The source of the River Ellen, as with other Lakeland rivers, is from the high Lakeland Fells. In the case of the Ellen, this is the Skiddaw massif. These base-poor rocks mean the upper reaches are nutrient-poor and characterised by stony beds and riffles and pools. The main form of agriculture is sheep and beef cattle. However, once the Ellen drains into the North Cumbrian plain, similarities with other Lakeland rivers end. The middle and lower Ellen meander through fertile fields that not only support beef and dairy cattle, but also grow a variety of cereals. 

The river supports a good population of salmon, sea trout, eels, lamprey, minows and stickleback.

Issues and goals

The rich rolling farm land and intensive agriculture have an impact on the river in that there is more sediment and nutrient input.

The key goal for the river and its tributaries are to ensure that water quality and habitats are maintained or improved to support the existing diverse flora and fauna and help to improve stocks of key species and communities.

Catchment information

Find out more about the Ellen catchment on our Catchment mapping portal.