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

13 Jan 20

Getting the lay of the land

This week, technicians from AECOM are onsite at Goldrill to undertake some water and sediment sampling in the drainage ditches, the results of this sampling will ensure that we fully understand the existing ground conditions before the main work starts in May.

07 Oct 19

Contractor appointed

Following a robust procurement process we have now appointed Ebsford Environmental as the contractor for our Goldrill Beck project. Ebsford Environmental are leading aquatic restoration contractors based in Yorkshire, their use of low impact technology and techniques allows them to provide sustainable solutions that minimise waste, lower impacts and respect our natural environment. We are really looking forward to starting work with them next spring.

01 Aug 19

We got the green light

The Lake District National Park Authority has approved our plans for Goldrill Beck and work will start next spring (2020). This whole process has taken a little longer than we anticipated, which is why the work won’t happen this summer. We won’t be sitting idle over winter though; our next steps will be to appoint a contractor and to undertake some preliminary ground exploration work in preparation for work starting next spring.