Article - The River Blog

Mapping the River Holme

Author: Ryan Lloyd
Categories: Projects, Volunteers
Tags: , , , , ,

I started work for River Holme Connections in April as a summer placement funded by Cummins Turbo Technologies. The project I’m working on is part of the larger “Our Holme” project aiming to educate communities within the catchment about the river network and ways in which they can keep it healthy.

My role as a GIS and river surveyor involves wading through the River Holme with a GPS and recording features such as invasive species, outflow pipes, weirs and any wildlife we see. The data then gets imported onto a map of the catchment I developed (See Figure 1) where I can then analyse spatial (location based) issues such as where sewage litter is coming from or how the shape and flow (Hydromorphology) of the river affects distribution of litter and invasive species such as Japanese knotweed.

Figure 1: The River Holme Catchment

The River Holme Catchment Boundary


The length of river being mapped out within the catchment is approximately 24.9 km and includes the main section of the River Holme (14.5 km) including tributaries New Mill Dike (3.4 km), Mag Brook (4 km) and the River Ribble (3 km) as shown in Table 1.

Table 1

River & TributaryLength (km)
River Holme14.5
New Mill Dike3.4
Mag Brook4
River Ribble3


Steve Jones recording data on a weir.

During a typical river survey, myself and the volunteers will each take one side of the river and record the features we come across along a 1 km stretch using a GPS.


Sue Harrison with her spoils of the river.

Volunteers have been instrumental in the delivery of this project, donating a total of 55 hours of their time so far. There is still a long way to go, however we are moving forward in building a better picture of the River Holme just having completed the main stretch of river.

Something the volunteers are passionate about is removing litter from the river. As we only have 2 GPS devices available, volunteers rotate between recording and picking litter/pointing out features. Not only is it a more efficient way of recording data, it also eliminates stray litter that could break down even further and spread downstream.


Backwater channels are perfect habitat for fry and fingerlings (baby fish) to rest where there is fast-flowing water and in flood events. In this photo we saw hundreds of tiny fry that were only just visible when the sun came and cast their shadows in the silt.

Backwater channel habitat for Fry

Indicator species such as river flies i.e. mayfly and stonefly can be used to determine the health of our river. This can be done by carrying out river fly surveys across the catchment and recording the species which feed on them such as dippers and grey wagtail.

Some of the notable bird species that have been recorded along the river so far can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2

Dipper11 Pairs
King Fisher3 Pairs
Grey Wagtail14 Pairs
Buzzard2 Pairs
Cuckoo2 Pairs


We will be carrying out river fly surveys within the next few weeks where the data will be collated and sent to the river fly partnership. Keep an eye out for river fly events on the website and newsletter as we will be looking for volunteers to help assist.

Now that the River Holme has been successfully surveyed we can move onto the tributaries. We have already begun surveying Mag Brook and expect to have finished it next week. Stay tuned for more news and updates from the river!

River & TributaryLength (km)
River Holme14.5
New Mill Dike3.4
Mag Brook4
River Ribble3


2 comments on this post

  1. As a regular visitor to the Holme it’s clear from your work that I’ve only seen small parts of it. Can you tell me where your main photo on the blog is, taken apparently from a confluence?

    1. Hi Alec,

      Thanks for the comment and reading what we’ve been up to. The photo in the header was taken at the confluence where the River Holme and the Colne meet. It marked the end of recording the main stretch of river and I imagined not many people would have seen that area so had to take a picture!


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