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River Idle

River Idle

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The River Idle is a river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 in Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire is a county in the East Midlands of England, bordering South Yorkshire to the north-west, Lincolnshire to the east, Leicestershire to the south, and Derbyshire to the west...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. Its source is the confluence of the River Maun
River Maun
The River Maun is a river in Nottinghamshire, England. Its source lies in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, and from there it flows north east through Mansfield , Edwinstowe and Ollerton, these being the heart of the Sherwood Forest area...

 and River Meden
River Meden
The River Meden is a river in Nottinghamshire, England. Its source lies just north of Huthwaite, near the Derbyshire border, and from there it flows north east through Pleasley and Warsop before merging temporarily with the River Maun near Bothamsall...

, near Markham Moor
Markham Moor
Markham Moor is a village which lies five miles south of the town of Retford in the county of Nottinghamshire. Markham Moor lies on the junction between the A1, A638 and A57 roads...

. From there, it flows north through Retford
Retford is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England, located 31 miles from the city of Nottingham, and 23 miles west of Lincoln, in the district of Bassetlaw. The town is situated in a valley with the River Idle and the Chesterfield Canal running through the centre of the...

 and Bawtry
Bawtry is a small market town and civil parish which lies at the point where the Great North Road crosses the River Idle in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England. Nearby towns include Gainsborough to the east, Retford south southeast, Worksop to the southwest and...

 before entering the River Trent
River Trent
The River Trent is one of the major rivers of England. Its source is in Staffordshire on the southern edge of Biddulph Moor. It flows through the Midlands until it joins the River Ouse at Trent Falls to form the Humber Estuary, which empties into the North Sea below Hull and Immingham.The Trent...

 at Stockwith near Misterton
Misterton, Nottinghamshire
Misterton is a village and civil parish in the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghamshire, England.-Geography:Misterton is located in the far north-east of both Bassetlaw and Nottinghamshire between Walkeringham to the South and Haxey to the North. The East of the village is bordered by the River...

. The county boundary with South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England. It has a population of 1.29 million. It consists of four metropolitan boroughs: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and City of Sheffield...

 follows the river for a short distance near Bawtry, and the border with Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 does the same at Idle Stop. Originally, it flowed northwards from Idle Stop to meet the River Don on Hatfield Chase
Hatfield Chase
Hatfield Chase was a low-lying area in South Yorkshire, England which often flooded and is chiefly known from the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633. It was a royal hunting ground until Charles I appointed the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden to drain it in 1626...

, but was diverted eastwards by drainage engineers in 1628.

Most of the land surrounding the river is a broad flood plain. Between Retford and Bawtry, the floodplain is partly occupied by a number of sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

 and gravel pit
Gravel pit
Gravel pit is the term for an open cast working for extraction of gravel. Gravel pits often lie in river valleys where the water table is high, so they may fill naturally with water to form ponds or lakes. Old, abandoned gravel pits are normally used either as nature reserves, or as amenity areas...

s, while beyond Bawtry, the river is constrained by high flood banks, to allow the low lying areas to be drained for agriculture. Its main tributaries are the River Poulter
River Poulter
The River Poulter is a tributary river of the River Idle in Nottinghamshire, England, which rises near Scarcliffe in Derbyshire. It has supplied power for a number of mills along its route, most of which are now gone, although the mill ponds remain, and Cuckney mill building is still used as a...

 and the River Ryton
River Ryton
The River Ryton is a tributary of the River Idle. It is formed from a series of tributaries but begins at Lindrick Common in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. Most of its course is in Nottinghamshire, flowing through the town of Worksop...


The river is navigable to Bawtry, although navigation rights were removed in 1972. It is also important for conservation, with the Idle Washlands and some of the sand and gravel pits of the Idle Valley being designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest.


To the west of the region through which the river flows, the underlying geology is an extensive water-bearing porous rock structure called the Magnesian Limestone aquifer
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology...

