The Arkle Beck runs through a steep sided valley and floods regularly, sometimes with devastating effects. In 2019 flooding damaged homes and businesses in Reeth.
The Heggs Castle Cluster, who have a vision to restore natural processes across a combined 200-acre site in Arkengarthdale, have been working with YDRT and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) with funding support from Two Ridings Community Foundation and Tees Swale: Naturally Connected, to implement a number of demonstration Natural Flood Management measures including: tree planting, scrape creation, bund creation and leaky barrier installation.
Photos from the Heggs-Castle Cluster bioblitz at Castle Farm in July 2021, looking at freshwater invertebrates, analysing water quality, surveying macrophytes and doing some electro-fishing, to gain an insight into the biodiversity baseline of the site.
Leaky barrier and sediment trap building 2022
Photos from the leaky barrier and sediment trap building days in November 2022. Thank you to our wonderful team of volunteers who helped out!
In summer 2023 YDRT installed 16 shallow ponds (scrapes) by excavating soil and building bunds (earthern walls across the flow of water). The ponds provide a mixture of both permanently wet areas as well as temporary ponds that only fill after rain.
These scrapes act as Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures and can help manage flood risk by working with nature to slow the flow of water into rivers. They do this by holding water back temporarily on the land followed by slow release and infiltration.
Like all good interventions these scrapes have multiple benefits. As well as NFM benefits they have big benefits for wildlife and biodiversity. Less than 1 metre in depth, and with gently sloping sides, they stay damp (and muddy!) for much of the year.
Within a week of their creation some of the scrapes had started to fill with water and wading birds, including a curlew, were seen utilising the fresh muddy edges. Recent photos show that the ponds and bunds have matured well, are holding water and have many plants and invertebrates colonising.
Many of the scrapes can be viewed along the riverside footpath that runs through the Heggs Castle cluster land. If you spot any interesting species on your walk making use of the new habitat then do let the owners know by recording your findings on their inaturalist project page For more information go to the Heggs Castle Cluster website.