Soar

Beginning near Hinckley and travelling through Leicester and past Loughborough, the Soar is one of the major tributaries of the river Trent joining it at Trent Lock.

En route, the Soar flows past market towns whose heritage is intrinsically intertwined with the river. Barrow-upon-Soar, Stanford-, Normanton-, Kingston- and Ratcliffe-on-Soar each carry the Soar in their identity.

The Soar’s heritage is equally connected to theirs. As villages began to industrialise and grow into towns and cities, their relationship and demands on the river changed. This is true for the Soar-a river that partially diverts into the Grand Union Canal linking Birmingham and London, made navigable, straightened to fit new developments and slowed to power Leicester’s clothing manufactories. As life along the riverbank changed, the river did, too.

While the Soar has been predominantly affected by urbanisation and the industrial-scale efforts powering Leicester’s growth, its rural tributaries have been shaped by agriculture. Melton Mowbray, the pork pie capital of the world, stands testimony to the importance of agriculture in this rural part of the Midlands.
In the Soar catchment, rivers sustain agriculture, but they also feel its pressure. Melton Mowbray’s River Eye, Asfordby’s Wreake and East Leake’s Kingston Brook flow through rolling hills with a rich agricultural legacy. Agriculture sustains local livelihoods and it’s the brooks that help sustain streams of income.

Brooks and streams entering tributaries are used for drainage and irrigation – not without taking a toll on water quality, flood risk and habitat. While pockets of habitat have been retained and parts of the catchment have been awarded SSSI status for exhibiting exemplary features of a typical lowland river, rivers in the Soar catchment are overwhelmed by the weight they have been asked to carry.

Urban and agricultural pressures have been overwhelming the Soar and its tributaries. Changes to the river have reduced its resilience to pollution and its capacity to cope with drought and flood.

In the Soar catchment, Trent Rivers Trust is here to help. Urban or rural, farmer or city council, pollinator project, or Natural Flood Management, the Trent Rivers Trust is invested in improving the rivers and streams that see communities thrive.

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