Tag Archives: Restoration

Hertford gets the Wild Trout Trust treatment

John Shannon from the East Yorkshire Rivers Trust inspecting the Hertford Cut drainage channel before work begins.

John Shannon from the East Yorkshire Rivers Trust inspecting the Hertford Cut channel before work begins.

A demonstration day on the Hertford Cut, organised for the Environment Agency and Vale of Pickering Drainage Board was deemed a success as two hundred metres of the drainage channel received the Wild Trout Trust treatment. (Read more about the Wild Trout Trust’s recent work on Pickering Beck here) The work carried out in May was made possible in no small part thanks to the willing help of Scarborough Conservation Volunteers who donned chest waders and took up brash bundles to learn about low-tech restoration techniques. They were able to install a decent trial stretch of in-channel features in The Hertford to show how simple intervention using local materials such as birch brash and ash stakes can enhance habitats for fish such as brown trout and grayling.

The principle is to create a two stage channel where vertical scouring and speeded flow in the centre make up for the reduction in width of the low flow channel. The narrower channel is better at regulating itself and should not be as prone to silting up. The ecology of the river benefits too from invertebrates to fish from the variety in the channel shape and flow regime.

The demonstration day was organised by The Wild Trout Trust in collaboration with East Yorkshire Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency on 22nd May. Thanks are also due to the landowner at Manor Farm Staxton, Mr Hill for accommodating the access and parking on the farm and of course to the Vale of Pickering IDB, who own and control the Hertford banks and are responsible for the maintenance of the drainage cut.

Volunteers constructing paired deflectors from brash bundles.

Volunteers constructed paired deflectors from brash bundles.The brash features are staked and wired firmly allowing flow over the top when levels rise, but in normal flows focus energy in the centre of channel to prevent silt and form some pools for fish.

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Working on a paired deflector

The features installed include 5 or so ‘paired current deflectors’ – looking like upstream pointing V’s with a narrow gap in centre. They create pinch points and deflect current inwards to the centre.

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Bundles after wiring down

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Just below the bridge is an offset brash feature, which both narrows the over-wide low-flow channel and creates sinuosity.

 Also there is a version of a ‘tree-kicker’, using felled or pleached limbs or bankside trees to create the same effect of pinching the channel.

Also there is a version of a ‘tree-kicker’, using felled or pleached limbs or bankside trees to create the same effect of pinching the channel.

Invited staff from the EA and IDB learn about the demo features and how the trail will work

Invited staff from the EA and IDB learn about the demo features and how the trial stretch may be monitored.

Three new gaugeboards were put in by the rivers trust, in order that one may monitor the impact over that stretch. All three boards were zero-ed to water level on the first day, so relative differences upstream and downstream of the demo stretch would be apparent. The EA will collate readings of the three measuring boards, collected at different flow states as the channel adjusts to the new features. More pictures of the event are on the Carrs Wetland Project facebook page.


An excellent starting point to find out more about river restoration is the Wild Trout Trust’s own website, and a simple pictorical guide to rivers restoration for fish such as trout


The Higher Carr

sunrise landfill

Daybreak over Seamer Carr

While Scarborough’s ‘carr’ land is mostly flat, expansive and low-lying, occupying that wedge of little-explored terrain between the Yorkshire Wolds and the rising ground towards The North York Moors, there is one notably elevated ‘carr’ which stands out from the Vale of Pickering, above other carrs, in a very literal sense. Were it open to public access, one would break quite a sweat to get to the top. That place, the Higher Carr I refer to, with topographic elevation to set the pulse racing, is Seamer Carr.

Jul09 reseeded landfill

Southern part of Seamer Carr in 2009 after re-seeding

Seamer Carr was not always a hill though. It too was once low and gently undulating like its neighbouring floodplain. Indeed it has yielded its fair share of Mesolithic secrets in its time, being close to the reknowned stone age site of Star Carr and part of the associated landscape of Palaeolake Flixton – marked today by the seam of dark peaty soils between Flixton and Cayton.

Seamer Carr today is a landfill site which served Scarborough and district for some decades, under the management of Yorwaste Ltd. It presents itself as a prominent hill occupying a triangular patch of land to the south of the Scarborough Business Park and visible on your right approaching the town on the A64 trunk road. The landfill site at Seamer Carr was recently closed to general waste  but the resource recovery centre remains in operation, recycling and reclaiming value from modern waste streams arriving by wagon or via the household waste site skips. Activity on this artificial hill today is focussed on shaping the land contours into their final geometry and capping the site with inert material.

One day, in the not-too-distant future, we hope it may be possible to gain public access onto this man-made-mount. When landscaping works are finished and the site is safely capped in a green blanket of living habitat once more it will be safe to open up some public access routes on the site. I count myself among the priviledged few who have been escorted to the top, clad head to toe in safety gear to admire the potential of this vista across the vale. It offers a rare vantage from the north side of the Hertford floodplain, directly adjacent to Star Carr. For the time being though, we must wait and anticipate and even, perhaps, salivate at the thought of the delicious panoramas that could reward future visitors to this man-made mound – a testament to the mark of human settlement on this landscape which first began around twelve thousand years ago…

litter issues

Seamer Carr landfill in July 2009

Covering part of the site with protective membrane, 2009

Covering part of the site with protective membrane

May 2013 Seamer Carr HLF visit

HLF visit to Seamer Carr, May 2013

excavators, dusty diggers

Landscaping on Seamer Carr,  May 2013

Investing in Peatlands

Delegates from around the world convened in York for a three day summit in Sept 2013: ‘Investing in Peatlands’. Was ever so much passion gathered together in one venue discussing moors, mires, bogs, fens and mosses?  The county of Yorkshire was splendidly represented among organisations and projects pioneering new ways to restore and protect peat landscapes and attract new investment for influencing land management.