. Magnesian limestone is so named because if contains quantities of the mineral Dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

, which is rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

. Further to the east, this rock is covered by another layer of porous rock called the Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

 Sherwood Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 aquifer, which is the major geological component of the area. Continuing eastwards, both are then covered by a layer of Mercia mudstone
Mudstone is a fine grained sedimentary rock whose original constituents were clays or muds. Grain size is up to 0.0625 mm with individual grains too small to be distinguished without a microscope. With increased pressure over time the platey clay minerals may become aligned, with the...

. Where these aquifers reach the surface, they often supply water to the river system, but can also take water from it. This is affected by the extraction of groundwater, particularly for public water supply, and by fracturing of the aquifers as a result of subsidence caused by deep coal mining.

The catchment for the River Idle covers some 280 square miles (725.2 km²), which has an average annual rainfall of 24 inches (609.6 mm) (based on figures from 1961 to 1990). About a third of this finds its way into the rivers. Water quality is moderate. The Environment Agency use a six stage rating scale, from 'A' to 'F', called the General Quality Assessment, to classify rivers. 'A' on the GQA is the best quality of water, while 'F' is the poorest. Factors which affect the quality are levels of ammonia, levels of dissolved oxygen and the Biochemical oxygen demand
Biochemical oxygen demand
Biochemical oxygen demand or B.O.D. is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period. The term also refers to a chemical procedure for...

 (BOD), which measures the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by organisms to break down organic matter in the water. These factors are generally worse when the water is discharged from sewage treatment processes, and tend to be worse in summer, when such discharges make up a greater proportion of the total flow in the river. The tributaries of the Idle are rated at 'C' on the GQA scale, because they pass through urban areas, and there are significant discharges to the rivers from sewage treatment works. The average flow in the River Maun is around 13 Mld (megalitres per day) in dry weather, which is supplemented by Mansfield sewage treatment works, which discharges nearly 23 Mld. Water quality does not improve in the Idle, and remains at 'C' on the GQA scale all the way to the Trent. The Environment Agency maintain gauging stations to measure the flow in the river near the junction with the River Poulter, and to the east of Mattersey
Mattersey is a village in Nottinghamshire, England. It is located 8 miles north of Retford and sits on the border of Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, being just under 14 miles from Doncaster. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 779....



Until the 17th century, the river flowed northwards from a place which subsequently became known as 'Idle Stop', across Hatfield Chase
Hatfield Chase
Hatfield Chase was a low-lying area in South Yorkshire, England which often flooded and is chiefly known from the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633. It was a royal hunting ground until Charles I appointed the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden to drain it in 1626...

. To the west of Wroot
Wroot is a linear village and civil parish in the north of the English county of Lincolnshire.Wroot is located south of the River Torne on the Isle of Axholme very close to the boundary with South Yorkshire. Administratively it forms part of North Lincolnshire. The name is derived from wrot, Old...

, the River Torne
River Torne
The River Torne is a river in the north of England, which flows through the counties of South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. It rises at the Upper Lake at Sandbeck Hall, near Maltby in South Yorkshire, and empties into the River Trent at Keadby pumping station...

 formed two channels, both of which joined the Idle to the east of Wroot, and the Idle continued to join the River Don to the north west of Sandtoft
Sandtoft, Lincolnshire
Sandtoft is a hamlet in the civil parish of Belton, Lincolnshire, England. For administrative purposes it is part of the North Lincolnshire Council area....

. From Dirtness, the Don flowed to the north east, to Adlingfleet
Adlingfleet is a village in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, that forms part of the civil parish of Twin Rivers. It is situated approximately to the east of Goole town centre.-History:...

, where it joined the River Trent near to its confluence with the River Ouse
River Ouse, Yorkshire
The River Ouse is a river in North Yorkshire, England. The river is formed from the River Ure at Cuddy Shaw Reach near Linton-on-Ouse, about 6 miles downstream of the confluence of the River Swale with the River Ure...

