Skip to content

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


Improving the Scarrow Beck, live audio streams and a Riffle

Health benefits

In February, the Greening Aldborough group helped to clear bankside vegetation ahead of work on the Scarrow Beck to improve the river channel and benefit invertebrate and fish communities. The stretch of river runs behind the doctors surgery in Aldborough and provides a great opportunity to create space for the community to spend time near water for their enjoyment and wellbeing. 

A more natural profile

During April we've been working on the Scarrow Beck at Aldborough to provide rivers and catchments that are healthy, clean and rich in wildlife. With help from The Water Management Alliance, the once incised river channel has now been opened out creating a more natural profile to the bank. The addition of wood into the river channel will help scour and clean the gravel bed, improving habitat for invertebrate and fish communities, including the brook lamprey seen along the reach.

Livestreams at Blickling and Felbrigg

As part of our work to bring the diverse acoustic habitats of the River Bure catchment to new audiences, live audio streams have been set up in woodland, close to the Scarrow beck on the Felbrigg Estate Norfolk, and on the Blickling Estate. You can listen live for free at any time of the day or night at and 

Riverlands Riffle Installation

Working with Sound Artist Mike Challis we’ve created Bure Riffle, an interactive, immersive sound and light installation in The Strong Room at Felbrigg Hall. Mike collected sounds from the Upper Bure River and its tributaries to celebrate the diversity of nature in the area, including birdsong, barking roe deer and rippling water. The room has a beautiful double curved ceiling and Mike was inspired to use this as a projection surface. Working with the assistance of Pam Harling-Challis he has built a structure that recreates the river in the room using running water. The bed of the ‘river’ is a mirror and, by shining lights on the water, reflections are projected on to the ceiling filling the room with moving light patterns. Using gravel on the mirrored riverbed the flows of the river can be altered by visitors, creating a ‘riffle’. In a flowing stream carrying gravel or coarser sediments, a sequence of features including pools and riffles can form. Riffles are shallow accumulations of gravel organised into ribs with fast-flowing water. Pools are deeper, calmer areas where the riverbed is often made up of finer material such as silt. 

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.

Our partners

Fundraising Regulator

The independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Visit website 

You might also be interested in

Aerial view of Blickling Estate in Norfolk showing the house, grounds and lake

Explore the wider Blickling Estate 

There's much more to Blickling Estate than its famous house. Covering 4,600 acres with 950 acres of woodland and parkland and 3,500 acres of farmland, Blickling Estate is great for exploring alone, with family or your four-legged friends.

View of the lake and parkland with Felbrigg Hall in the distance

Exploring the estate at Felbrigg 

The estate at Felbrigg includes 520 acres of woods, with rolling parkland, a lake and buggy-friendly paths. There's plenty of space to let off steam or follow a trail to discover the delights of the grounds.

River Derwent, Borrowdale, north East of Castle Crag, Cumbria

Riverlands: how we keep our rivers flowing 

Find out more about the National Trust's ambitious Riverlands project that aims to bring the UK's rivers, streams, brooks and becks back to life.