Why not spend Valentine’s Day by a river?

Well the obvious answer is that it’s too cold and too wet. I don’t know about you but I’m getting pretty tired of winter 2012/2013. In Ipswich we had settling snow yesterday and localised surface water flooding today.

Rivers are a great place to spend with your loved one. If we think about all of the great cinematic love stories they pretty much all nearly happened by a river; the final scene of Brief Encounter (originally planned to occur at a ferry port, not a railway station), Jack and Rose in Titanic (river/sea, it’s much the same) and the film Casablanca (the Oum Er-Rbia River famously runs around 40 miles away from the city).

There are some lovely riverside walks

OK, so perhaps rivers don’t feature THAT heavily in romantic films, but that doesn’t mean that rivers aren’t romantic. Indeed technical geomorphological terms that explain river form and functioning can be downright saucy. Lateral accretion, vertical incision and bed-rock (as in ‘I can make your bed rock’ – a classic back-of-the-university-hoodie phrase for geomorphologists/geologists) would all make their way into the script of Carry On Geomorphology. I certainly know that Simon’s research is a bit ooh-er missus, and full of innuendo with all of his key members and large wood.

Sexy time aside, rivers really are genuinely lovely places to be. The sound of the water is soothing and the riparian environment is often full of pretty insects and birds. You can carve you and your partners name in a tree with a suitable bridging message such as ‘4eva’, and then push the tree in the river to increase flow diversity. You could punt or row down the river as your companion looks on at the stunning fluvial processes happening all around them, or take a stroll down a barge tow path, hand-in-hand.

Although today is Valentine’s Day I will have to wait until tomorrow to share one of my local rivers with my girlfriend. My plan is to take the train to Manningtree and then walk up and down the lower River Stour. Apparently there are footpaths on either side of the river so you can walk downstream one way and then upstream the other, completing a loop. As well as being close to an RSBP site near the Stour estuary, the walk will incorporate one of the most fascinating structures I’ve ever seen – the Cattawade Sluice. I won’t go into great detail about this now as it’s not particularly romantic and I plan to blog about the sluice in the near future, but what I will say is that it needs to be seen to be believed…

The Cattawade Sluice

So why not spend Valentine’s Day by a river? Have a picnic. Try not to let your lover or your dog cause too much bank erosion and take your litter with you when you leave. Think about how wonderful our rivers are and how much pleasure you get from being near them. They’re magical places, and you should share that magic with someone you love.


About Trevor Bond

A Geomorphology Technical Officer at the Environment Agency. All opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessary reflect the views of my employer.
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