River: Gayle Beck
Length connected: 9.4 km
Area connected: 5.9 Ha
Completed: June 2017
Contractor: Marsden AES Ltd
The removal of Selside Weir is proof that with habitat improvement small changes can have a big impact; this project was completed in just one day but improved 9.4km of river!
The work took place on Gayle Beck, high in the Upper Ribble area of the catchment and close to Ribblehead. The weir was constructed from loose stone (mostly cobbles and boulders) and topped with stone slabs.
Although not as big as some of our other fish pass projects, the weir still created a barrier to migrating fish, including Atlantic salmon and resident brown trout. It also contributed to geomorphological issues in Gayle Beck as it prevented the natural movement of gravel downstream.
Little is known about the history and origin of the weir. We’ve not been able to find out what the weir was used for in the past, even after completing an archaeological survey of the site. Assessment of the National Library of Scotland Map Archives found that the ‘weir’ was part of the old walled boundary between Selside Common and what is now Lower Birkwith Farm. So it may be that the weir was simply a boundary marker.
By partially removing the central section of the weir but retaining some of the original structure on each side, we were able to create a suitable channel for fish to swim past the weir. This also protected the river banks from erosion and limited the overall impact on the geomorphology of the river channel.