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I have been fortunate enough to join up with the West Lothian Ageing Well Walking Group – Craigshill branch. I was warmly welcomed by the group on a previous walk at Howden where I talked about the rock ramp we created there. I decided I could crash another of their walks and talk about the work we did at Wallace Mill weir where we reinstated the by-pass channel. My interlude was nice and brief although I had to quickly round up the early pacesetters at the front. This could have been due to the noise coming from the weir which was wonderfully loud. The amount of water cascading down the weir was evidential of the problems faced by migratory fish on a barrier such as this. It also showcased the ineffective nature of the existing box pass on the weir face.


Having talked about the Howden rock ramp on a previous walk it was good to make a comparison between the work at Howden and the work at Wallace Mill. The idea that addressing issues like the Almond barriers is very site specific, each one requires unique planning, design and construction. With regards to Wallace Mill weir, fortunately there was an existing by-pass channel, a structure that was deemed suitable for improvement. The work was undertaken and completed in the spring of 2019 and there is some great time-lapse footage of the work.

We continued towards Almondell and Calderwood country park, stopping along the way at points of interest, or areas I can waffle on about. This included the weir at Mid Calder and the water treatment works, areas of focus for the trust and the RiverLife program. Mid Calder weir, like other barriers on the Almond, prevents migratory fish from accessing the habitat upstream of the weir. This is something that the RiverLife project was designed to address – the part that requires the most funding – with large capital works. Following on from the weir and ambling along the path with the sun shining the conversation was inevitably steered towards wastewater treatment plants. It is hard not to talk about the plant as it dominates the landscape. With me on hand it was automatic that questions would arise about its impact on the environment and it opened the discussion about treatment plants, especially with the current focus on nature and pollution. We talked about balancing the human population with wildlife, about regulation and the pros and cons of having a nationalised water body. We could have walked and chatted on through the afternoon such was the quality of the debate and lovely conditions on the day. One thing I stressed was the importance of the public in scrutinising the local environment and pointing out on all platforms the state of your location; awareness raising is stage one in raising standards and developing change for the better.

Wandering on we were all mesmerised by the autumnal colours with the leaves on the ground and what is left on the trees. The views were magical as we entered the country park and the end of our walk.

If you want any further information about the work of the Trust or the West Lothian Ageing Well program check out the website or all the social media platforms. Or contact Avril Clerkson on the following email.

Avril Clerkson aclerkson@westlothianleisure.com