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

02 Sep 21

Green Challenge Recovery Fund

We were recently successful in a bit to the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission. The grant will fund bridge works over Caudale Beck near Hartsop, support tree and hedgerow planting by the Ullswater Community Interest Company as part of natural flood management schemes, and fund two apprentice rangers who will work across the central and North Lakes.

Kirkstone Beck with Green Challenge logos

13 Aug 21

Goldrill Completed

After 3 and a half months of construction, and many more of planning, the restoration works on Goldrill Beck are now complete! Approximately 1.8km of new channel has been dug, including meanders, splits, scrapes and backwaters, contributing to flood management in the valley and providing new habitats for our wildlife. We will be holding an open day later in the autumn for those who would like to visit the site. Whilst the work on Goldrill Beck has drawn to a close the Riverlands programme in Ullswater continues - keep an eye on this page for upcoming projects in the valley.

Goldrill Beck completed

06 Aug 21

Finishing Touches

Ebsford Environmental are wrapping up today, marking the completion of the construction works on the Goldrill Beck restoration. This weeks final touches have included re-seeding bare areas to support recovery of the site, the creation of several scrapes (shallow ponds) which will be great habitat for wetland invertebrates such as dragonflies, and tidying up the permissive footpath along the north side of the site ready for re-opening. The last of the fencing along the roadside will be going up early next week and then we’re all done!

Goldrill Beck new channel