. However, in 1626 the Dutch drainage engineer Cornelius Vermuyden
Cornelius Vermuyden
Sir Cornelius Wasterdyk Vermuyden was a Dutch engineer who introduced Dutch reclamation methods to Britain, and made the first important attempts to drain The Fens of East Anglia.-Life:...

 was appointed by King Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 to drain Hatfield Chase. Vermuyden brought over a number of Walloon
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

 partners, known as the Participants, who took shares and performed the drainage work, which was completed two years later. The Idle was affected by this work. Its course was blocked by a dam constructed at Idle Stop, and its waters were diverted along the Bycarrs Dyke, a Roman navigation channel, which joined the River Trent at West Stockwith
West Stockwith
West Stockwith is a village within the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghamshire, England.East Stockwith is a settlement close by, but within the county boundaries of Lincolnshire.-Etymology:...

. In order to isolate the river from Hatfield Chase, a barrier bank was constructed along the northern edge of this channel, for 5 miles (8 km) from the dam to Stockwith. A navigable sluice was built about 1 miles (1.6 km) from the river mouth at Misterton Soss by Vermuyden's nephew, John Liens, between 1629 and 1630, to prevent water from the Trent flooding the land to the south of Bycarrs Dike. The construction was of timber, with high banks running to the Trent on both sides of the channel. Lifting gates gave access to a lock chamber 60 by, which could be used when the Trent was not in flood. Liens was compelled to carry out the work by the Court of Sewers, to prevent the flooding of Misterton and Haxey Commons.

A drainage channel called the New Idle River was constructed in a straight line from Idle Stop to Dirtness, crossing the Torne by a tunnel at Tunnel Pits, about half way along its course. From Dirtness, it was routed to the east to Hirst, where it was joined by the new course of the Torne, and the two channels ran parallel to an outfall at Althorpe on the Trent. There was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the drainage scheme, which resulted in claims and counter-claims in the courts. A petition brought to the Privy Council by several local authorities from Nottinghamshire, alleging that the Participants had caused damage, was judged in their favour. The Commission of Sewers decided that a new cut was needed, to carry water from Misterton, Gringley and Everton to the Trent, and so relieve the Idle, but only about 1.2 miles (2 km) was constructed before landowners objected and the work was not completed. During the English civil war
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, much of the scheme was damaged. The Participants supported the King, while commoners on the Isle of Axholme
Isle of Axholme
The Isle of Axholme is part of North Lincolnshire, England. It is the only part of Lincolnshire west of the River Trent. It is between the three towns of Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Gainsborough.- Description:...

 supported the Parliamentarians. Alleging that the Royalists would invade Axholme from the south, they broke down Misterton sluice and the Snow Sewer flood gates in 1642 or 1643, causing widespread flooding and damage estimated at £20,000. The Sheriff of Lincoln repaired both structures, but a band of 400 villagers destroyed them again. Legal action and rioting continued for some years. Nathaniel Reading, acting for the Participants, raised an 'army' in 1656, and fought a total of 31 pitched battles, including several against the men of Misterton and Gringley. It was not until 1719 that the issues were finally settled and peace returned to the area.
Daniel Defoe visited the river in the early 18th century, and described it as full and quick, though not rapid and unsafe ... with a deep channel, which carries hoys, lighters, barges or flat-bottom'd vessels. He went on to describe the port of Bawtry, which was the limit of navigation, as famous all over the south part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, for it is the place wither all their heavy goods are carried. Traffic included lead from Derbyshire, brought to Bawtry by pack horse, Swedish iron bound for Sheffield, cutlery from Sheffield, iron products from furnaces in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, together with coal and timber.

In 1720, the merchants of East Retford obtained an Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 to allow them to extend the navigation to Retford, and to charge tolls. Although no work appears to have been carried out, the plans were still being considered in 1757, by which time much of the river's trade had been lost, the Derbyshire lead trade now using an improved River Derwent
River Derwent, Derbyshire
The Derwent is a river in the county of Derbyshire, England. It is 66 miles long and is a tributary of the River Trent which it joins south of Derby. For half its course, the river flows through the Peak District....

