One year on from the Lake District floods

Bassenthwaite lake Cumbrian Flood 5 Dec 2015
Published : 05 Dec 2016 Last update : 08 Dec 2016

One year on from Storm Desmond, our rangers in the Lake District are still fixing the damaged caused by floods that left us with a million pound clean-up bill – including £600,000 worth of uninsured damage.


We look after a fifth of the land within the Lake District National Park, including England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, William Wordsworth’s childhood home and 90 tenanted farms. 

Storm Desmond brought record rainfall to the Lake District in December last year. More than 341.4 mm of rain fell on Honister Pass, Borrowdale, over just 24 hours. 

Impact

The floods caused an estimated £1 million worth of damage.

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth, was left under four feet of water. When floods subsided, a thick crust of river mud had to be scraped off the walled garden by local volunteers. 

Wordsworth House garden after the December 2015 flood
Wordsworth House garden after the December 2015 flood

Landslides on Cat Bells, near Keswick, ripped through popular paths and erosion made summit paths very challenging for less experienced walkers. 

The boathouse and shop at Fell Foot Country Park were left under six feet of water after Lake Windermere burst its banks. 

The flooded cafe at Fell Foot Nov 2015

At Myers Head Mine, Ullswater, floods washed dishwasher-sized stones into the nineteenth century lead mine – destroying the supports that held up a water channel and causing eight metres of ground in front of the mine to crumble into the stream. 

Clean-up

In the aftermath of the floods our foresters helped clear trees and stones from the playing fields at Keswick Football Club. 

Rangers in Borrowdale worked for six days through heavy rain to erect a temporary footbridge at Watlendath in time for the Christmas holidays, after the 800 year old packhorse bridge was damaged by floodwater.

In February, a hundred people joined rangers to clear stones and river gravel from a tenant farmer’s fields at Hartsop Hall, Ullswater. 

Over £347,000 has been donated by our supporters to help fix the damage caused by the storms. This money has helped pay for repairs to footpaths, fences and walls, buildings and bridges in the worst affected areas. 

Clearing debris from the riverside path at Keswick, Cumbria
Helping with the clean-up

Mike Innerdale, National Trust Assistant Director of Operations in the Lake District, said: 'Our ranger teams have worked alongside tenant farmer’s local communities and partner organisations to fix the damage that Storm Desmond left in its wake.

“With major storms occurring more frequently, we need to think about ways of making the Lakes more resilient to flooding.  This will require all of us involved in managing this special place to work together to find solutions to how this landscape may need to be managed and funded differently to make it more resilient to these events, while retaining the special qualities of the Lakes, like the traditions of hill farming and communal grazing.

“We applaud the government’s commitment to using better integrated planning to address climate change and flooding, with the Lake District nominated as one of four ‘pioneer’ project areas. If that approach is to succeed, the farmers and organisations that look after much of the national park need to be involved from the start.'

Growing frequency

Storm Desmond was the third major storm to affect the Lake District in a decade. 

In 2009, 3.1 metres of rain fell on Borrowdale over 24 hours, with Keswick and Cockermouth experiencing heavy flooding. 

Four years before, high winds swept across Cumbria, causing £400,000-worth of damage to our places. 

Resilient landscape