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A tale of 2 rivers: an illustration of the ecological mess this country is in. Just before lockdown, I walked the #Ver, one of the chalk streams that - with the exception of a few in northern France - are unique to southern England. It was dead.
Then on Friday I was taken by @Feargal_Sharkey to walk the #Itchen, one of the most famous stretches of fishing in the world, & which is still just about holding its own against water companies desperate to extract its water & fill it with sewage.
Compare and contrast the Itchen & the Ver at identical stages of their length. The waters of the Itchen still flow, still sustain life.
Read 7 tweets
To Hampshire, there to walk the line of the #Itchen from its source to Winchester, ancient seat of the West Saxon kings. The river threads through a landscape reach in history & legend: the scene of poltergeists, Civil War battles, ancestral curses & 18th century cricket teams.
The etymology of the #Itchen is uncertain, but may derive from the ancient name for the New Forest, Ytene. The river has witnessed repeated attempts to make it more navigable. The 1st took place in the 12th C, when the Bishop of Winchester built England's 1st canal reservoir.
The #Itchen is also, of course, one of England's - and therefore the world's - most celebrated rivers for fly-fishing, & we shall be finishing today's walk at the grave of Izaak Walton in Winchester Cathedral. ImageImage
Read 31 tweets
As our ecosystems collapse, our wildlife is being pushed to the brink.
Anyone who doubts this should do as I did last year, & walk the length of a chalk stream like the #Ver: part of an ecosystem pretty much unique to England, but now, to all intents & purposes, dead https://t.co/p21p1boK5N
Saving our rivers is a cause that should unite people across the political spectrum: from Extinction Rebellion activists to fly-fishing Tory squires.
Read 3 tweets
To St Albans - “the fairest & best Town in the County of Hertford,” as Edmund Bohun described it in 1688 - there to meet with @Feargal_Sharkey, & walk the river #Ver.
The #Ver was famed as late as 1885 for its “great flow of water,” & its navigability explains why the Romans founded the city of Verulamium on its banks. (A 1744 guide to St Albans claims that “it was called Verulamium from the River Ver which runs just by” - but I doubt this.)
Unfortunately - as everyone familiar with @Feargal_Sharkey’s campaign to save our chalk streams will doubtless have anticipated - the #Ver is in a bad way: excessive water extraction has left it a shadow of its former self.
Read 37 tweets

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