River Ythan Trust

...protecting the River Ythan for all our futures

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Natural history of the River Ythan

The River Ythan is approximately 63 kilometres long, rising at Ythanwells near Huntly and entering the sea at the Ythan estuary, south-east of the town of Ellon and about 14 miles north of Aberdeen.  The river's catchment area extends to 690km2, most of which is rolling, agricultural land.  Crop and grassland account for 95% of the catchment area, which the remaining 5% made up of upland scrub, heathland, woodland and urban areas.

In the past, the river Ythan was famed for its freshwater pearl mussels, with an Ythan pearl reputed to have been used in the Scottish crown jewels.  Sadly, persistent poaching has led to the loss of the pearl mussel from the Ythan, although we hope it may return some day.

The Ythan is also a stronghold for the water vole, a mammal which is declining in much of the rest of the UK.  The inspiration for 'Ratty' in Wind in the Willows, the water vole can still be seen and heard in much of the Ythan catchment.

A number of fish species are found in the river, including brown and sea trout, salmon, stickleback, eel and lamprey.


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