The central theme of the conference was about new ways to secure investment partnerships that recognize the massive economic benefits provided to society by peatlands – and the massive future costs of ‘business as usual’ scenarios, especially in relation to greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and biodiversity. Peatlands are at the vanguard of the drive to establish robust economic basis for PES (Payment for Ecosystem Services) schemes.

Ploughed peaty soils in the Vale of Pickering

Ploughed peaty soils in the Vale of Pickering

A key announcement by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme was the challenge to bring a million hectares of peatlands into beneficial management by 2020. If that sounds a lot it’s because it equates to roughly a third of the UK’s entire peatland area.

Here are some more astonishing Peatland Facts from the conference.

1. Globally Peatlands cover just 3% of the land surface but store twice as much carbon as all the worlds forest biomass.

2. In the UK alone peatlands store 3 billion tonnes of Carbon, which is twenty times that of all the UK’s forests.

3. UK is ranked among the top twenty nations in terms of our total peatland area, out of 175.

4. In the EU 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions from arable farmland, comes from cropped peat soil which is kept drained for the purpose.

The IUCN launched an ambitious challenge to restore one million hectares (about a third of the UK peatlands) to good condition or restoration management by 2020. They call upon landowners, government and society at large to recognize the value of peatlands as brought together in the findings of the IUCN UK Commission of Enquiry on Peatlands. They also unveiled their draft Peatland Code an effort to establish quality standards for peatland restoration schemes.

If one needs further convincing that this is a global issue, take a glance at the report from no less an authority than the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, which  has clearly identified in its global good practice guide on peatlands the role of agriculture in mitigating climate change. The main strategies they advocate are: Secure undrained peatlands to prevent emissions; Rewet drained peatlands to reduce emissions; Adapt management of peatlands that cannot be rewetted. It is now recognized that these activities make by far the best long-term investments for carbon emissions-reduction. Never mind about planting trees, investing in hydropower, biofuels and countless other green or renewable technologies in developing countries – we have huge investment potential here in the UK.

Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale

Seamer Carr landfill 2/05/13

Seamer Carr landfill 2/05/13

May 2013 sees the deadline for a Heritage Lottery Bid by a new partnership of organisations in the eastern Vale of Pickering. This will be for an ambitious project known as ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale’, centred on the Carrs of the Hertford and Derwent near Scarborough. Over twenty organisations are looking to team up for a £2million five-year programme of projects which will see real benefits for the heritage, for communities and for people in this overlooked landscape.

As part of the final preparations for our  Landscape Partnership Scheme Stage One bid we hosted a site visit for two development officers from Yorks and Humber HLF. We set out to explain the subtleties of the Vale’s natural assets and cultural heritage, the little-appreciated threats it faces and most of all the tremendous opportunities posed by the fortuitous alignment of diverse public / private development plans and community aspirations. Not a lot to ask in a day’s tour round an area of over 100 square kilometres, 24 communities and some 20-30,000 people!

As I write I am still reeling from masterminding the packed itinerary today for the two staff from Heritage Lottery Fund. I think the march up the Seamer Carr landfill, with panoramic views over Star Carr and ‘Palaeolake Flixton’ was an inspiring start. What a contrast to clamber past the waste stacks and earth-movers to the summit of this artificial hill and experience the unique panoramic vista which this restored site could afford; and to have an expert archaeologist from the Star Carr dig team to explain the landscape history and significance was just spot on.

Over twenty people were involved in the day, either part of the entourage or posted at various way-points on the tour, to impress upon them the rare and hidden qualities of the Vale of Pickering landscape. From Seamer Carr we went through Eastfield for The Dell LNR and glimpse of Middle Deepdale development, followed by Folkton Bridge to see the River Hertford, the dramatic peat shrinkage and experience the open vistas of The Carrs before adjourning for lunch at Betton Farm visitor centre, by way of a driving tour of Folkton, Flixton, Seamer and East Ayton. Thar worked up an appetite!

After lunch we took a walk round Betton Farm’s geological SSSI quarry with its Jurassic coral reefs and sea urchin fossils. Our geology explained the rocks while warm sunshine brought out peacock butterflies and skittering hunting spiders over the violets and cowslips on the quarry floor. Another quarry lay in store for the final tour, the gravel workings on Wykeham Estate, with partners from Hanson’s aggregates and Wykeham Estate explaining the long term restoration plans and from Natural Retreats company enthusing about the high-spec sustainable tourism development they are working on with in a restored part of the workings. It was great to see so many key partners in the bid come together and share their passion and vision for Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale.