There’s a great walk alongside the River Colne close to Huddersfield town centre – but many people don’t even know it exists.
EPIKS (Environmental Projects in Kirklees) has been working on improving the paths along the river with local residents, community groups and businesses.
EPIKS volunteer co-ordinator Helen Stevenson said: “People don’t realise how much green space we have so close to the town centre.
“When you’re on the riverside footpath at Aspley you can feel to be a million miles away from a town. It can be so peaceful. We just want people to explore it for themselves.”
EPIKS is working towards a Huddersfield Riverside Nature Park linking all these paths. They have been supported by Cummins Turbo Technologies and the company has also been monitoring wildlife on their riverbanks to show that a variety of birds and mammals are thriving.
EPIKS volunteers and Kirklees College students have created and maintained a species-rich meadow at Snow Island between Kings Mill Lane and the university at Firth Street where you can see wildflowers and insects in spring and summer. The woodland is great for exploring and is bordered by water on all sides.
EPIKS is the working title for Environment Kirklees Ltd, a not-for-profit company based in Huddersfield and operating projects throughout Kirklees. Its team includes a combination of volunteer directors and paid part-time staff.
EPIKS has been working for more than 20 years to improve the habitats along the River Colne but also to give people access to these greenspaces so they can be close to wildlife on their doorstep. They do this with the help of grant funding, sponsorship from businesses and the help of a team of dedicated volunteers.
Our the last year EPIKS has cleared, created and maintained 3km of riverside paths, transformed a third of a hectare of commercial grounds to woodland and wildflower meadow and provided educational and training opportunities for 150 young people.
By creating glades along footpaths, clearing invasive plants and managing wildflower meadows, EPIKS has created breeding grounds for insects and the bird and mammal life that feed on them.
A recent project to capture photos of animals on the River Colne at Cummins Turbo Technologies revealed an amazing array of life both day and night including deer, sparrowhawks, kingfishers and badgers.
EPIKS volunteer director Jeff Keenlyside said: “The rivers and green spaces in Huddersfield are fantastic for wildlife. Just minutes from Huddersfield town centre you can get to the River Colne and see kingfishers, herons and dippers all year round.
“The remaining oak woodlands along the river valley and the Bradley Greenway are home to bluebells and wildflowers, butterflies and bats you would not expect to see in such a built-up area.
“The River Colne itself supports wild brown trout, grayling and underwater life which did not exist 20 years ago – indicators of more healthy river system. This is why we now have dippers as they need underwater insects for food.”
The Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan includes a commitment that the public should be able to access green space or water such as woodlands, wetlands, parks and rivers within a 15-minute walk from their home.
EPIKS volunteer work groups take place on Wednesdays from 10am-12noon and it hosts regular corporate work days and runs guided walks to give people a chance to explore the hidden wildlife of our rivers and green spaces.
A three-mile circular walk and litter pick has been organised for Friday, March 24, starting at 10am at the John Smith’s Stadium, through the riverside woodland at Kilner Bank to Wakefield Road at Aspley, then across Snow Island to the University of Huddersfield and back along Huddersfield Broad Canal.
It’s part of the Keep Britain Tidy’s #LitterHeroes’ Great British Spring Clean to pick up litter and anyone is welcome to join the event. Litter pickers and bin bags will be provided.
All volunteers need to do is wear outdoor clothes suitable for the weather and strong shoes. Reserve a spot via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/huddersfield-river-ramble-and-litter-pick-keep-britain-tidy-litterheroes-tickets-579212609507
For more information phone Helen Stevenson on 07767 774005.
For general information on EPIKS got to https://epiks.org.uk/
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.