We’re leading a three-year catchment restoration project, comprising river restoration, habitat improvement work and the installation of natural flood management features throughout the River Glenderamackin catchment area from Mungrisdale to Keswick.

We’re working with farmers and landowners across the catchment to develop landscape features inspired by nature that aim to help reduce flood risk to Keswick, and provide other environmental benefits.

The issue: Flooding in Keswick

Keswick has a long history of flooding, with devastating floods occurring in 2005, 2009 and most recently in 2015, when 515 properties were directly flooded and many more affected by surface water flooding. Historic land use changes, agricultural drainage and compacted ground, together with an increase in extreme rainfall events, have contributed to a high flood risk for Keswick.

Why the Glenderamackin matters

The Glenderamackin River is a tributary of the River Greta, joining the Greta before it flows through Keswick. It’s an upland river flowing in a 16km arc westward from its source behind Blencathra in the Northern Lake District fells. Its tributaries include Troutbeck, Naddle Beck and the Glenderaterra. The whole catchment covers an area of 100 km 2.

 

What we’re doing

We’re working with farmers and landowners across the Glenderamackin catchment on a Natural Flood Management (NFM) project.  NFM comprises a range of techniques designed to keep water in the landscape and out of rivers for longer during heavy rainfall, with the goal being to reduce flood risk downstream by ‘slowing the flow’.

We’re putting a range of measures in place, including:

  • tree planting
  • creating and restoring kested hedgerows
  • improving soil
  • installing leaky barriers
  • increasing water storage on the floodplain

These measures complement hard engineering and flood resilience measures carried out by other agencies and organisations. The combined impact of lots of small measures across the catchment could have a significant effect on flood risk. We’re keen that these measures don’t adversely affect the farm business and that they improve water quality and habitat.

Project progress 

The project launched in mid-2019 and we’ve been working with over 30 farmers and landowners across the catchment to plan a wide range of landscape features.

Work has now taken place at numerous sites. By April 2021 we had installed:

  • 104 leaky dams
  • new ponds to permanently hold over 8 million litres of water
  • embankments around ponds to temporarily hold back a further 12.6 million litres after storms
  • improvements to existing ponds and scrapes so they hold more water
  • 5 km of fencing along becks and associated tree planting in places
  • 7.5 km of hedgerow planting and restoration
  • several hectares of tree planting
  • 20 in-field trees

 
Leaky dams (L) and a fenced-off new hedgerow (R)

In addition to our NFM work, we’re also working on broader catchment restoration to provide multiple environmental benefits. For example, we’ve upgraded a culvert to ensure fish can access Whit Beck. 

Work is continuing in 2021, with plans including extensive tree and hedgerow planting, further fencing off of riverbanks, new ponds on a similar scale to those built this year, and additional leaky dams. We’ll also be working with farmers and landowners on soil management best practice.

Case study: Water storage in the Naddle 

One major project in the Naddle area has seen a large pond and embankment created to temporarily store water after storms. The pond holds 3 million litres of water and the embankment can hold back a further 3.5-4 million litres before gradually draining between storm events. This project was made possible by a landowner offering 3.7 hectares of unproductive agricultural land which sits just above the Naddle floodplain.

As well as contributing to natural flood management efforts, the pond has significantly increased biodiversity in the area. It features a large island for nesting birds and clean gravels to provide nesting habitat for lapwing and oystercatchers. The area has been seeded with wildflowers which have attracted bees and other pollinating insects. Red deer stag, roe deer, fox, brown hare, toads, dragon flies and damsel flies have also all been spotted.

This water storage area is a really exciting example of a project aiming to help both communities downstream and wildlife. In the right place, storing a large volume of water after storms will contribute to efforts to reduce peak levels downstream which cause flooding. Meanwhile, the site is looking fantastic and is attracting a wide range of species.

 

The new pond (L) and associated tree-planting (R)

Evaluating success

We want to know how effective these measures will be as a key aim of the DEFRA funding is to increase the national evidence base and better understand the role of NFM in flood risk management. We’ll be monitoring all our interventions, working with Lancaster University.

Funders and partners

The project is funded by: 

  • DEFRA and the Water Environment Grant scheme through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
  • The government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Work in this catchment was prioritised by  West Cumbria Catchment Partnership to address multiple issues. We’re working with many of our catchment partners including Cumbria County Council, United Utilities, Forestry England, Friends of the Lake District, the Woodland Trust, the Farmer Network, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Cumbria Woodlands, Keswick Anglers and Keswick Flood Action Group. 

Want to find out more?

We’re continuing to identify and develop NFM interventions across the catchment which have multiple benefits. If you’re a landowner in the catchment and are interested in NFM measures on your land or are just keen to find out more, please contact Clair Payne on 017687 75429 or  clair@westcumbriariverstrust.org