A community relay event designed to celebrate the epic journey of the Atlantic Salmon taking place along the banks of the River Exe in September 2022.

The Salmon Run was a 50-mile relay that travelled upriver from Exmouth, passing through the city of Exeter, and culminating at Tarr Steps on Exmoor – echoing the migration undertaken by the fish to their spawning grounds.

The event, which was open to the public, aimed to raise awareness of the plight of the species, whose numbers have crashed catastrophically over the past 50 years.

Salmon Run was created by Tidelines as a pilot project of the Creative Arc programme – a collaboration between the University of Exeter, Exeter City Council and The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery – to explore how the museum and its collections can help shape a better Exeter, and Creative Peninsula.

Salmon Run took place on Sunday 25 September, with runners setting off from Exmouth and passing a symbolic hand-crafted salmon icon from hand-to-hand with each leg of the relay.

Once the run reached Exeter’s Riverside Valley Park, members of the public had the opportunity to swell the numbers by taking part in one of two shorter legs of either 3km or 1.5km.

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“We are so excited about the Salmon Run project. There will be people on hand to share their knowledge, passion and concern for the salmon, which are a keystone species, and an accompanying ‘Salmon Run’ podcast and imagery and performance."

“These fish occupy a critical and important place in our river’s ecosystem, culture and history, and can tell us much about the health of the environment. We’re inviting people to be part of this as a runner, a steward or to cheer on the running salmon!”

- Jo Salter, Tidelines

‘Salmon guides’ were on hand to share information and stories about the iconic fish, and there were information points along the route, including Salmon Pool and Blackaller Weirs, staffed by representatives of the partner organisations. There were also pop-up performances at the start and finish.

As a keystone species, Atlantic Salmon act as an indicator of the health of the environment, but factors such as changing water temperature, water quality and barriers to movement such as weirs, have all impacted their numbers in the Exe – whose name itself originally meant ‘river of fish’. There is now a ten-year ban on netting salmon in the Exe.

Tidelines has worked with RAMM curators Tom Cadbury and Holly Morgenroth to learn more about Atlantic Salmon and its cultural significance in Exeter, as well as with researchers at the University and other experts, including anglers. And it has collaborated with Wild Running, specialists in adventurous outdoor events, to deliver the run itself.