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26th November 2020

A journey along the River Dee, NE Scotland

Scotland boasts a hugely varied coastline and a rich offering of inland waters in both rural and urban settings which host an amazing array of riches, come in all shapes and sizes, and are greatly valued and cherished by communities and visitors alike. To mark the Year of Coasts and Waters, scientists of Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), the James Hutton Institute and the Dee Catchment Partnership embarked on a catchment triathlon of the River Dee, travelling its 88-mile length and capturing their amazing adventure on a short film.

CREW manager Dr Rachel Helliwell and Partnership chair Prof Marc Stutter hiked, biked and canoed their way for three days from the Pools of Dee high in the Cairngorms to the sea at Aberdeen harbour. Besides capturing the beauty of the catchment, the film shot by the pair summarises the main pressures on Scotland’s water environment, such as climate, land use and changes in demographics.

“It was a great adventure”, Rachel says. “We wanted to describe the catchment from the source to the mouth – how the river changes along its course, how the various pressures on the river change along that journey.

The film covers a range of issues and provides an update on how academia, public bodies and the water industry are working together as a ‘Hydro Nation’ to overcome these challenges. “In the mountains we discussed climate change and the impact of less snow on river flows and temperatures, then as we cycled through the middle reaches of the catchment we addressed topics such as forestry and land management, and in the lower reaches we discussed the importance of agriculture, increased development in response to population pressures, and flooding,” she explains.

“We really want to get across the different perspective gleaned from travelling along the river at a slow pace and inspire a curiosity in the Dee and its catchment.”

Marc adds: “The river essentially has three zones, which mapped quite neatly onto the three days we spent travelling it, using three different modes of transport. We were keen to show the connections between the top and bottom of the river – and that issues at the bottom of the catchment depend very much on what happens at the top.”

The pair hope that the video will serve as a great teaching tool to showcase the importance of sound catchment management, and hopefully appeal to the public too. The film, titled “Journey along the River Dee, NE Scotland” is available to watch on YouTube here: