river dipping at Flakebridge

Nurturing natural rivers and wildlife havens: celebrating three years of habitat improvements in the Trout Beck catchment

On a sunny Saturday in March, we marked the end of our EU funded Water Environment Grant project on the Trout Beck with a celebration day for members of the community and volunteers.

More than 40 people descended on Ghyll Barn near Long Marton for a morning of river conservation activities such as river dipping, willow weaving with Phil Bradley, scything, hedge planting with Susie Grainger, tree grafting with Chris Braithwaite and river walks covering tree identification and habitat surveys with Gareth Pedley from the Wild Trout Trust. After lunch, they enjoyed a field visit to Flakebridge, one of the sites that have benefitted from a wide range of habitat improvements as part of the project.

Jenny Garbe, ERT Project Manager said:

The celebration was a fantastic way to end our three-year Water Environment Grant (WEG) project. We were delighted that so many people came along to learn more about the project and the work completed and hopefully picked up some new skills along the way!

It was great to be able to look back and showcase the huge amount of work we have achieved since 2019 and to take the opportunity to thank our amazing volunteers who have helped so much.


Key to the success of this project has been the support from local farmers, landowners and volunteers and the day celebrated their contribution. Jenny added:

We’d like to say an extra special thanks to one of our volunteers, Andrew Green, who was awarded the golden whistle as a token to show how grateful we are for the exceptional time he has put into volunteering, particularly in this catchment area. 

ERT volunteer Andrew Green with the Golden Whistle

ERT volunteer Andrew Green with the Golden Whistle. Copyright Stuart Walker Photography 2022

The Trout Beck catchment broadly runs from the upper reaches of High Cup Nick to the River Eden at Kirkby Thore, taking in the becks near Appleby, Long Marton and Dufton

Over the last three years, we have completed a wide range of projects in this area to improve fish habitat, restore river channels so that natural river processes can occur and put in place plans to remove invasive non-native species, such as the dreaded (and widespread) Himalayan balsam. Highlights from the project include protecting 4.3km of river from livestock poaching, planting more than 1700 trees and 2500 hedge plants, creating educational resources on how to bash Himalayan balsam and enhancing 4ha of floodplain wetland.

All this was made possible thanks to funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) via the Water Environment Grant and further support from the Oglesby Charitable Trust for fencing off riverbanks to prevent livestock access.

Here’s a short film about the day. Photos by Stuart Walker Photography


Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon
Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon