Repairing the dams in Fishpool Valley

Two members of staff at Croft Castle look out over the dam works in Fishpool Valley

We've begun vital repair work to the dams and spillways in Fishpool Valley as part of our ambitious landscape restoration project. Read on to discover more about our work and what you can expect to see on your next visit.

Contractors are currently repairing the first dam at the bottom of the valley, which will take approximately three months to complete. Once this dam has been restored, a cascade which was uncovered by archaeologists last summer will be re-built and will once again become a working Picturesque design-feature within the valley.

Water will once again flow through the valley once the dams have been restored
Water flowing through Fishpool Valley after heavy rainfall
Water will once again flow through the valley once the dams have been restored

Jason Wood, our ranger, is delighted that this much-needed work has started: ‘Thanks to our supporters, we’re not only able to protect these historic structures, we’re also conserving a habitat for endangered species and safeguarding the dams against future breaches.’ This work simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of our supporters; everyone who’s joined, visited, donated and volunteered has enabled this project to take place.    

Dam repairs are well underway in Fishpool Valley
Dam 1 in Fishpool Valley midway through repair works
Dam repairs are well underway in Fishpool Valley

Fishpool Valley may well feel busier than normal during this time and the footpath which normally leads straight to the first dam will be closed off until early October. The path a little further along will remain open, which leads down to the second dam.

A closer look at the repair works to the first dam and spillway
A closer look at the repair works underway on Dam 1 in Fishpool Valley
A closer look at the repair works to the first dam and spillway

Floods of recent years have caused quite catastrophic failure to two of the dams, one pool has emptied completely and others are affected by various natural impacts. While some of the dams are now funded, each of these medieval earthworks cost between £30,000 and £200,000 to repair and we continue to seek donations to support this vital conservation work.

A view through the trees to one of the pools in Fishpool Valley
A view through the trees to one of the pools in Fishpool Valley, Croft Castle
A view through the trees to one of the pools in Fishpool Valley

Much of the landscape design of Fishpool Valley was undertaken at the end of the eighteenth century when the Picturesque movement was beginning to influence the aristocracy of Herefordshire. The designers originally intended for visitors to have an immersive, sensory experience through the clever manipulation of water. Sluices, spillways and stop-logs held back and released water, creating waterfalls and cascades between the streams and pools, with both practical use and aesthetically pleasing design. The failure of these controls and leaking pools mean that the beautiful effects have been lost. However, you will soon be able to immerse yourself in the valley as it was previously experienced once repair work has been completed.