At the weekend I spent a really enjoyable couple of hours with my youngest son when we attended the "Balsam Bash" down at Guessburn in Stocksfield. The event was organised for local children by two local people (Rachel Rees and Ruth Forster) in conjunction with the Tyne Rivers Trust. Around fifteen children showed up on a suprisingly warm and sunny day and they were treated to a morning of mini beast hunting, bark rubbing, 'kick sampling' in the burn and finished with the grande finale, a balsam bash.
Himalayan Balsam, according to the leaflet provided on the day, is "an invasive non-native species which has colonised our river banks suppressing our native flora". The idea of the 'bash' is to locate the balsam growing around the river, uproot it, and stamp on it (the bash) to ensure its demise.
What the event managed to do was combine entertainment with education. My son loved kicking over stones in the burn to dislodge river fauna which were collected in nets and emptied into water-filled boxes for analysis (and later returned to the river, of course).
The children had great fun learning about the variety of wildlife living in our local river system. The balsam bash itself was not just fun and educational (for the adults too!) but was also a service to our local environment. In addition, the event allowed me to walk along a part of the burn I had not seen before and confirmed to me just how lovely our locality is.
My son returned home very happy and very wet and will jump at the chance to do something like this again. My thanks to Rachel, Ruth and the Tyne Rivers Trust for giving us something so fun to do last Saturday.
If you want to learn more about the excellent work of the Tyne Rivers Trust, please do check out their web site and find out how you can get involved.