Waterways of the Stroud Valleys

Historic lifeblood for its people, lifeline for its wildlife

The history of Stroud is founded on wool and water. Both were essential to the textile industry on which the town developed. The streams of the Painswick, Slad, Toadsmoor and Nailswoth valleys and the River Frome into which they all flowed. These provided power for the earliest mills. They are still flowing and now vital corridors for wildlife.

With the industrial age, the mills benefited from the building of the canal, which brought raw materials to them and took away finished goods for distribution around the globe. Lying in an abandoned state for over a century, the canal was reclaimed by nature. A walk along its towpath revealed how important it had become as a habitat and route for wildlife.

Its restoration is underway. Phase 1 complete, Phase 2 imminent! and we are beginning to appreciate even more its importance as a wildlife corridor. On their journeys east and west, the canal and the River Frome are often very close companions. Add several mill ponds, a park lake and the other streams to the mix and together they are vital for wildlife in the area. Not just resident species, but those moving from area to area as they follow the watercourses and hill contours.

The Stroud Nature offices are located in Fromehall Mill, a stone’s throw from the canal and much to our own delight, right beside the mills historic mill pond and the River Frome, separated from each other by a tree lined bank.

Much to our delight, because we are able to enjoy the sights and sounds of running water, the wall of green foliage that lines the river and is visible through our office windows and the wildlife that lives and moves along this stretch of river and between the river, pond and canal.

Some species are more visible than others and easily missed. Being here five days a week however, increases our opportunities of seeing a greater number. Keep your eyes peeled anywhere along our rivers for Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Dipper. The one in the film below was filmed from our office window. Little Egret, Little Grebe, Goosander, and Mandarin Duck and Common Sandpiper are among the species seen during 2017 and 18 in and on our local waters. In summer the Emperor Dragonfly can be seen hovering over the canal in Wallbridge, two minutes from the town centre.

Dipper on the River Frome

It is vital therefore that we look after these water resources, so that wildlife can continue to navigate them all the way into the centre of our town for us to enjoy.


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