Malham Tarn Peat Cliff Project

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When Lord Ribblesdale raised the water level of Malham Tarn in 1791 by approximately 1m to increase the area available for fishing, he unwittingly caused serious damage to the area of raised peat bog on the northern shore of the tarn, which we are now trying to address.

The western edge of the tarn forms the edge of the Malham Tarn National Nature Reserve. When Lord Ribblesdale raised the water level of the tarn he flooded out the marginal vegetation around the shore.

This area of reeds and fen vegetation acted as a natural barrier, protecting the peat cliff from the wave action of the water. Without the barrier and with the water at a higher level, there is nothing to protect the exposed peat face from both water and wind erosion. The edge itself is now a peat cliff, in some places as much as 3m high, the face of which is eroding by as much as half a metre per year.

With a Biffaward grant we are attempting to stop this erosion by creating a new barrier. The barrier will work initially by breaking up the wave action hitting this western edge, reducing the force of the water. Behind this barrier we can then re-introduce marginal vegetation that, once established, will again protect the cliff face.