The Longsleddle valley sits above Kendal. The River Sprint, a tributary of the River Kent SSSI/SAC runs through the valley and enters the Kent at Burneside.
The river channel has undergone extensive modifications over the years including re-alignment, dredging, re-sectioning and bank revetment works.
SCRT started discussions with landowners in the valley to deliver river restoration works. Various studies have been conducted which have identified opportunities for river restoration and sustainable management of the Sprint. These included opportunities for increasing habitat diversity, restoring natural processes, enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality and slowing the flow of water.
SCRT has so far worked with one landowner to find and agree the best options available under the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme, ‘Making Space for Water’, which now sees landowners compensated for losses of agricultural land for ecological improvements. You can find out more about this new scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/countryside-stewardship-grants/making-space-for-water-sw12
The land in question was identified for floodplain restoration. Four hectares of ‘making space for water’ floodplain were restored, with four seepage ponds created and restoration of tributary gravel fan deposits. This connectivity of the floodplain occurs during large flood events but by removing embankments, more frequent connectivity can happen during smaller flood events too. The floodplain will also develop hydraulic roughness over time as plant species develop through this connectivity process. Hydraulic roughness is the amount of resistance water has when passing over land. Techniques used for the project store water, create ephemerally wetland habitats that boost biodiversity and restore natural processes and connectivity.
Overall, 1km of paleochannel was restored in the summer of 2021 that will experience further ecological improvements over time.
Digging a seepage pond on site in Longsleddle
Example seepage pond at Blaze Beck in West Cumbria