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River Hamble signs encourage nature-friendly watersports

28 July 2022

New signs along the River Hamble will help paddleboarders and kayakers stay wildlife aware when they’re out on the water.

The signs have been installed by Bird Aware Solent to provide step-by-step guidance for minimising disturbance to wildlife. They will also let people know what birds and other natural sights to look out for along the river.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire, the body that oversees Bird Aware, said: ‘We’re grateful to paddleboarders, canoeists and kayakers who take steps to avoid disturbing the wonderful wildlife that shares our waterways. By following the Bird Aware Coastal Code, we can help nature thrive by looking out for birds, moving away if they become alert and following requests on signs.’

According to the annual Watersports Participation Survey, the number of people taking part in watersports almost doubled to nearly 13 million in the last year.

Paddle sports give people a chance to connect with nature and appreciate the landscape from a unique perspective. The banks along the River Hamble are a particular attraction, providing a tranquil setting, rich in wildlife with beautiful secluded creeks.

Bird Aware Solent is working with other local organisations to help ensure growing numbers of paddleboarders and kayakers don’t have a negative impact on wildlife in the area.

The new signs encourage people to keep a careful look out for birds and other wildlife, to avoid launching and landing on vulnerable wildlife habitats such as islands and marshes, and to minimise sudden changes in direction.

Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards are used on most parts of the River Hamble. The Harbour Authority advises users to avoid the main channel. The most popular area is above the M27 bridge where there are few boats. The river is quiet and natural with inlets to explore, as well as a pub at the end of the Curbridge arm – the Horse and Jockey. The Botley arm of the river is a little longer than the Curbridge arm.

The two arms of the Upper Hamble are only accessible at high water and a couple of hours either side. The ebb tide is strong and can exceed 3 knots. Most people launch from the public slipways at Lower Swanwick or Bursledon and head up on the flood tide and return on the ebb.

River Hamble signs encourage nature-friendly watersports