One of Huddersfield’s most prolific environmental charities has started an ambitious project to improve a 13.5 mile stretch of the river and tributaries in the Holme Valley.

River Holme Connections has been going since 2015 and already improved around 25 miles of footpaths along a total of 34 miles of the river, including its tributaries, banks and surroundings.

Over the last eight years this Honley-based charity has also worked with 3,000 children on its River Explorer education programme and planted 69,500 trees and 10,000 wildflower plants.

In that time they’ve notched up more than 19,000 volunteer hours, including shifting rubbish from 22 miles of the river and collecting over 1,600 bags of rubbish from the green spaces around it. On top of that they’ve spent £150,000 on footpath improvements.

The new project called Nature’s Holme follows a successful fund bid by River Holme Connections to create nature rich corridors along nearly 22 km of River Holme and its tributaries.

The charity has partnered with South Pennines Park, The University of Huddersfield and The Palladium Group which has done schemes like this worldwide. The two-year project is Government funded through its Landscape Recovery Scheme.

It began six months ago and involves groups of farmers and land managers working together to provide environmental benefits across farmed and rural landscapes, improving soils, flood alleviation and water retention, increasing biodiversity and improving water quality.

Simon Hirst, river steward with River Holme Connections which is providing ‘boots on the ground’ support, said: “The local environment has suffered historically due to industrialisation. The weirs and urbanisation of the river channel have meant the river has been heavily modified. There is an opportunity to make it more natural by creating biodiversity-rich corridors that will benefit people and wildlife.”

The project will also include planting hedgerows, trees and wildflower meadows, restoring peat, reducing the risk of floods using trees and other natural  techniques and protecting endangered species such as water voles and white-clawed crayfish.

One of River Holme Connections’ founders, Lynva Russell (below), who was awarded a BEM for her outstanding environmental work in the King’s first Birthday Honours, said: “This is an important milestone in our charity for recognising the ongoing work to deliver a wide range of environmental benefits, including improved soils, flood alleviation and water retention, as well as increasing biodiversity, carbon storage and improved water quality.

“Our vision is that by 2038 the River Holme catchment will be resilient to climate change, a place where nature and wildlife is connected and thriving and where our local communities, landowners, local businesses and visitors can continue to enjoy and care for the land, its rivers and native wildlife.”

In terms of the charity’s usual work, volunteering working parties are organised for the third Saturday of the month with the activity depending on the season but can involve controlling Himalayan balsam – known as balsam bashing – river cleanups and litter picks, tree planting, meadow management and acorn collecting. The summer months tend to focus on balsam bashing and doing river cleanups and litter picks.

The charity now has around 110 volunteers and always welcomes new ones. It also runs corporate volunteer days, particularly through the winter tree planting season from December to March and businesses are urged to get involved by contacting River Holme Connections on its website at

River Holme Connections is holding its open day this Thursday (August 10) from 10am to 4pm at The Old Bridge Inn and Coffee House on Market Walk, Holmfirth, HD9 7DA.

For more information on River Holme Connections go to its website at

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.