Glenderamackin catchment project


The Glenderamackin catchment covers the watercourses upstream of Keswick that join to form the River Greta. The catchment is steep and mountainous and part of the Lake District National Park, covering 100 km².

Due to its position in the landscape, Keswick town has a long history of flooding. Land use changes, agricultural drainage and an increase in extreme rainfall events contribute to an increasing flood risk in Keswick and devastating floods have occurred in 2005, 2009 and most recently in 2015, when over 515 properties were flooded.  In 2012, a £6 million flood defence scheme was completed, led by the Environment Agency. Because of the existing flood wall, appraisals in 2018 concluded that it is not currently viable to construct further flood defences through the town.

Managing the landscape to allow it to store and slow flood water could help to reduce flood risk to Keswick. Measures such as peat restoration, tree planting and water storage areas could also provide habitat for a wider range of species, improve water quality and help to manage the large volumes of gravel that get washed downstream during floods. The landscape is dominated by farming and any changes should also improve the sustainability of the farm business.

The working group:

No single organisation can work over such a large catchment on many different habitat types and objectives. A working group has been established to share resources and expertise to work towards the best all round outcome for the Glenderamackin catchment. Currently the following organisations are represented on the working group:

  • West Cumbria Rivers Trust (Chair)
  • The Rivers Trust
  • Nature Finance
  • Environment Agency
  • National Trust
  • Woodland Trust
  • Farmer Network
  • Natural England
  • Forestry Commission
  • Lake District National Park Authority
  • Cumbria Wildlife Trust
  • Cumbria Woodlands
  • Keswick Flood Action Group and local community representation

What’s happened so far?

The Farmer Network and West Cumbria Rivers Trust host a facilitated farmer group which brings together local farmers and landowners to share ideas about sustainable catchment management including natural flood management measures.

Between 2018 and 2022, West Cumbria Rivers Trust delivered a suite of Natural Flood Management and habitat improvement measures across the catchment, funded through the DEFRA natural flood management program, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Water Environment Grant and Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Ongoing monitoring is assessing the effectiveness of these features.

More details on the NFM projects that have been delivered.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Eycott Hill nature reserve has already implemented measures to ‘slow the flow’ and increase habitat diversity. Cumbria Wildlife Trust have also undertaken restoration of degraded peat on Matterdale Common and have aspirations to restore peat in other areas within the catchment. Likewise, the Woodland Trust have completed some large scale planting schemes but there is scope for a lot more woodland creation.

In order to see real change in reduced flood risk and nature recovery, the scale of delivery needs to be substantially increased. West Cumbria Rivers Trust are working with The Rivers Trust and Nature Finance to explore how private investment can be used to fund nature based solutions. This work is funded by DEFRA’s Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund and is exploring how upfront investment in natural capital can be paid back over long timescales, whilst giving landowners payments for hosting and maintaining the interventions that provide societal benefits such as flood mitigation, carbon sequestration or improved water quality.

Farmers and landowners are key to the development of this project and have generously given their time to help shape how this new funding approach could work.

Currently, the Farming in Protected Landscapes Program is funding carbon audits for farms across the catchment. This will show how much carbon is being drawndown and emitted by a farm business and how this can be improved.

Find out more about the Resilient Glenderamackin project here.


The working group will meet regularly to update on the progress of all of these projects and ensure that there is a joined up approach.

What’s next?

To make a meaningful difference to the flood risk in Keswick, the decline in wildlife and the downstream nutrient issues, the scale of work delivered needs to be significantly scaled up and landowners need to be adequately incentivised to host interventions on their land.

West Cumbria Rivers Trust and Triodos Bank are currently working on securing private finance to fund an ambitious and long-term programme of nature based solutions to reduce flood risk, improve water quality and enhance habitat.

Funding had been secured from DEFRA’s Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) to develop the project to the point of ‘investment readiness’ – being ready for financial investors to then fund project delivery.

To be successful this project will need to work with a wide range of partner organisations, as well as the farmers and landowners, including the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Natural England and National Highways.

Full details of the project are available here.


A bund across the floodplain to temporarily store flood water and reducd flood risk downstream.

A new pond for wildlife, with extra capacity to hold water during flood events.

Bankside tree planting, for wildlife and reducing runoff.