We’ve almost completed 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’ve worked with farmers and landowners across the catchment to develop landscape features inspired by nature that aim to help reduce flood risk to Keswick whilst providing other environmental benefits. 

The issues

The catchment faces multiple threats including a rapid decline in nature, ‘unfavourable-no change’ SAC status, and increases in severe flooding due to climate change. 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. The Glenderamackin River is part of the River Derwent Catchment, part of the Lake District National Park World Heritage Site and River Derwent Special Area of Conservation (SAC). 


What we’ve been doing

We’ve worked with farmers and landowners across the Glenderamackin catchment on a Natural Flood Management (NFM) and catchment restoration 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’ whilst providing other benefits such as improved water quality and habitats.

We’ve put a range of measures in place, including:

  • creating ponds and wetland areas
  • 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 either.

Series of ponds with additional freeboard (temporary water storage during storm events) in Mungrisdale. Created September 2021.

We’re also very lucky to have some fantastic regular volunteers helping us carry out some of our work. Keep an eye on our events page for more details if you’re interested in joining our monthly Glenderamackin Volunteer Group (usually running every third Wednesday of the month). 

Project progress 

The project launched in mid-2019 and we’ve worked with over 40 farmers and landowners across the catchment to plan and deliver a wide range of landscape features.

By May 2022, working with our great local contractors and volunteers, we’ve installed:

  • 414 leaky dams and large woody debris features
  • new ponds to permanently hold over 25,000m³ 
  • bunds around ponds and on floodplains to temporarily hold back 35,000m³ during storm events
  • improvements to existing ponds and scrapes so they hold more water
  • 9.7 km of fencing along becks and associated tree planting
  • 9.9 km of hedgerow planting and restoration
  • 23.5 hectares of tree planting
  • 295 in-field trees
  • enhanced 18.5km of river

A bund on the floodplain of the Glenderamackin river near Threlkeld to temporarily store water during storm events. Created August 2020.

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’ve monitored our interventions, working with Lancaster University – and we’ll continue to do so. 

Please see the Environment Agency’s publication outlining the initial findings of Defra’s national £15m Natural Flood Management programme: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/natural…

Funders and partners

The projects were 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 is 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. 

What’s next?

We’re continuing to identify and develop NFM and nature based solutions across the catchment which have multiple benefits. Look out for more information on our Natural Environment Investment Readiness Funded project ‘Resilient Glenderamackin’ (more info due summer 2022).

If you’re a landowner in the catchment and are interested in NFM measures or improving biodiversity on your land or are just keen to find out more, please contact Clair Payne on 017687 75429 or  clair@westcumbriariverstrust.org