About BRAG

It was late September in 2011. We were still in the middle of a major country-wide drought. I walked down to the river in the vain hope of seeing flowing water. Instead I found Warren Slaney, a very distressed water bailiff trying to rescue the few remaining fish struggling to survive in what could only be described as puddles of water. We talked, as he worked, about the issues facing our unique and beautiful river. The death of masses of our native crayfish, the loss of the water voles, the leaks in the river bed, the lack of flow, the soughs, the extractions ….the list went on. For me, it was a very fast and confusing learning curve. But I was clear about one thing; something had to be done. Yes, of course I knew about climate change, but surely we couldn’t just sit back, victims of what we had largely caused?

I went round the village and gathered information and opinions: “You can’t do owt. It’s just the weather. The river has often dried up.” “I’ve never seen it as bad as this and I were born here”, “the river used to get water pumped from Long Rake” “years ago, at Middleton end, there was enough water to pump up for houses in Middleton”, “extraction from bore holes is to blame for lack of water”, “the old soughs need repairing/sealing off”, “the river bed was damaged when drains were put in”, “a lorry crashed into the river at Middleton end years ago and damaged the river bed”. Everyone had something to say. But it was also evident, that everyone cared about ‘their’ river. So I organised a public meeting.

This was held in Youlgrave in October 2011 and was attended by around 150 people. This sparked off a local discussion about weather, climate change, local water use and the possibilities of protecting the river from drying up. Together with other local people, it was decided to carry on meeting and to find out more about the flow of the river, to establish where it was leaking and to consider what could be done to conserve its future health. The Bradford River Action Group (BRAG) was formed. We continued to gather as much information as possible from experts and locals with the aim of evolving some sort of action plan. But it soon became clear that the unique history and ecology of this little limestone river should be explored further and celebrated. The best way to do this was to produce a book about the river so that everyone would know why we wanted to conserve our precious heritage. Christine Gregory was an obvious choice to do this. Her stunning book on the Brown Hares of Derbyshire was more than enough proof of her creative talent and above all, her commitment to the Derbyshire Dales environment. So this book “A River in Time”, funded by the Peak District National Park Sustainable Development Fund, is the result. A celebration of the River Bradford.

Maggie Ford - Chair of BRAG

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