, and the Sheffield trade using the River Don Navigation
River Don Navigation
The River Don Navigation was the result of early efforts to make the River Don in South Yorkshire, England, navigable between Fishlake and Sheffield...


Boats navigating to Bawtry were shallow-drafted, and were approximately 48 by, capable of carrying between 12 and 24 tons. Trade in 1767 amounted to 4,415 tons, of which some 25 per cent was lead, but the opening of the Chesterfield Canal
Chesterfield Canal
The Chesterfield Canal is in the north of England and it is known locally as 'Cuckoo Dyke'. It was opened in 1777 and ran 46 miles from the River Trent at West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire to Chesterfield, Derbyshire...

 in 1777 provided a more convenient outlet for most goods, and by 1828 commercial traffic had ceased to use the river. There was a wharf at Bawtry, but a large bend just above it was in the way when the Great Northern Railway was constructed. The Railway Company constructed a new cut for the river, but the channel to the wharf soon silted up. Navigation rights on the river ceased with the passing of the Trent River Authority (General Powers) Act of 1972, although boats can still use it.


The banks of the river below Bawtry have been raised so that the river acts as a high level carrier for the drainage of the surrounding land. The area between the river and the Chesterfield Canal
Chesterfield Canal
The Chesterfield Canal is in the north of England and it is known locally as 'Cuckoo Dyke'. It was opened in 1777 and ran 46 miles from the River Trent at West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire to Chesterfield, Derbyshire...

 to the south and the Warping Drain to the north is drained by a network of drainage ditches, which are connected to the river by a number of sluices and pumping stations. Water is pumped from the ditches to avoid flooding of the agricultural land, although the pumping station at Gringley can operate in reverse, supplying water to the ditches for irrigation when required. The outflow into the River Trent is controlled by a pumping station and two sluices. A vertical sluice gate protects the entrance to the Idle, and the pumping station and another sluice are situated further back. When the water level in the Trent is low, the sluice gates allow water to leave the Idle by gravity, but at high tide, four electric pumps are used to pump the outflow into the space between the sluice gates until it can again discharge by gravity. The pumping station was commissioned in 1981, and was the largest all-electric pumping station in Britain at the time. When all four pumps are operating, it can discharge 2,124 tons per minute (3,059 Mld).

A large drainage ditch called the Mother Drain runs parallel to the lower river for the final 10 miles (16.1 km). This was constructed between 1796 and 1801 by the engineer Thomas Dyson, to collect water from the low-lying land to the south of the river. Vermuyden's single sluice was replaced by a triple sluice at this time. The Mother Drain was pumped into the river by two pumping stations at Misterton Soss, the first example of steam engines being used for land drainage outside of the Fens
The Fens
The Fens, also known as the , are a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the fens were drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region....

. The first station, called Kate, was built in 1828 and used a 40 hp beam engine to drive a 34 feet (10.4 m) scoop wheel. The wheel was replaced by a centrifugal pump in 1890, and the beam engine was replaced by a 135 hp twin cylinder steam engine in 1895. The second, called Ada, was built in 1839, and another 34 feet (10.4 m) scoop wheel was powered by a beam engine supplied by Booth & Co, who were based at Park Ironworks in Sheffield
Sheffield is a city and metropolitan borough of South Yorkshire, England. Its name derives from the River Sheaf, which runs through the city. Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and with some of its southern suburbs annexed from Derbyshire, the city has grown from its largely...

. Both became redundant in 1941, when the drainage system was re-organised to feed excess water to a new pumping station at Gringley, containing two Ruston diesel engines driving Gwynnes pumps. By 1910, there was a bridge at this point which included tide gates, similar to the V-gates of a lock, which were designed to shut as the level in the River Trent rose. Both the north and the south pumping station are Grade II* listed buildings, and the south building carries an inscribed stone stating "These works erected 1828, Francis Raynes, George Kelk, William Gauntley (Commissioners), Alfred Smith, Engineer". They have been saved from dereliction by being converted to residences, their function performed by the modern electric pumping station at Gringley, while the tide gates have been replaced by the vertical sluice at the entrance to the river.

