fully booked.

If you are still interested in attending River Guardian training, please contact us here and if there is enough uptake we will be running another date.  You can find information on what the training entails here.

Thanks everyone for your support!!   

Thunderclap Flood Awareness


Did youfloods-destroy know that 1 in 6 properties is at risk of flooding?

Would you know how to check if your property is at risk?

There are many people that wouldn’t know how to do this and so the Environment Agency have launched a national flood action campaign to raise awareness of flooding, the problems it can cause and how you can prepare if you are in a property at risk.

Last winter many homes were destroyed as storms Eva, Frank and Desmond bought record-breaking rain and devastation to families at Christmas.  Floods can damage homes, destroy possessions, displace families, and in the worst instances; floods can kill.  It is therefore important to know if your home is at risk of flooding.

To find out if your home is at risk of flooding or how to prepare for a flood event please visit:

You can sign up for flood alerts here, and also spread the word and potentially save a life.

For more information on the Thunderclap campaign please click here.



Partnership working bashes balsam!

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

Picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

As the saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’, and this is definitely the case for anything BEACON hopes to achieve in the Bollin Catchment.  By working in partnership with other organisations, landowners and local communities we can bring together those many hands to work towards one common aim; improving our water courses and local environment for everyone to enjoy.


On a 6th July the Environment Agency and Bollin Valley Partnership teamed up to carry out a huge balsam bash on land owned and managed by the National Trust at Styal.  There was a really good team of 20 volunteers from the Environment Agency, made up from a number of different departments.  The weather was kind to the team and it didn’t rain for the whole event, which always makes a difference to the mood!

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA







A large section of riverbank and southern woods was cleared of balsam, which complemented work done last year with a much smaller Environment Agency  team.  The National Trust were delighted with the work done as they have not had the resources to host large groups pulling balsam this year.  Huge thanks to Rachel Argyros, EA, and Emma Houghton, BVP for organising this balsam bash.

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA







Both the Bollin Valley Partnership and Environment Agency would like to run this event again next year, with even more volunteers so we can really get to grips with the balsam in this area. A great example of partnership working!


Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash

Avro Golf Club Woodford Balsam Bash DeanClub members and volunteers had a fantastic balsam bash on 2nd July, in some slightly changeable weather where sunscreen and wellies were needed, all in one morning!  There were 16 volunteers in all, including three children who contributed over 40 volunteer hours in total.





Although there is a still a lot of balsam found in the nearby Dairyhouse Wood, the volume of balsam in some areas of the woodland has really decreased thanks to consistent control work in these areas year on year.  Now these small areas are under control, the golf club and its volunteers can look to begin work in other areas of the woodland.

Avro Golf Club Woodford Balsam Bash Dean

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash Bollin Stockport Woodford









The working party on Saturday did just that, and were rewarded with lots of sandwiches and fruit pies in the Clubhouse afterwards.  Thank you to everyone that took part in the bash and contributed to keeping the River Dean free of invasive species.  At least you won’t be winning the wooden spoon for ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’ this year!

For more information on upcoming balsam bashes can be found here.

Balsam Bash Avro Golf Club

Balsam Bash Avro Golf Club

Balsam Bash Bonanza!

Balsam on the Carrs, Wilmslow

A fantastic day of balsam bashing was held on Sunday 26th June, with BEACON partners Friends of Bowdon Bollin (FOBB), and Friends of the Carrs (FOTC).  Balsam bashing is the removal of Himalayan Balsam, an invasive non-native species, by pulling it out manually.  More information on balsam bashing can be found here.




The morning saw FOBB get stuck into a strip of balsam that had been tackled over two years along the western edge of a 45 acre field that borders the River Bollin near Ashley Mill in Bowdon. The difference made to the abundance of balsam here over the past two years has been immense.  There is far less Himalayan balsam than there used to be, which made pulling it up a bit trickier as brambles and nettles have taken over where the balsam used to be.  This however is a small price to pay to ensure the restoration of riverside habitats, and noting long-sleeves can’t fix!  FOBB also dug up some Giant Hogweed seedlings that were found in amongst the balsam, and two volunteers dug up hogweed and pulled up balsam plants from in the river; it was a great day to get the waders on!  Seven volunteers got involved and had a great morning doing conservation work and socialising.  FOBB have balsam bashes every weekend throughout the summer, the details of which can be found here.

FOBB Balsam Bash Bowdon BollinFOBB Balsam Bash Bowdon Bollin


FOBB Balsam Bash Bowdon Bollin


In the afternoon we ambled over to Wilmslow to help FOTC with their balsam bash. The turnout for this bash was fantastic, with 14 people in attendance (and one baby!).  FOTC worked on an area adjacent to the River Bollin just upstream of the second footbridge in the park.  This patch has also been tackled for the past couple of years, but it often floods and each time the river brings new balsam seeds with it.  So, FOTC must keep coming back to this area to ensure that the balsam brought along by the floods doesn’t spread into areas of the park that have been cleared.  The work that BEACON partners are doing upstream to control Himalayan Balsam on their own land should slowly reduce the amount of seeds coming downstream.  The work FOTC have done has reduced the number of seeds heading downstream towards the area FOBB look after.  Luckily the volunteers managed to avoid the rain and enjoyed tackling some invasives.  FOTC have other balsam bashes planned this summer, the details of which can be found here.

Balsam Bash Friends of the Carrs WilmslowBalsam Bash Friends of the Carrs Wilmslow






Balsam Bash Friends of the Carrs Wilmslow

Thank you to everyone that came and volunteered at each balsam bash, as without this help the rivers in the Bollin catchment would be in a much poorer state. To get involved in balsam bashes happening in your local area please visit the events page.

Balsam Bash Friends of the Carrs Wilmslow


Dog Day on the Carrs

FOTC Dog Day Wilmslow 2016Whilst we were bashing balsam in the rain and sunshine during BEACON’s first balsam bash of the season, also in Carrs Park in Wilmslow, Friends of the Carrs hosted a family dog show.  The event was a hit, even when the rains came, and helped raise awareness of the local park and the beautiful natural resource people have on their doorstep. To read more about this brilliant event please click here.

First Balsam Bash of the Season

On a rather wet Sunday 22nd May, BEACON, Friends of the Carrs and the Bollin Valley Partnership held the first balsam bash of the season, with five volunteers raring to get stuck in!  The Himalayan Balsam on the Carrs has been controlled in an ongoing programme of works for over five years, and this is definitely having a positive effect on the area.

Balsam bash on the Carrs My 22nd BEACON Wilmslow Bollin DeanWe all met on the Carrs at 2pm, just as the heavens opened!  Not to be detered we headed along the banks of the River Bollin to an area just past the first footbridge where we knew there was a lot of balsam in need of bashing.  There were comments from the volunteers and organisers that it had been difficult to find much balsam to bash this year and so it must be working!


We found lots of untouched balsam which was also unfortunately mingled in with some young Japanese Knotweed shoots that have been treated in previous years but obviously need treating again.











The four sisters that volunteered really enjoyed pulling up the plants and stomping on them to make sure they were definitely dead!  Dad seemed to enjoy getting stuck in too although we all ended up a bit soggy!  This one might be a contender for the wettest balsam bash at the Volunteer Thank You awards next year.

Balsam bash on the Carrs My 22nd BEACON Wilmslow Bollin Dean


For more information on upcoming balsam bashes please visit our events page here.