Clearing up after December floods in the Lake District

Over the weekend of Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December, Storm Desmond swept across the North of England, affecting many of our places in the Lake District. The met office confirmed a record rainfall in Cumbria with 341.4mm of rain in just 24 hours. Since then, we’ve been out and about assessing the impact of the floods and supporting the local community with a major clean-up operation.

Hartsop clear-up

We have had fantastic support from volunteers since the floods, with clear-up days taking place all over the Lake District. On 2 February we held a work party in Hartsop, where dozens of volunteers and National Trust staff got stuck in to clearing debris out of the fields and fences.

Staff and volunteers clearing up the debris in Hartsop
Staff and volunteer clear up day in Hartsop

Audrey Riordan was one of the members of staff that helped out, she said:  “We had a great day out volunteering at Hartsop  clearing stone off the fields & experiencing what it’s like to be a ranger in the Ullswater valley. Loads of fun, a great workout & a good cause too.”

Job well done
Staff and volunteer clear up day at Hartsop

Fell Foot

We’ve been busy at Fell Foot working hard to get our buildings back in tip top condition. Our amazing team of volunteers joined us too. We’ve cleaned and scrubbed and tidied the tea room and shop, gathered all the wood from the lake shore and raked thousands of leaves from the pathways. The park has emerged shaken but resilient and we are open every day for beautiful walks and stunning views. The effect of the flooding on our boathouses will take a little longer to resolve as they are still drying out and won’t be open until the end of March.

The water has now receded at Fell Foot
Fell Foot shop now that water has receded

Urgent repair work in the countryside

Our Ranger teams across the Lakes have undertaken lots more urgent repair work to footpaths, bridges, fences, drystone walls and other countryside furniture. The good news about this is, wherever possible, we’ve kept popular footpaths open so that people can walk the usual popular and iconic routes.

Rangers in Borrowdale worked flat out in torrential rain to build a footbridge in 6 days, so that it was in place before visitors arrived for the Christmas holidays. The footbridge is a temporary alternative to the damaged 800yr old packhorse bridge at Watendlath.

Installing a temporary footbridge in Watendlath
Installing a temporary footbridge in Watendlath
Making progress...
Installing a temporary footbridge in Watendlath
The finished product!
Installing a temporary footbridge in Watendlath



Published 14 January:

Wordsworth House and Garden 

In Cockermouth, the rivers Cocker and Derwent burst their banks and flooded the town centre, including Wordsworth House and Garden. The water reached five-feet deep and has left a sea of mud and silt behind. Our beautiful heritage garden, where William learned his love of nature, has been affected. 
The kitchen garden at Wordsworth House is filled with heritage varieties
The heritage garden at Wordsworth House
" Sadly, the damage to William’s childhood garden looks to be worse than in 2009, even though the water level was lower. Although, this time, it didn’t bring down any walls or the terrace where William and his sister Dorothy loved to play, we’re expecting to lose more of our heritage plants."
- Amanda Thackeray, Head Gardener
Wordsworth House garden after the December 2015 flood
Wordsworth House garden after the December 2015 flood

Fell Foot, Windermere 

At Fell Foot on the southern tip of Lake Windermere, our shop and cafe were completley submerged.

Level of the water at Fell Foot shop
Flooding at Fell Foot Dec 2015
The water has receded but we've been left with a lot of debris to clear, and are waiting patiently for our buildings to dry out so we can get inside to clean properly. Big thanks go to our volunteers who have helped us enormously over the past few weeks. 


Keswick and Borrowdale 

Our forestry team have cleared tons of debris left by floodwaters on Keswick sports field. 
Clearing debris from the riverside path at Keswick, Cumbria
Helping with the clean-up

The team used their forestry tractor to get rid of fallen trees, tree stumps and even wreckage from caravans off the sports field. Due to its dexterity, the hydraulic arm had a much greater impact on the speed of clearing up than a larger machine.

Cat Bells path

Roy and Daisy the labrador and a team of rangers repair one of our most iconic paths. Take a look at the video. 


Our rangers have also been out and about in the community - here they're helping some of our locals who were cut off by the water levels surrounding their home. Take a look at the video. 

All our places are back open again and you can support us by paying one of them a visit. See what's open in the Lakes. Thank you for all the ongoing messages of support. We're working hard to return these special places to normal again. Email Vicky to help volunteer.