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Midlands Canoe Club member celebrates birthday with river clean!

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, one member of Midland Canoe Club (MCC) based in Darley Abbey on the River Derwent, decided she wanted to celebrate her 60th birthday in style. So what do you do these days for a lockdown birthday? Organise a COVID compliant, socially distanced river clean, of course!


The Club member in question organised a “60 minute challenge” to tie in with her 60th birthday, and persuaded her fellow paddlers to clean-up the River Derwent with her. 

Paddlers from MCC took to the water and cleared large sections of the river from the toll bridge in Darley Abbey, just above the weir, up to the A38 flyover near Ford Lane. Keen to get as much help as possible, she also joined the Facebook groups Spotted Darley Abbey and Darley and Nutwood Nature Reserve to ask for local volunteers to support the clean-up. And they happily obliged!

Several members of the local community, along with the nearby Earl of Harrington’s Angling Club, duly obliged to help. In a true show of community spirit, they walked the banks collecting litter whilst MCC members, working from canoes and kayaks, cleared rubbish in and around the river’s edge. 

Along the way the walkers and paddlers picked up pieces of plastic and paper that were caught in trees and branches. They also found traffic cones that had somehow found their way into the river (no doubt from the severe flooding), several tyres, a plastic pallet and assorted other items. The items collected were bagged up and are now awaiting collection by the City Council who have become well accustomed to helping with the Club's river cleans.

Not quite plastic related, but one find that did take everyone by surprise was the discovery of Brook Lamprey! The lamprey were uncovered in some tyres by younger members of MCC’s Paddle Power group. On close inspection these river predators could give you nightmares, but they are harmless to humans! 

This stretch of the Derwent is alive with wildlife. Along the route you almost always find geese, swans, ducks, kingfishers, buzzards, herons, sand martins and mink. If you are very lucky you may even see the illusive otters!

– Midlands Canoe Club Member

One group member added. "It's a beautiful stretch of river, made that much more pleasant by the Clubs efforts to keep it clean." 

This event was not the first time that MCC has organised or taken part in a river clean-up, but the support of the local community from Darley Abbey will certainly be welcomed again in any future events. 

Another member of the clean up said: "The local river is thriving and we need to look after it in any way we can if it is to keep on thriving, even if that’s just taking away one piece of rubbish each."

Have you taken part in a clean up recently? Make sure you register it on our clean up's map so we can shout about all the great work paddlers are doing in their communities! Click here to register >

Pst, and don't forget, we're supporting Surfers Against Sewage for their biggest clean up operation yet! The Million Mile Clean up is calling on paddlers to get involved and clean their rivers. Can your club get involved? Click here for more info.