Everyone knows what a river is, right? It’s a beautiful feature of the landscape, it’s great for wildlife and it’s a wonderful place to take the children for a walk. All that’s true but a river, indeed any feature of the landscape, is also a complex expression of the prehistory, natural history, human history, mythology and daily bustle that have formed it and surround it still. A river such as the Gaywood filters first through chalk laid down a hundred million years ago in a warm ocean. A river’s course is dictated in part by the slow but inexorable movement of glaciers across our landscape during the hundreds of thousands of years of the Ice Age. A river slices through its landscape and is shaped in turn by humans with designs on its water, its fish, its rich soils, and its inherent energy, or by humans fearful of its impacts on their homes and streets. A river is shaped by beavers too, though we have long since banished these from
Reproduced with NWT permission.