Before the site was a nature reserve, there were artificial drainage ditches that were historically created to redirect water off the fellside at Eycott Hill to make drier, arable land to rear livestock. These man-made channels drained water downstream from upland grounds into Naddles Beck, with speed that progressively eroded the soil and increased the likelihood of flooding.
The Naddles Beck Project
In order to create a wetter environment to boost wildlife populations, Cumbria Wildlife Trust built dams to block twenty artificial ditches earlier this year; which were then strengthened by re-establishing the vegetation.
More recently, further work has been carried out to develop meanders along Naddles Beck to slow the flow of the water, through the placement of boulders. On top of this, shallow depressions - known as scrapes - have been dug from the ground to enhance the environment and improve the biodiversity of the area. Scrapes retain quantities of water through the seasons, supporting a range of amphibians, invertebrates, and food sources for wading birds such as curlew. To provide additional diversity of habitats, the embankments of Naddles Beck will also be planted with native wet woodland tree species and wetland plant species.
Flood alleviation is another benefit of this work. Every year, sections of Naddles Beck back up with floodwater, which results in the flooding of adjacent fields owned by Newton Rigg. This project is set to reduce that, and instead, divert floodwater onto the land at Eycott Hill for better, wetter habitats.
This extensive work, along with a number of other projects, is in place to altogether enhance biodiversity, slow the flow of water, improve water quality, and reduce soil erosion at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve. These projects were made possible thanks to grants from WREN via funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund, and The Heritage Lottery Fund.
Whilst there may still be plenty more work to be carried out on the site, species can already be seen thriving at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve; such as the peacock butterfly (Aglais io), four-spot orb-weaver (Araneus qudratus) and fox moths (Macrothylacia rubi). There are even signs of otters and badgers using the area around Naddles Beck.
Other wetland areas of the nature reserve are already designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, for botanical significance that includes some nationally scarce sedge and Sphagnum moss species. Hopefully, with time, the Naddles Beck area will be equally impressive with a healthy wetland environment to encourage flora and fauna to flourish; inviting various sedges, dragonflies, birds, and amphibians to inhabit the land.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust hosts numerous events, many of which give volunteers the opportunity to learn about the environment and make a difference to conservation so why not get involved?
University of Cumbria & Thrown Overboard Media
Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is possible thanks to National Lottery Players, and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.