Allen Valley Angling & Conservation is based in Allendale, Northumberland

We promote the sport of fishing and conservation of the River East Allen for anglers and the local community.

Allen Valley Angling & Conservation

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Conservation on River East Allen


£27,544 habitat improvement grant !

Allen Valley Angling & Conservation has just been awarded a prestigious river restoration grant of £27,544 from the SITA Trust Enriching Nature Programme. We will use the grant to carryout a river restoration project at five sites between Allenheads and Allendale Town. We plan to restore over half a kilometre of severely eroded river bank using a technique of willow weaving called spiling. As the willow grows it protects the river bank from erosion and creates a natural diverse habitat for wildlife.


Paul Frear, Secretary and founder member of Allen Valley Angling & Conservation said, ‘ the club is absolutely delighted to receive this grant from the SITA Trust as it will allow us to create some fantastic riverbank habitat for wildlife.’  Paul also went on to add, ‘ the habitat also enhances the wild brown trout and sea trout that we love to fish for because the willow reduces silt entering the river that can be harmful to fish.’

Sarah Kirkpatrick, Regional Fund Manager from the SITA Trust explained, ‘ the SITA Trust provides funding to biodiversity conservation projects through the Landfill Communities Fund. We are delighted to have been able to support this project which will improve the ecological status of the river and will benefit not only the areas where willow spiling will take place, but the river as a whole’.


We have identified three immediate priorities that will enable us to start to make a real and noticeable difference to the River East Allen and we have run a number of events and initiatives to get these projects under way.

Project 1

Eradication of Himalayan Balsam:

We estimate that it is possible to completely eradicate this non-native, highly invasive plant from the source of the River East Allen to our bottom limit at Allendale within 3 years.



  • Allow native plant species to re-establish
  • Over time, stabilisation of river banks
  • Benefits to riparian owners
  • Improve success rates of similar projects downstream


Paul holding Himalayan Balsam

The problem is that the species spreads rapidly and grows in dense clusters - choking native species, reducing the ecological value of the land and leaving the soil vulnerable to erosion. When the spread and growth of this species is allowed to continue unchecked, smaller native plant species can be completely prevented from growing. This causes problems on riverbanks which are dependent on the root systems of the native species to provide stability. Without the native plants binding the soil with their roots, when the Himalayan Balsam dies back in autumn the riverbanks are susceptible to erosion in periods of heavy rain fall.

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Project 2

Target old tip nr. Catton as a starting project for bank repairs:

This site offers relatively easy access – making it possible to involve community groups alongside professionals - to learn the art of willow spiling



  • Town Beat is most popular
  • Halt rapid erosion of land
  • Protect nearby trout pools
  • Community involved / aware
Bank Erosion on Allendale Town Beat
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Project 3

Careful Tree Work


Sympathetically manage woody debris, using groups of organised volunteers for easier work whilst involving professional tree surgeons to tackle trickier obstructions.


  • Improve fish passage
  • Manage overhang to improve access for angling
  • Retain essential camouflage)
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Practice Catch and Release Fishing

In addition to following Environment Agency rules in respect of the minimum size that a fish must be, before it can be killed, as well as limiting the number of migratory fish species that our members are allowed to remove from the river to a maximum of 5 in any one season (download the fishing rules for full details) we also encourage catch and release fishing as a crucial aspect of our conservation efforts.

It's important to remember that the gills and internal organs of fish are very easily damaged from being poorly handled after having being caught. Fish that show signs of bleeding will usually swim off, but will probably die within a few hours.

We therefore ask all anglers to observe the simple guidelines for successful catch and release fishing, which are necessary to maintain a sustainable fishing resource and ensure enjoyable angling.

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We welcome your input in terms of highlighting issues that you find when walking and fishing the river. Please do contact us with your suggestions.

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Identifying Himalayan Balsam

Height 1 to 2m
Stem Reddish
Leaves 3 in whorl, elyptical, red toothed
Flower Purple-pink (occasionally white)
Seeds In explosive pod upto 25mm long

Each plant can produce over 2000 seeds which are distributed by their exploding seed heads.

The explosion is triggered by movement and can propel the seeds up to 5 metres, often into the rivers and waterways themselves, which then help to further the distribution of the species. For this reason, pulling the plants out when they have full seed heads needs to be done with care!



Himalayan Balsam Plant
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Bank Erosion

There is extensive bank erosion all along the River East Allen - particularly along the Allendale Town Beat.  Example of bank repairs carried out by AONB at Dirt Pot on the Allenheads Fishing Beat

River Bank Repairs at Dirt Pot
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Tree Work

Woody debris can be extremely beneficial - providing shade and camouflage for fish as creating deeper pools where fish will feed.

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Catch & Release Fishing Tips

  • Bring the fish carefully to the edge and unhook it while it remains in the water
  • Land the fish as quickly as possible to minimise stress and exhaustion
  • If possible, release the fish in the water without touching
  • If necessary, use a knotless net to control the fish
  • If you must handle the fish, hold it gently upside down with wet hands. Fish lie more quietly in this position
  • Always remove the hook using long-nosed forceps
  • Always use barbless hooks
  • If necessary, support the fish gently upright in the water until it swims away
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