River Rother

River Rother at Rye (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The River Rother rises near Rotherfield in East Sussex and flows for 35 miles through East Sussex and Kent to its mouth at Rye Bay. Along its course, it is joined by the Rivers Brede and Tillingham at Rye, before it discharges to the sea. For the final 14 miles the river bed is below the high tide level, and the Scots Float sluice is used to control water levels. The sluice prevents salt water entering the river system at high tides, and retains water in the river during the summer months to ensure the health of the surrounding marsh habitat. Below the sluice, the river is tidal for 3.7 miles. It is navigable from Bodiam to Rye Harbour.

Plasticblitz survey at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve


In May and June 2023, we carried out surveys at three sites along the river as part of the Plasticblitz initiative for Thames 21. The results were uploaded electronically, and should be found via the interactive map. However, we also completed a brand audit at the same time, as this provides more data than just counting bags. You can see what we found at each of the three sites by clicking on the buttons below.

In September 2022, we worked with volunteers from the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve on the beach there, for a Marine Conservation Society survey as part of the Great British Beach Clean.

In October 2021, we extended our Great Nurdle Hunt to include the sections of the River Rother that we were surveying. In the grazed riverbank areas we found 194 bio-beads and 56 nurdles in pockets in grass and soil.

Brand Audit Surveys on the River Rother

Strandliners has conducted different types of survey along the River Rother since 2016. In 2019 we started the brand audit with Break Free From Plastic and repeated this in 2020, but in 2021 we had the possibility of creating a much larger event.

Rubbish was collected from accessible stretches of the riverbank over a stretch of approximately 4km over 8 sessions. The bags were collected and taken to an industrial unit, where over a weekend, experienced Strandliners volunteers sorted, identified and recorded over 15,000 items. The ‘big sort’ was documented by a film company, Wallowbird, who were making a short documentary examining plastic pollution in the UK. The Strandliners River Rother clean-up and brand audit were only a very small part of this film, but we were pleased to be involved.