Derwent Riverlands - behind the scenes

A timelapse shot showing a calm river flowing through woodlands in autumn colours

The river Derwent is a mountain river. It runs from Sprinkling Tarn in the high Lake District fells out to the sea at Workington. On the way it passes through Cumbrian towns and villages, farmland and woodland, peat bogs and dockyards. All of these make up the Derwent 'catchment' - the lands that the river flows through; The Derwent's 'riverlands'

It's home to otters, atlantic salmon and the UK's rarest freshwater fish, the vendace. But it's under pressure from climate change, pollution and man-made alterations to its course.

So, as part of a national programme to improve the health of rivers across England and Wales, we've launched the Derwent Riverlands project.

On this project timeline, we'll be posting regular updates of the work we're doing behind the scenes, so keep checking back in to stay up to date.

Latest updates

11 Aug 22

Creating ponds in drought conditions at Stonethwaite

The first week of construction on the Stonethwaite naturalisation project is coming to an end, and it’s already clear to see what a difference the project will make. This image shows one of the ponds being dug on the floodplain, which are designed to create seasonally wet habitats and connect with high flows when the river is in flood. Although we did expect them to hold some water in the summer, we were surprised – and delighted! – to see just how rapidly the ponds have filled up in the current dry conditions. At a time when the government is officially declaring a national drought, and widespread measures to save water are expected across much of the country, this goes to show how much of an impact we can have using natural water management and river restoration techniques.

Ponds being dug on the floodplain at Stonethwaite

09 Aug 22

Ponds galore at Dunthwaite

The natural flood management project at Dunthwaite has been progressing apace, with most of the ponds now dug and all the ditches blocked. The scale of the ponds is rather magnificent, and it’s wonderful to see them already starting to hold water in what was previously an extremely dry landscape – despite being the height of summer and in the middle of a heatwave to boot! We’re in discussion with our tenant and the designer about potentially creating a few more ponds across the fellside to maximise the benefits of the project, before we add the finishing touches to the landscaping and reseed the bare earth around the ponds.

Newly constructed ponds at Dunthwaite are filling with water

01 Aug 22

Learning through play at Forest and River Schools with WCRT

With the end of the school year also comes the end of our most recent programme of Forest and River Schools. Working in partnership with West Cumbria River’s Trust, we’ve taken hundreds of children from primary schools along the West Coast into the national park join our Forest and River schools. The children have joined in with all sorts of activities, from river dipping to insect identification, learning through play and exploring the natural world around them. We hope that providing these experiences that connect children with nature will set them up as our next generation of conservationists – and we’re thrilled to be planning the next round of Forest and River schools to start up again in September.

Children taking part in river dipping