The work involved using a digger to build long dams across man made channels, before replacing the vegetation to strengthen the dam. Side channels were added where possible to divert water from the main ditch so it soaks into the surrounding land, helping to slow the flow of water through the catchment.
Stephen Owen, Eycott Hill Nature Reserve and Training Officer said: “We’ve blocked 4,000 meters of artificial drainage ditches on our upland nature reserve that will help to reduce the volume and speed of water entering Naddles Beck from the fell. This can help to alleviate flooding downstream as water stays on higher ground for longer before making its way into the watercourse. Artificial drainage channels speed this process up so water drains into the beck, and continues downstream, more quickly.”
The work was carried out by Dinsdale Moorland Specialists and a short film showing one of the dams being built can be viewed here and on Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Facebook page.
Naddles Beck runs into the River Glenderamackin, a tributary of the River Greta that joins the Derwent and flows through Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington - all communities that suffered severe flooding from Storm Desmond.
The ditch blocking work is the start of a series of projects designed to slow the flow of water from the upland nature reserve, reduce soil erosion, and improve water quality.
Later in the summer work to re-naturalise a section of Naddles Beck will take place to create a more meandering flow and the banks of the beck will be planted with typical native wet woodland tree species.
As well as the flood alleviation and water quality benefits, the work will also help wildlife as amphibians, wetland plants, and dragonflies will thrive in the wet pools around the blocked ditches, aquatic invertebrates and fish will benefit from cleaner water in the beck, and the woodland planting will add to a diverse habitat for birds, invertebrates, and small mammals.
Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is supported by WREN via funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund, and the Heritage Lottery Fund who awarded £1.6 million towards the purchase price and an ongoing five year programme of conservation and activities to benefit wildlife and people.
Located between Keswick and Penrith, near to the village of Mungrisdale, Eycott Hill is 216 hectares of exceptionally rich wildlife habitat and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the important wetland plants in the swamps and mires and its geology.