What we've been doing

Otter holt creationOtter holt creation

Here's some of the work the partnership has done so far.

River Restoration

High silt and sediment levels smother the river bed, causing loss of habitat for small creatures such as insect larvae. Silt clogs up stones and gravels, damaging vital fish spawning habitat. Our restoration work will mean that the river bed can support a greater diversity of invertebrates and provide better spawning grounds for species like trout and grayling.

A old relict section of river has recently been restored by the Environment Agency at the site of the old colour works factory in Duffield.

Himalayan Balsam Management

This invasive non-native plant has spread quickly through the valley. It can out-compete native bankside plants, reducing biodiversity. Working with community volunteers, we have been carrying out a programme of removal. This will help stabilise bank-sides and allow our native riverbank flowers to flourish once more. See how much we have managed to do in the last 2 years on this map.

Fish Passage

Weirs can be barriers to fish migration. Migratory fish like salmon and sea trout need to migrate along rivers to complete their life cycle. Other species like brown trout and grayling need to be able to search out suitable spawning habitat to breed. By removing weirs, the river will be able to support healthier fish populations. More fish in the river will mean more food for species like kingfishers and otter.

A weir has already been removed at the old colour works site in Duffield and a gauging weir at Hazelwood has been altered to allow fish passage. A fish pass is planned for the weir at Snake Lane in Duffield. Once these barriers are removed the next main obstruction to fish passage will be at  the Turnditch weir.

Meadow Creation

Wildflower meadow seed has been spread  in order to encourage greater species diversity. Wild flowers such as ox-eye daisy, common knapweed and bird's foot trefoil can be seen on the river's banks in early summer. A mix of flowers will provide food plants for lots of invertebrates which will encourage more birds.

Pond Creation and Restoration

Ponds are particularly good for wildlife, especially frogs, toads, newts and dragonflies. We have been working to restore ponds in the catchment.

Meander Monitors

We have recruited and trained a team of local Meander Monitors, who walk stretches of the river to monitor water quality and to survey for particular species. This will help us to find out how the river is improving over the next few years as we begin to implement the management plan.

Community Involvement

We have held walks and talks to raise awareness about the river. Seven local schools have also been exploring the Ecclesbourne and learning about the creatures that live there. Duffield Meadows Primary School helped us to develop a series of intepretation panels around Duffield.

Farm visits

We have identified many issues contributing to water quality in the catchment, some of which are related to land use and agriculture. The Environment Agency is undertaking targetted visits to provide advice and help to generate solutions.


The main source of phosphate in the river is from sewage treatment. Phosphate is a nutrient and when present in high levels can cause excessive growth of microscopic plants. They create a slimey blanket and can block essential gravel beds, effecting fish and invertebrates, and their decomposition can in turn effect water quality. In 2012 Severn Trent Water Ltd introduced a trial phosphate stripping plant to reduce phosphate in treated sewage effluent at the Wirksworth Waste Water Treatment Plant. This simple chemical process has already reduced the level of Phosphate entering the river by up to 75%!

The Ecclesbourne Way

The Ecclesbourne Way is a new proposal to see a signed walking route through the valley. Running from Duffield to Wirksworth the route will take in some of the best views of the valley and also provide useful information about the history of the local area. This work is being developed by a sub group of the partnership, the Friends of the Ecclesbourne Way and local Ramblers group. If you would like to know more about the group and the route contact John Morrissey