The low-lying region to the south of the Mother Drain is managed by the Everton Internal Drainage Board
Internal Drainage Board
An internal drainage board is a type of operating authority which is established in areas of special drainage need in England and Wales with permissive powers to undertake work to secure clean water drainage and water level management within drainage districts...

, who maintain around 34 miles (54.7 km) of watercourses. The Board has been operating in its present form since 1945, but is the successor to a similar body established in 1796 during the reign of King George III. The watercourses are pumped to the river at Gringley and Scaftworth. The Gringley pumping station was fitted with new diesel pumps in the 1940s, and was upgraded again in 2005 when electric pumps and an automatic weedscreen cleaner were installed.

On the north side of the river, drainage is managed by the Finningley Internal Drainage Board, who are responsible for the maintenance of 24.7 miles (39.8 km) of drains and ditches, which feed surplus water to four pumping stations. Hunters Hill, which is just above Haxey Gate bridge, and Idle Stop pumping stations are situated on the banks of the Idle, while Austerfield pumping station is set further back on the Austerfield Drain. The fourth pumping station is at Langholme, on the northern edge of the IDB area, and feeds into the Warping Drain, which joins the River Trent at Owston Ferry.

Above Idle Stop, the river flows through an area where drainage is the responsibility of the Rivers Idle and Ryton Internal Drainage Board. The IDB was re-formed in 1987, its responsibilities having previously been performed by the Severn Trent Water Authority, and manages 53 miles (85.3 km) of watercourses. Those to the west of the Idle drain into the river by gravity at a number of locations, but the region to the east of the river and to the north of Retford
Retford is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England, located 31 miles from the city of Nottingham, and 23 miles west of Lincoln, in the district of Bassetlaw. The town is situated in a valley with the River Idle and the Chesterfield Canal running through the centre of the...

 drains to a single outfall at Wiseton, where a pumping station pumps the water into the river when river levels are too high for gravity flow.


The river is navigable for around 11 miles (17.7 km) from West Stockwith to Bawtry. Access to the river is through the sluice gates, and so the Environment Agency
Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is a British non-departmental public body of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an Assembly Government Sponsored Body of the Welsh Assembly Government that serves England and Wales.-Purpose:...

, who are responsible for the waterway, require 48 hours notice of intent to enter the river. There is also a high toll for doing so, with the result that most boaters that enter the river do so as part of a group, so that the cost can be shared. The space between the two sluices is effectively used as a very large lock, capable of holding a number of boats. Entrance through the first sluice is only possible for an hour either side of high tide. The Environment Agency also require all boaters to sign an indemnity form, which absolves them of any responsibility for loss or damage to boats.

Boats using the river can reach Bawtry bridge. Size is restricted to 59.7 by, with a draft of 2.5 foot (0.762 m) and headroom of 9 feet (2.7 m). There are no public moorings. Large boats can turn round with care either side of Bawtry bridge, and at the point where the River Ryton
River Ryton
The River Ryton is a tributary of the River Idle. It is formed from a series of tributaries but begins at Lindrick Common in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. Most of its course is in Nottinghamshire, flowing through the town of Worksop...

 joins the Idle. Above this point, the river can be navigated by canoes all the way from its source. Access to the river can be gained from a bridge over the River Meden some 110 yards (100.6 m) above the junction with the River Maun, where the Idle starts.

The river also provides water for the Chesterfield Canal. A feeder was constructed in the 1770s, which left the river some 2 miles (3.2 km) above the Retford aqueduct, so that water could flow by gravity to the canal. This arrangement was replaced by an electric pumping station at the foot of the aqueduct in the 1970s.


There are four areas of grassland adjacent to the lower Idle, which are subject to periodic flooding, and which provide habitat for wintering and breeding birds. They form the Idle Washlands Site of Special Scientific Interest
Site of Special Scientific Interest
A Site of Special Scientific Interest is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. SSSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in Great Britain are based upon...

