Monday, December 20, 2010

Glenavy River Ice - Thank You Angling Club

View from ice on the middle of the Glenavy River, looking out towards Lough Neagh and Langford Lodge.  Early afternoon, December 8th 2010.

We're now in the middle of the second blast of Arctic air of the winter and its only December 20th!

The area around Glenavy and the Lough Shore has had two heavy snow falls in December and there was light snow cover from November 28th.  Highly unusual!  On both occasions there was significantly more snow around the Lough than over the mountain at Hannahstown, or in Belfast.  Ten inches of "powder" snow fell on Friday.

For me, the first big environmental story of the winter was the lower stretch of the Glenavy River freezing from December 6th to 10th.

Through the severe winters in the 1980s the lower stretch of the Glenavy River seemed to be frozen every year, culminating in January 1987 when the ice was 4-6 inches thick.  However, there hadn't been enough ice to walk on at any time since, including last January, when the river remained open long after many of the bays on Lough Neagh had frozen.  Our assumption was that pollution and the severely dregadated state of the river was fending off the frosts.[1]

This run was broken in early December after a series of brutal frosts over a five day period, with lows reportedly reaching -12C to -13C early on the evening of December 7th.  A few light snow showers passed through after 10pm lifting the temperature and most likely preventing an all time record low.

The ice on the river was very solid on December 8th, even though the river was ice free on the 6th.  This allowed me to get some great photos from the river.  Do note that the water is 3-4 ft deep at most, so no real danger of drowning!

I can't help but think that all the great work done by the Glenavy River Angling and Conservation club over the last few years ant the resulting transformation in water quality was as big a factor as the severe frosts in the river freezing.[2]  The ice was another strong sign of recovery in the ecosystem.

Amazingly, the shallow bay at the mouth of the Glenavy River was also frozen on December 8th and I got some photos out there also.  It had to have been the earliest there was ever strong ice on the Lough!

Now the freeze has returned with a vengeance it looks like I may have to eat my words on January 2010 being the last time our part of Lough Neagh would freeze.[3]  Watch this space!


[1]  Details of the severe pollution in the lower stretch of the Glenavy River up to 2008 can be provided on request.  See also:
[2]  The Glenavy River Angling and Conservation club was founded in 2008.  They have been actively restocking the river and fighting pollution over the last two and a half years.  See:
[3]  See the earlier blog post:

Rams Island, taken from the ice on Hillis's bay a hundred meters North of the mouth of the Glenavy River.  Early afternoon, December 8th 2010.


  1. Looks like the Glenavy Angling Club have been very successful in getting the river cleaned up. I hope their hard work hasn't been in vain - I can't see the Glenavy River ever freezing again if there were 60 tonnes a day of warm water being pumped in to it from the Moy Park incinerator!

  2. Claire, thanks for the comment.
    Note the planned discharge is 60 tonnes per hour, not 60 tonnes per day.