Restoring Ullswater's Rivers

Hartsop in Ullswater

The rivers in Ullswater flow through hill farms, wood pasture, alongside roads and through busy tourist villages, feeding the landscape as they go. Unfortunately the valley’s rivers are in trouble and consequently so are many of the roads, communities and habitats that surround them.

These waterways respond rapidly to rainfall, and pose a flood risk to settlements downstream. The valley has suffered three major storm events in the last ten years and the catastrophic impact of Storm Desmond in 2015 got us thinking that little bit harder about how we can work with nature to make the valley more resilient.

What’s the plan?

We have developed plans for a new Ullswater Rivers Scheme. The scheme will work to slow the flow of these rivers by reconnecting them with the floodplain - allowing the wider landscape to absorb the effects of the weather. Creating rivers and floodplains which are governed by natural processes will result in improved flood resilience, water quality and habitats.

Across the Lake District it is common to see rivers running in straight, walled channels, having been historically modified. The rivers throughout the Ullswater valley are no exception. In the first phase of this scheme our plan is to work with partners including the Environment Agency, Natural England and Cumbria County Council to restore Goldrill Beck to a more natural course where it currently follows the A592 between Cow Bridge and Menneting Bridge. This will move the river away from the road, allowing it to spill onto surrounding land belonging to Howe Green and Beckstones farms during periods of high rainfall.

This approach will:

  • Increase the flood resilience of communities further downstream.
  • Provide an environmentally sustainable means of reducing risk from heavy rainfall to key infrastructure in the valley, including the A592. The road adjacent to Goldrill Beck, one of the few access routes in and out of the valley, was seriously undermined during Storm Desmond. The Ullswater Rivers Scheme would significantly reduce the risks to this important road from future high levels of rainfall.
  • This is an opportunity to restore Ullswater’s declining wildlife population by allowing new opportunities for a diverse range of nature to flourish. Specifically, the scheme will increase the quality and quantity of habitat to support Atlantic salmon, a species that is in decline across the North West.       

Watch this space

Keep checking back below for regular updates from the project team on how the scheme is progressing. We're looking forward to sharing this exciting project with you as each stage unfolds. For more detailed information you can take a look at our FAQs (PDF / 0.1630859375MB) download

We’re also keen to hear your thoughts; you can get in touch with any questions via email on:

Latest updates

06 May 22

Back to school on the River Restoration in Practise course

This week the Riverlands project team attended the inaugural River Restoration in Practise training course, hosted by the Freshwater Biological Association. The course was based in Cumbria, and across three days the team visited five inspirational river restoration projects across the county. The field visits gave us an oversight of the wide variety of techniques that can be used to restore our river systems and catchments; from simple interventions like lowering embankments and reconnecting the river to the floodplain, to constructing entirely new meandering river channels. We even met some wonderful Highland cattle grazing a newly created wetland, and have come away inspired and enthused to make progress with our own plans!

Highland cattle grazing the wetland

15 Mar 22

Plans approved for Hartsop

The Lake District National Park Authority has approved our plans for works on Kirkstone and Caudale Becks at Hartsop. These plans will restore some of the natural processes to the heavily modified rivers, and improve habitat in the Brothers' Water delta. We'll also be replacing a couple of bridges on the farm. Our next task is to appoint a contractor and undertake some preparatory work in anticipation of works starting this summer.

The delta for Brothers' Water, Hartsop

07 Feb 22

Celebrating our Apprentices

This week (7th-13th February) is National Apprenticeship Week, and we’re celebrating the fantastic work of our apprentices! We currently have two apprentice rangers working on the Riverlands projects across the Lake District; Chloe (pictured), a Countryside Worker apprentice, and Thomas, a Water Environment Worker, both funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. You may have also seen the work of our former apprentice Jade who has now graduated and is working as an assistant ranger based in Windermere. You can read interviews with Jade and Chloe, as well as other National Trust apprentices at

Apprentice Ranger on the Lake District Fells