 (SSSI). Historically, a much greater area would have functioned in this way, but much of it is now cut off from the river by high flood defence banks. The Washlands SSSI once covered an area of 250 hectares, which was used as grazing pasture during the summer months and was often covered by shallow flooding in the winter, but during the 1980s, further flood defence work and land drainage reduced this area to 88 hectares. Some work has been carried out under the National Environment Programme to ensure that the wildfowl and wader habitat is not lost completely, and the Environment Agency have produced a water level management plan to further protect the SSSI. Parts of the Mother Drain are also a designated SSSI.

Further up-river, the Sutton and Lound gravel pits are still part of an active quarrying operation which is run by the construction group Tarmac, but some 316 hectares have been designated as an SSSI. They provide an important wetland habitat for a large variety of birds. The pits won the 2008 "British Trust for Ornithology - British Energy Business Bird Challenge" in the category for quarries over 100 ha. A total of 172 different species of birds were recorded, including a number of birds which normally occupy the coastal fringes rather than inland sites. These include ringed plover
Ringed Plover
The Common Ringed Plover or Ringed Plover is a small plover.Adults are 17-19.5 cm in length with a 35–41 cm wingspan. They have a grey-brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with one black neckband. They have a brown cap, a white forehead, a black mask around the eyes...

, little ringed plover
Little Ringed Plover
The Little Ringed Plover is a small plover. Adults have a grey-brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with one black neckband. They have a brown cap, a white forehead, a black mask around the eyes with white above and a short dark bill...

, shelduck
The shelducks, genus Tadorna, are a group of large birds in the Tadorninae subfamily of the Anatidae, the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl such as the geese and swans....

 and oystercatchers
The oystercatchers are a group of waders; they form the family Haematopodidae, which has a single genus, Haematopus. They are found on coasts worldwide apart from the polar regions and some tropical regions of Africa and South East Asia...

. Other birds seen include the black-necked grebe
Black-necked Grebe
The Black-necked Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis, known in North America as the Eared Grebe, is a member of the grebe family of water birds. It occurs on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.-Taxonomy:There are three subspecies:*P. n...

, which is rare in the United Kingdom, and the nightingale
The Nightingale , also known as Rufous and Common Nightingale, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae...

, which was extinct in Nottinghamshire before 2004. The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust have been active in planting reeds to improve the habitat, which are grown at Langford Quarry in a joint venture between Tarmac and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Bird Notes and News was first published in April 1903.The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year . Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years...



The river is largely rural in character, although it passes through the centre of Retford and skirts the south-eastern fringe of Bawtry. The village of Eaton, on the southern edge of the town of East Retford, is believed to occupy the site of a battle in 616 in which the East Angles
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

 under Raedwald
Raedwald of East Anglia
Rædwald ; also Raedwald or Redwald, was a 7th century king of East Anglia, a long-lived Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. He was the son of Tytila of East Anglia and a member of the Wuffingas dynasty , who were the first rulers of the East Angles...

 defeated the Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

ns under Æthelfrith
Æthelfrith of Northumbria
Æthelfrith was King of Bernicia from c. 593 until c. 616; he was also, beginning c. 604, the first Bernician king to also rule Deira, to the south of Bernicia. Since Deira and Bernicia were the two basic components of what would later be defined as Northumbria, Æthelfrith can be considered, in...

, and Æthelfrith was killed. The battle resulted in the establishment of Edwin
Edwin of Northumbria
Edwin , also known as Eadwine or Æduini, was the King of Deira and Bernicia – which later became known as Northumbria – from about 616 until his death. He converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627; after he fell at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, he was venerated as a saint.Edwin was the son...

as king of Northumbria.

Bawtry bridge, which carries the A631 road to Gainsborough over the river, was constructed in 1810 by Mr Flavel of Wetherby, at a cost of £3,000. It consists of a large central arch flanked by a slightly smaller arch on both sides. The road was widened in 1940, by extending the bridge on its south side, but retains is original character because the south facade was carefully removed and reused to face the new construction.