Elterwater is a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), formed from three connected basins (inner, middle and outer basin) and fed by both the Great Langdale Beck and Little Langdale Beck. It is situated just outside the small village of Elterwater in the Langdale Valley in South Cumbria.
Elterwater has unfortunately been badly affected by historical pollution. Here at SCRT we have been working with environmental partners for a number of years now to help improve water quality and biodiversity of the area. You can find out more information about our efforts to restore Elterwater here: Elterwater Remediation project

SCRT worked up a proposal in 2020/2021 to reconnect Great Langdale Beck back into Middle basin of Elterwater. Sometime between 1920 & 1956 the beck was diverted from middle basin into a straightened channel to flow directly into outer basin. Our aim was to reconnect it back to its old channel through a shallow scrape, approximately 3m wide by 0.5m deep, through local woodland. The beck already used this route during high flows, as it naturally wanted to flow there. Our aim was to formalise this route and allow the new channel to naturally evolve over time. Habitat work and invasive species control were also considered to further enhance this area and the lake edge for wildlife – the reason for it’s SSSI status are its lake edge vegetation communities.
Why do this?
Because the river was diverted and straightened, it was showing signs of rapid hydro-geomorphological change. In simple terms, the river’s energy was working to return it to its previous path and causing gravel build up. If left to continue without intervention, it would have; • Caused damage to the footpath • Caused a lack of in-channel variability,fish refuge and biodiversity • Caused clean well-oxygenated water to by-pass the Elterwater system
Middle Basin currently has high nutrient levels. This causes a number of issues, including algal blooms. This ‘new’ channel will allow for more oxygenated water to enter Middle Basin, which will help improve the water quality over time.
In developing these proposals, we have worked collaboratively with landowners National Trust as well as the Environment Agency and Natural England. The project has been designed to enhance environmental benefit without risk of flooding, changes to water levels or risk to public amenities.
In August 2021, Lake District National Park Planning Authority granted SCRT permission for the reconnection of Great Langdale beck to Middle basin. Works began in September with experienced contractors using heavy plant machinery.
Take a look at what happened;
Elterwater re-connection