We’re working with farmers and landowners across the Glenderamackin River catchment area to develop landscape features inspired by nature that aim to help reduce flood risk to Keswick and provide other environmental benefits for watercourses and the surrounding land. The project is running until September 2021.

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 26 farmers and landowners across the catchment to plan a wide range of landscape features.

Recent work

Despite Covid-19 challenges, during spring/summer 2020 we’ve been working to:

  • create two large ponds with bunds that will permanently store a combined 7 million litres of water and provide temporary storage during storms for a further 8 million litres 
  • create a further smaller pond above Threlkeld which will permanently hold 202,500 litres of water with a bund holding a further 225,000 litres during storm events
  • create temporary floodplain storage for 3.5 million litres of water by constructing a 270-metre bund and restoring a nearby pond with stone leaky dams to temporarily store water in a woodland
  • create floodplain storage for 500,000 litres of water by enhancing existing ponds and scrapes
  • install 120 leaky dams to slow the flow
  • install almost 2.5 km of riparian fencing to prevent riverbank erosion by livestock and create areas of rough vegetation and future tree-planting sites to slow the flow
  • install fencing in preparation for restoring 465 metres of hedgerow and creating 110 metres of cross-floodplain kested hedgerow
  • complete boundary repairs to support 2 hectares of tree planting above Threlkeld
  • upgrade a culvert to ensure fish can access Whit Beck
  • work on a unique gully erosion stabilisation project to reduce sediment loss downstream and prevent further loss of farmland

Meanwhile, we’re also preparing more projects for delivery this autumn and winter, including planting hedges, further cross-slope hedge restoration, rescheduling projects from last winter delayed due to Covid-19, and creation of more woody debris and leaky dams. We’ll also be working with farmers and landowners on soil management best practice.

Surveying one of the two large ponds created in summer 2020

Earlier work

Over winter 2019-20 we:

  • restored 1.1 km of hedgerow 
  • created a further 750 metres of new hedgerow
  • installed 26 leaky dams
  • built 30 in-field tree cages
  • planted almost a hectare of trees and scrub 

Funders and partners

The project is funded by DEFRA and the Water Environment Grant scheme through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

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 the Environment Agency, Cumbria County Council, the Woodland Trust, Farmer Network, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Cumbria Woodlands.  

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.

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