Winter warmers: Urban river cleanups around the UK

River Don cleanup Jan 2015 - River Stewardship Company

When it comes to cleaning up litter and heavy rubbish on the banks of urban rivers, the very coldest months are often the best time to do it.

Most of the summer vegetation (native or otherwise!) has died back in the frost, so you can actually see what’s been collecting in the brambles, nettles and knotweed throughout the previous year.

And even if some of your volunteers have already made tracks for sun or reliable mountain snow…

… many more of them are probably itching for an excuse to get out of the house and do something truly warming and worthwhile on a winter’s afternoon.

Photos often tell their own tale – and in this case they do, from Glasgow to south London via Carlisle, Sheffield and Sleaford. But we’ve picked up some all time classic reports on social media too…

From the River Slea Cleanup Group:

Once again thank you to all that attended the latest clean up. It was a good one. Some different things have been removed today. A battery charger, ironing board and folding chair. Approximately 35kg of rubbish removed from river and bank. Well done everyone!

From the Eden Rivers Trust:

A few of the fantastic volunteers helped clean up the banks of the River Caldew in Carlisle this morning… A bike, a chainsaw, a pressure washer, a shopping trolley, an electronic drum kit and two car seats made up just a small part of the haul.


Freezing cowld. Thankless graft. And I fell in. Bloody rubbish.

From the Wandle Trust:

1 stove, 1 motorbike, 1 garden fence, 1 Thomas the tank engine toy, 1 hanging basket, 1 computer, 1 tyre, 2 suitcases, 2 washing machines, 7 bikes, rolls of carpet, 60 bags of rubbish and endless fencing panels… What did I learn? No matter how steep the bank, hauling a washing machine up a vertical concrete cliff is always possible.

River Wandle cleanup Dec 2014 - Wandle Trust

River Slea cleanup Jan 2014 - River Slea Cleanup Group

River Caldew Carlisle cleanup Jan 2015 - Eden Rivers Trust

Sheffield cleanup Feb 2015 - SPRITE

River Kelvin cleanup Jan 2015 - FORK

If you’ve been cleaning up your local city river, send us a photo and a quick report, and we’ll try to include it in a future blog post!

(Photo 1: River Stewardship Company; photo 2: Wandle Trust; photo 3: River Slea Cleanup Group; photo 4: Eden Rivers Trust; photo 5: SPRITE; photo 6: Friends of the River Kelvin)

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