RRC Member site visit to Rottal Burn, Scotland

Earlier this week, I visited the Rottal Burn on the River South Esk, Angus, Scotland, with 11 RRC members. This project won the reach-scale award for the 2023 UK River Prize. Kelly-Ann Dempsey from the River South Esk Catchment Partnership and Craig MacIntyre from the Esk Rivers & Fisheries Trust walked the group along approx. a 1km stretch of the burn.

The stayed shining for us, as Kelly Ann and Craig told the group about the works which had taken place here. In 2012 an approx. 600m stream was remeandered through the site, creating a longer, more sinuous channel pathway. It was a great opportunity to be able to return to the site 10+ years since restoration to see how the river has responded to the meandering.

Craig pointed out the existing tree line, indicating the path the channel used to follow. Some sections of the channel appear more dynamic, with flows finding their own way, creating small lengths of braiding in some places. Some areas have remained similar since restoration.

Recent flooding (2 weeks ago!) meant flows and sediment spread out across surrounding fields, and reached a nearby road! The landowner joined us on site, showing us where they had used a digger to build back up the banks to divert flows away from the road. The surrounding fields which had been vegetated with reeds and grasses only 2 weeks before are now blanketed in channel substrate, including rocks, pebbles and a lot of sand. It was interesting to chat with the group about this strange occurrence of sand in a fairly coarse catchment.

As the group walked along the river banks, we looked at channel features which occurred including bars and eroding banks. The group stopped for lunch in a very picturesque spot overlooking the surrounding valley sides and hills.

Thanks to Kelly Ann and Craig for your time showing the group around the site.


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