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Press release

Partnership project to restore rivers in the Lake District wins 2024 UK River Prize

A view  of the completed Goldrill Beck River Restoration project, Ullswater
A view of the completed Goldrill Beck River Restoration project, Ullswater | © Land & Sky

The Ullswater Catchment Management partnership, which is spearheaded by the National Trust and Ullswater Catchment Management Community Interest Company (UCMCIC) and works to restore and improve rivers in the Ullswater catchment in the Lake District, has won the prestigious 2024 UK River Prize’s Catchment Award.

The partnership, shortlisted against three other finalists for the prize, has delivered over 280 restoration initiatives across the catchment since its inception in 2015, including the successful ‘re-wiggling’ of Goldrill Beck.

In total, it has to date restored 843 hectares (2083 acres) of key habitats, the equivalent of roughly 1,180 football pitches. This includes over 13km of river restoration, 46 hectares of pond creation, 16km of hedgerow creation, as well as significant restorations of wood pasture, peat, and wetlands.

Danny Teasdale, founder of the UCMCIC said: "We are absolutely delighted to have won the UK river prize. This win really shows what is possible with genuine partnership working, especially with and for our local farming communities."

Rebecca Powell, Project Manager for the National Trust’s Cumbria Riverlands Project added: “The projects were only possible due to strong collaboration and the collective effort of many partners, the local community and farmers.

“We’re thrilled that everyone’s hard work is delivering real improvements in the health and resilience of our rivers, streams and wider habitats in the Ullswater catchment and is receiving the national recognition it deserves.”

In addition to the practical restoration work, the partnership has also hosted a range of engagement opportunities designed to connect people with nature and their rivers, training and educational initiatives including community events, volunteer days, and workshops and demonstration events for the local community and farmers.

The project is supported by the Cumbria River Restoration Strategy, which is led by the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Oliver Southgate, Cumbria and Lancashire River Restoration Programme and Project Manager at the Environment Agency added: “The work delivered in the Ullswater valley has been a game changer. It demonstrates that it is possible to work at scale and connect interventions across multiple land parcels and farming communities, making a real difference for both people and the environment. It’s been an absolute joy to be a key partner in all this fantastic work.”

Partnership work in Cumbria is due to continue over the coming years, with further work planned to restore natural habitats. 6,000 opportunities to restore water dependent habitat such as rivers, wetlands, and peat bogs have been identified on National Trust land through a recent survey.

This will ensure a more climate resilient and sustainable landscape, achieving improvements for the environment, biodiversity, and local residents.

Other finalists for this year’s UK River Prize were 'Rewilding the Rom' in Greater London, the Upper Witham Restoration in Lincolnshire and The Riverlands Porlock Vale Streams Project in Somerset, another innovative project led by the National Trust in which the catchments of the River Aller and Horner Water have had their natural processes restored in a ‘ctrl alt del’ reset of the landscape, restoring their original floodplains, slowing the flow of water and reintroducing beavers into an adjacent area of the Estate.

Both the Ullswater and Porlock Vale projects are part of the National Trust Riverlands Programme, a multi-million pound programme of work to restore the nations rivers, in partnership the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

Abby Mullen, the National Trust’s Riverlands Programme Manager said: “We would like to thank all partners, funders, stakeholders, local communities, farmers and landowners involved in making these projects happen – everyone involved should feel very proud.”