Eels Project

What is the Glaven Eel Project?

Norfolk Rivers is now delivering a Norfolk Coast Partnership Heritage Lottery Fund project working with eels on the River Glaven.  Over the next two and a bit years we aim to find out more about the populations and movements of eels in the Glaven catchment, work to improve their habitat and also deliver some exciting heritage and education work with local schools and communities.  We’ll be working in partnership with a number of organisations including Norfolk Coast Partnership, University College London, The River Glaven Conservation Group, CEFAS, EIFCA, the Environment Agency, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Holt Hall and the National Trust, each of whom has a specific interest in the mysterious eel.

Since 2013 60% of elver catches are legally required to be made available for restocking and educational purposes. In the Spring some of the elvers caught in the River Severn are given to Norfolk Rivers Trust who in turn provide local schools with some elvers to care for and in the summer the schools release the elvers into the local river. We’ll be working with schools at Walsingham, Holt, Blakeney, Sheringham and Astley, all located near the River Glaven. The schools will join Ursula, the Eel Education Officer, in a half- day session on the river bank learning about eel conservation, water quality and river restoration through educational games and activities. The aim is to encourage young people to engage with their local river and take responsibility for their impact on the local environment through education and changing behaviours.

Although we know that eel numbers have declined precipitously in recent decades we’ve already had some success recording elvers moving into the Glaven and older eels in the river and associated ponds and lakes.We will be working on reconnecting back-waters and ponds in order to improve habitat for eels, we’ll be felling trees in flood-risk-free areas and we will also be implementing new eel passes to improve eel and fish passage upstream. Each photo below has a little story… enjoy 🙂


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Some lively eels caught on a survey day in the River Glaven

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Arnie and Jonah using a very sophisticated piece of technology, an Eel Measurer, to record the length of eels caught in the Glaven

In September Astley Village Primary school released some elvers into the river at Letheringsett Ford. You can read more about it here!

In June 2016 Sheringham Community Primary released their eels at Natural Surroundings. Read more here!

In early July the Pilgrim federation schools joined us for their eel release. Read more here!

Holt Community Primary did their eel release on a very warm day in July… photos here!

At the end of term, Astley primary joined us for their eel release and you can see more here!



Working in schools, creating masterpieces

The HLF Glaven Eel project aims to connect people with their local rivers, so part of the project involves creating an eel trail for locals and tourists. Taking inspiration from some other trails around the country, we decided to combine science and art as well as involving the local community. We contacted a number of art groups in the local area asking for some creative input and our first entry was the award-winning Susan Purser-Hope,  a glass artist in North Norfolk. Susan’s speciality is working with community groups and part of the eel project was to engage with local schools so Susan ran some workshops with Walsingham and Hindringham schools to create 3 glass panels relating to eel life cycles and habitats. The work coincided perfectly with World Fish Migration Day event hosted at Cley Marshes visitor centre so we arranged for the children’s art work to be exhibited at the event, along with some glass eels on display and a pond dipping session to look at eel prey and habitat.


Teeny tiny children from schools in the Glaven catchment learned all about eel habitat and eel life cycles, and were asked to create a picture showing what they had learned… and these are the spectacular results!

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These are glass tiles comprised of lots of individual tiles made by the children from schools in the Glaven catchment, with the help of the artist, Susan Purser-Hope. These tiles can be viewed at the gorgeous Letheringsett Mill!

Thornage Common:

The work done at Thornage Common was primarily survey work and habitat creation. There were a number of non-native trees along the stretch and it was well shaded so we took down a couple of non-natives and unhealthy trees and plopped them into the river, carefully creating pools and riffles which provide excellent homes for eels as well as for invertebrates that eels eat. These riffles are also good habitat for gravel spawning fish and the pools are where big brown trout lurk. Kingfishers love to fish from branches hanging over the water and we’ve seen them there while we’ve been working.


Tree felling at Thornage Common


Bayfield new river surveys:

We’ve been regularly surveying along the River Glaven for eels and other fish. One of our favourite places to survey is the new stretch of river created at the Bayfield Estate. We’ve caught an amazing variety of fish there including eels, lamprey, brown trout, stickleback,bullhead and stone loach,  and we’re very pleased to see how well it’s settled in after some pretty dramatic changes in the last few years. 


Big Bayfield eel


Variety is the spice of life… all the fish!


A stunning, stunned pike… it was fine when we released it.


Some huge bullheads, stone loach and a lamprey


Discover The Mysterious Glaven Eel:

We’ve been working with Richard from Ark Creative to design a leaflet guiding readers to points of eel interest in the Glaven Valley. With much to-ing and fro-ing we’ve got the designs in place and are almost at the state of printing. Watch this space for the printable version so you can discover the Glaven Eel for yourself! You can also see the eel-inspired art created by Susan Purser-Hope and Henry Stephens along the way.

Susan works with glass and creates colourful and exciting pieces that catch the light just right! 


Henry works with cut steel and creates wild pieces, fitting in perfectly in North Norfolk.



Upcycled bicycle parts make an awesome eel, located in Bayfield Low Meadow, near the Glandford ford.



These swimming swarm of eels can be found on the Norfolk Coastal Path at Blakeney, looking over across the freshes where the glass eels arrive in Norfolk.