July: Water levels

A view of Yew Tree Tarn

With a hosepipe ban being enforced soon across the North West, seeing how low our reservoirs and lakes are is a daily reminder of how important it is to look after our waterways.

Tarn Hows is nestled amongst a network of becks, tarns and lakes which are integral to the healthy, beautiful and natural environment in the Lake District.

Early morning at Tarn Hows
early morning view of Tarn Hows looking north west
Early morning at Tarn Hows

Just a short walk through Monk Coniston from Tarn Hows brings you to Coniston Water. There are many becks and tarns in the area, and Coniston is fed by the River Crake. The National Trust collaborates closely with the “Conserving Coniston and Crake” partnership, an organisation working hard to look after this part of the world.  This area has great ecological value and is home to many special species. Numbers of Arctic Charr, Atlantic salmon and brown Trout have dropped in the past couple of years and the partnership has been working hard to reduce this decline.

Water quality is an issue in the area due to phosphates entering the water system, regularly leading to algal blooms. Rare reedbed habitat has also declined across the whole of the Lake District and invasive species such as American skunk cabbage have caused various problems. The project is addressing these issues to prevent them from getting any worse. The local community has been helping out and much of the work is Heritage Lottery funded.

The project is working hard to repair the river habitats and the area just along the edge of the river.  It has created some new areas of gravel so fish can spawn and removed barriers that have stopped fish being able to migrate. On a wider scale it has also reduced pollutants entering the water course and restored some of Coniston’s reedbeds.

Our rangers have also been helping remove the fish (and eels) from Yew Tree tarn near Coniston, which has all but dried up due the lack of rainfall. Working with the local anglers, Environment Agency and South Cumbria Rivers Trust they’ve taken the fish out and put them back in downstream – now we wait until river levels rise and the tarn comes back.  All in a day’s work!

Stream dip with our rangers at Hoathwaite Campsite at our Family Activity Day
Boys enjoying stream dipping
Stream dip with our rangers at Hoathwaite Campsite at our Family Activity Day

If you would like to learn more about the work of The National Trust and the Conserving Coniston and Crake partnership then why not pop down to our Family Activity Day on the edge of Coniston Water.  Get active and arty; skim stones, have a go at stream dipping and discover some marvellous moths.