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 Eden Catchment Management Group, 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 / 0.1103515625MB) download

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

Latest updates

17 Mar 21

Location, location, location!

The Goldrill Beck river restoration project is about to get underway and our Riverlands project team have spent a sunny day on site, looking for the best locations for fixed point photography posts. We will be designing the posts and interpretation to encourage people to take photos and send them to us. These photos will be used to create an image-based record of the changes across the site over the coming years. We hope that gathering evidence like this will be a great way for people to feel involved and to find out more about the project.

View of river, green fields and mountains with blue cloudy sky and sunshine

18 Feb 21

Works Underway at Goldrill Beck

You may have noticed a lot of tree felling along the A592 recently. We have been felling trees affected by Ash die back disease to make sure the road is safe. We have also completed felling through the valley bottom fields. This is to get ready for our contractors, who will arrive on site in Spring, to begin works on restoring Goldrill Beck. While we don’t like to fell trees, it was necessary to ensure safe machinery access. We have taken care to leave as many trees as possible across the site and we will plant a new tree for every one felled. Where we do fell a tree, all timber will remain on site, providing vital deadwood habitat within the wet woodland.

A man in a hard hat felling a tree with a chainsaw in a wet woodland

05 Jan 21

All the best laid plans

Well, what a year that was. Unfortunately our plans to begin work at Goldrill Beck last year were thwarted by the national lockdown. By the time we were ready and able to get things on the move again there wasn’t enough time to get the work completed safely during the in-river working window. Our plan now is to move ahead with the work this Spring – better late than never! Watch this space for more updates on our progress over the coming months.