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Restoring the River Bure in Norfolk

A grassy field with a small river running through it and an arched wooden bridge in the distance, at Blickling Estate, Norfolk
The ''Chinese' bridge over the River Bure at Blickling Estate, Norfolk | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

Currently only 14% of England’s river catchments are in good health. We've set out to reverse this trend with the Riverlands project. Working with the Environment Agency we’re working to improve the health of the River Bure. The work will establish a diverse habitat for nature to thrive including water voles and eels. Improving access to the river will also create a natural space for everyone to visit and enjoy.

Why the River Bure is so special

Only 200 chalk-stream rivers world wide

There are just over 200 chalk-stream rivers around the world and the River Bure is one of them. The river source starts in Melton Constable and passes through both Blickling and Felbrigg estates. The river flows into the internationally important Norfolk Broads which is Britain’s largest designated wetland and a haven for wildlife.

Improving water quality

Working with our partners, local landowners and tenants we’ll be looking to improve water quality and habitats along the river. This will help ease passage for fish and protect endangered species such as the water vole and eel. The hope is that work may even lead to the introduction of the native white claw crayfish in the future and plants like the nationally rare opposite stonewort will return.

A river that's loved and valued by all

Water is an essential part of our daily lives and it’s good for our health and wellbeing too. We’re looking to improve access to the River Bure so that more people can enjoy the natural beauty.

Grey Heron fishing in a stream near a bridge
Grey heron catching fish at the River Bure, Norfolk | © National Trust Images / Jim Bebbington

Latest Riverlands project updates for the River Bure


Reducing flooding and slowing the flow

Reducing flooding at Edgefield

Working with Norfolk Rivers Trust our Farmer Engagement team delivered a project near Edgefield to reduce flooding and stop run-off into the river. A design was drawn up to install ‘leaky dams’ and silt traps along the stream just before it reached the village.

In January 2024, over the course of a week we: created a track cross drain to capture silt laden water and re-direct it into a field corner silt trap, installed two leaky log dams in the stream, and created a second field corner silt trap to take water from the stream at times of high flow, to increase the water holding capacity of the area and re-connect the stream and flood plain in a controlled manner.

We also replaced the damaged bridge and culvert to provide a safe crossing point for walkers using the public right of way and the farmer.

Slowing the flow at Itteringham

Spring 2024 saw a three-phase project completed at Dairy Farm, Itteringham. The project focused on slowing and capturing run-off flows before they entered a pond (also to be restored) and subsequently the River Bure.

The first part of the project saw a series of swales dug into the track verge with accompanying ‘humps and gullies’ across the track to divert water into our new swales. This will direct all water currently running down the track, carrying all soil and sand with it, into these soak aways that can then be easily managed.

Cleaning the water

The second part of the project saw a formal silt trap constructed in a ditch running out from the farmyard. A silt trap was made by widening the ditch, creating a dam, and installing an outfall pipe. This will collect water and hold it long enough for all fine material (sands and soils) to drop out and clean water to enter the rest of the ditch. A series of log-dams were then installed as further ‘cleaning’ opportunities before the water reached an old pond.

Creating habitat for wildlife

The pond forms the third part of our plan. The old pond had become heavily silted and derelict with large amounts of submerged, dead wood. The deadwood was removed and some of the overhanging vegetation cut back and the pond de-silted back to its hard base. The banks were then re-shelved to allow good marginal habitat for invertebrates, amphibians and plants.

Water vole by a river bank


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate to help us revive your rivers and catchments, so they can flow with life again.

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