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Stiffkey Lonely On Freshers Creek

How to help your local river

Reporting river issues

If you walk by a river fairly regularly, you can help keep It as healthy as possible by noticing any of the following issues and reporting them to the correct organisation. Please try and include photographic evidence wherever possible.

River flow issues or non-flow

If you notice changes in the flow of the river or it isn’t moving at all. This could signify an obstruction. Some obstructions are natural, others are man-made and specifically placed following restoration in order to change the flow of the river for its benefit. However, some are accidental and can cause significant flood damage elsewhere. Any concerns regarding the flow of a river should be reported in the first instance to the Environment Agency Incident Report hotline: 0800 807060 (Freephone, 24 hr service) and follow their advice.


If you notice a change in the river which could signify pollution of any kind into the watercourse, such as silt, dead fish, litter, fly tipping, an unusual colour then you need to contact the Environment Agency (EA).

Different organisations have different responsibilities with regards to the care of your local river, the Environment Agency will be able to advise you on who best to contact with respect to all types of pollution.  Contact the Environment Agency Incident Report hotline: 0800 807060 (Freephone, 24 hr service)

Non-native Species

Look out for specific non-native species on and around local rivers such as:

  • Floating Pennywort
  • Giant Hogweed
  • Himalayan Balsam
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Signal Crayfish

Please report any you find to the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat. Again, photos would help to verify the sighting. For further general information on non-native species see www.nonnativespecies.org


Report any flooding that is not usual to the area to the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0345 9881188 (24hr service). 

A boat called Jenny at low tide in Morston

Get Involved in River Conservation

  • River Glaven Conservation Group – The River Glaven Conservation Group (RGCG) was formed in 1999 with the objective to protect the River Glaven from further degradation and restore important habitats for wildlife within the river corridor. They are an active group and do have volunteer activity days and events throughout the year.
  • Gaywood Valley Conservation Group – The Gaywood Valley Conservation Group are a group of volunteers who are interested in all aspects of wildlife. Their aim is to provide and maintain the wildlife habitats in the Gaywood Valley area.
  • Norfolk Rivers Trust – The Norfolk Rivers Trust was set up in 2011 with the objective of restoring and conserving Norfolk’s rivers and wetland habitats. The trust undertakes restoration work as funding allows and as such can provide occasional volunteer work and events.
  • Internal Drainage Board (IDB) – Norfolk Rivers Drainage Board carry out capital improvement works and regular maintenance of the drainage infrastructure that are vitally important services to help keep the area safe. The Environment Agency are in the process of devolving some of their responsibilities with regards to the on-going maintenance of some of Norfolk Rivers to the IDB.
chalk rivers

Chalk Rivers

There are only around 200 chalk rivers in the world. Around 160 of these are in Britain. Norfolk accounts for about 10% of the world’s population of chalk rivers, which are incredibly important habitats for a range of species thanks to the clear calcium rich water and gravel beds where fish can lay their eggs.

Small changes to land management, water quality, silt inundation, pollution, abstraction and the threat of non-native species can all change the special qualities of these rare habitats. It is therefore important that these rivers are safeguarded for the future.

Norfolk coast chalk rivers map

The 9 Chalk Rivers Project

This project worked in partnership with the Norfolk Rivers Trust. It ended in April 2015 and made improvements to the rivers as well as enabling local community involvement.

Find out more about the 9 Chalk Rivers Project. >

You can also download the catchment plans on the Norfolk Rivers Trust website. Go to the rivers pages on the Norfolk Rivers Trust, click on the relevant river and the plans are on the right under River Plans.

Watch a short film produced by the Norfolk Rivers Trust with Stephen Fry narrating ‘Chalk Stream of Norfolk’. >

Download the 9 Chalk Rivers Project Engagement Report >

River State of the Environment Reports

The Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service has produced reports on four of the chalk rivers.

To find out why each river is so important, read through the report:

Download the River Babingley State of the Environment Report >

Download the River Gaywood State of the Environment Report >

Download the River Glaven State of the Environment Report >

Download the River Stiffkey State of the Environment Report >

Get To Know Your River – River Walks

Many rivers are not very accessible but there are some places which do have public access, permissive access or viewpoints where you can see the river. We have included some routes below.

If you are a school looking to find out more about your local river you can find out more on our Schools page. There you can find information about where to take students, advice on sessions, river information and a template risk assessment.

Click on each river walk to download a map showing river viewpoints and walks.

Babingley River Walk 1 >

Babingley River Walk 2 >

Gaywood River Walk 1 >

Gaywood River Walk 2 >

Glaven River Walk 1 >

Glaven River Walk 2 >

Stiffkey River Walk 1 >

Stiffkey River Walk 2 >

Safety Considerations When Walking By Rivers

1. Always dress accordingly and be prepared with sensible shoes and waterproof clothing in case the weather turns.

2. If you are out walking on your own let someone know where you are and roughly what time you will be back.

3. Look at the route on a map prior to your visit to check that there is public access.

4. If you are going to visit privately owned land always ask permission from the landowner first.

5. If taking a dog be sure to keep it on its lead if you are walking near cattle and keep out of their way.

6. Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.

7. Try not to walk too close to the banks of the river. Some are very steep and you may have difficulty getting out if you fall in.

8. After heavy rainfall the floodplain can turn very marshy and this can be deceptive to the walker. If there has been a lot of rainfall and the ground feels spongy keep to the edge of the floodplain away from the river. These marshy areas can be deeper than they look.

9. Fords are great places to paddle in in the summer but be aware that cars still sometimes use these. Also make sure that young children are supervised when paddling in fords.

10. Take your litter home where there are no bins available.

11. If cycling be aware of horses, walkers and farm animals and slow down when approaching them.

12. Use sustainable transport where possible.

13. Stick to paths unless wider access is available.

14. Use stiles, gaps and gates, do not climb over walling or through hedges as this damages the field boundaries.

15. Be respectful of historic sites and monuments.

16. Be aware of rocks and slippery surfaces if you are paddling or pond dipping as some rocks can be sharp. Wear sensible footwear.

17. If the river has rubbish or shows signs of contamination do not swim or paddle here. Instead contact the Environment Agency and report it.

18. Do not touch plants and fungi that you are unsure about as some of these can be poisonous. Do not pick wild flowers as this is valuable habitat for bankside creatures.

19. Always carry hand wipes or antibacterial hand gel if you are pond dipping to ensure that any cuts do not become infected.

20. Always dry out pond nets after using them for pond dipping to ensure that you are not transferring any non-native species to other water courses.

River Maps

View detailed catchment maps for the Babingley, Gaywood, Glaven and Stiffkey Rivers here.

Babingley River catchment map >

Gaywood River catchment map >

Glaven River catchment map >

Stiffkey River catchment map >

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