Our group of wellbeing walkers took to the Porter Brook Trail to help beat the Blue Monday blues on what is affectionately known as the saddest day of the year.
Meeting as a group for the first time to enjoy a Blue Monday Wellbeing Walk along the Porter Brook Trail and Porter Clough, curated and led by Riverlution Manager, Geoffrey Guy and joined by Chris Lucas, Riverlution Officer and Robert Peck from the Friends of the Porter Valley charitable organisation, the friendly on-the-go conversation ambled between local tree identification and natural flood management, whilst pathways took an invigoratingly scenic but wintry turn in parts
The River Stewardship Company strives to connect local people to their ‘patch’ of waterway to create better waterways for people, places and wildlife and so our Community Interest Company, Riverlution by RSC created the hashtag #behappybeblue to encourage the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire to ‘be riverlutionary’ by getting out and about to explore their local rivers and waterways and kick-start their new year with improved feelings of wellbeing, just by being by water!
The Porter Clough wellbeing walk also featured as part of the #walkwithme campaign championed by Nuffield Farming scholar, Chris Manley, which uses walking as a positive resource to help improve our physical and mental health and highlights the positive influence that just being by water can have on our lives. It was equally a great opportunity to catch up on all the good work benefiting the environment taking place in the area where the Friends of the Porter Valley have been working with Sheffield City Council to install ‘leaky dams’ as a form of natural flood management.
Chris Lucas, Riverlution Officer was at hand to explain the important role played by the ‘leaky dams’ along the walking route:
Porter Clough is one of several steep-sided valleys on the western side of the city, bordering the Peak District. During high rainfall events, surface water runs off these steep-sided valleys causing a rapid increase in discharge in the rivers which flow down into more urban areas of Sheffield.
'Leaky dams’ are created when natural woody material is laid across small streams to intercept and slow the flow of water during times of higher flow. These structures replicate blockages which occur naturally when trees and branches enter the channel. Pools form behind the blockages, slowing the flow of water and reducing the flood peak downstream.
Last Autumn, our trainee river stewards group worked with Woodland Ranger, Matt Coster to help create leaky dams in the Porter Clough, and so it was brilliant to see them in action on Blue Monday during the walking tour!
Geoffrey Guy, Riverlution Manager, shared his hope that the successful first wellbeing walk will help launch a series of themed walks to take place throughout the year:
We were delighted at the turn out for our first wellbeing walk of the year. Feedback showed the group welcomed the venture into the less-trod reaches of the higher catchment area of the River Porter, and although we missed out on the majestic views due to sudden snowfall, it only added to the sense of camaraderie between the group.
Working collectively, with support from the Don, Dearne and Rother Network, Don Catchment Rivers Trust, Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust, Friends of the Blue Loop, Friends of Porter Valley and Kelham Island and Neepsend Alliance, we will continue to grow support for a regular river walk campaign, promoting the positive link between wellbeing, mental health and our rivers.