RRC Members' Site Visit: Cumbria

Tuesday marked the day of the RRC Members’ Site Visit to the winners of the UK River Prize 2016 – the Rivers Derwent, Eden and Kent. The Cumbria River Restoration Strategy (CRRS) was awarded this prize due to the efficient partnership of multiple authorities in these catchments. The day consisted of visits to two locations which demonstrate the work carried out in the CRRS.

After meeting at the Natural England Offices in Oxenholme, 20 participants from multiple authorities nationwide, travelled to the first site in Swindale Valley. Led by RSPB, the Swindale Beck demonstrated multiple interventions across a whole subcatchment. As soon as we left the minibuses, we saw where an intake structure with an integrated fish pass had been built to divert water to an alternative destination. Walking upstream, the group observed the new naturalised channel which had been excavated in line with palaeo channels, and some evidence of the previous channel which had been rock armoured, straightened and perched due to reclamation from wet woodlands and marshland. The new channel meant compromising an SSSI hay meadow in a couple of small areas; however this was justified as it created the opportunity for increased wildlife habitats along the reach. One area of the channel had been widened to encourage sediment deposition, which was evident in the field. Further upstream from the SSSI meadow, work had been carried out including installing turf to stabilise the banks, and a small amount of rock armouring to protect the connection point with the old channel. The group engaged in conversation of costings of the project, why decisions were taken and how long the work took.

A 45 minute drive through winding roads in the Kent catchment which flows into Kendal, led the group to the second site. Following a quick lunch break at a café in Staveley, the group had a short walk to a nearby restoration site where 800m of embankment had been removed along the River Kent to aid floodplain reconnection. It was evident where the feature had previously been located, and the group enjoyed walking along the stretch of the more naturalised reach, discussing how the excavated material was used to improve stability of nearby agricultural areas.

These sites have demonstrated the work which can be successfully carried out with efficient communication and collaboration. CRRS have illustrated a range of restoration techniques, and shown how a variety of methods can be used in conjunction to improve the success of the overall restoration. Attendees enjoyed the day, not letting the cold weather hinder our visit. We were lucky that the rain held off and the day was enjoyable for all, filled with chances to chat to other interested participants, and hear about the work that has taken place in the catchment. Thank you to everyone who came along and especially to representatives from the CRRS partners for taking the time to demonstrate their work.

Read more about the UK River Prize and the winners here.


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