Case study:Cumbria River Restoration Program - Whitbeck restoration project - West Cumbria

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Location: 54° 36' 52", -3° 16' 48"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Fisheries, Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Land use management - agriculture, Land use management - forestry, Monitoring, Social benefits
Country England
Main contact forename Olly
Main contact surname Southgate
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Environment Agency
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Natural England, West Cumbria Rivers Trust
Parent multi-site project

Case_study:Cumbria River Restoration Strategy

This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Opening of the Whitbeck project on the Derwent catchment

Project summary

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This project was part of the Cumbria River Restoration Strategy which aims to develop demonstration sites of best practice river restoration.

The purpose of these projects is to make rivers more natural so they do not require costly maintenance (now the responsibility of the landowner) and improve the habitat for aquatic species. West Cumbria Rivers Trust is delivering these projects on behalf of the Environment Agency and Natural England and the aim is to complete a limited number of these projects so they can be used as demonstration sites for farmers and landowners. To-date, one major project has been completed on Whit Beck (near Lorton). Whit Beck is an actively eroding stream which drains off the Lorton Fells. It joined the River Cocker approximately three quarters of a kilometre upstream the Low Lorton village. The River Cocker then joins the River Derwent at Cockermouth. The River Derwent is of national and European significance and is classified as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

This project was undertaken on Whit Beck, a fast flowing spate tributary of the River Cocker (River Derwent SSSI) in the English Lake District. A 350m section of heavily modified raised river channel was successfully diverted to natural self-sustainable diverse 1200m long watercourse. This meant natural river processes and features were restored, the length of stream was increased, habitats were created for fish spawning, the channel was reconnected to the floodplain, and riparian trees provided wildlife corridors.

The work on the River Derwent and its tributaries (streams) forms part of the North West River Basin Management Plan, which aims to improve the health of all rivers and water bodies in the North West of England to meet standards set out in the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). This project, jointly funded by Natural England and the Environment Agency, will help contribute to meeting these standards by improving both water quality and enabling the river / stream to function more naturally.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Consideration of weather conditions during construction and possible delays Consider public access once the new channel is completed Need to monitor to analyse success in the future

Image gallery

Bars forming in new channel.JPG
Box cut construction Reach 3 moving up from Hullary Wood.JPG
Commemorative Plaque.JPG
Dry stone wall failure immediately ds UU Pipe 291014.JPG
D-s Syphon 230912.jpg
New substrate at lower end of Reach 3 as climb out of Hullary Wood.JPG
Reach 1 ptc confluence.JPG
Reach 3 looking us to Oak tree 310814.JPG

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district North West
River basin Derwent (NW)


River name Whit Beck
Area category 10 - 100 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 500 - 1000 m
Maximum altitude (m) 785
785 m
0.785 km
78,500 cm
Dominant geology Siliceous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Permanent pasture and woodland strips
Waterbody ID GB112075070380

Other case studies in this subcatchment: Whit Beck River Restoration Project


WFD water body codes GB112075070380
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name Whit Beck
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started 2014/03/01
Works started
Works completed
Project completed 2014/09/01
Total cost category
Total cost (k€) 700
700 k€
700,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure
Other reasons for the project To provide restoration demonstration sites as part of the CRRS


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor River channel diversion, Floodplain reconnection, Habitat creation
Planform / Channel pattern
Other Tree planting
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description West Cumbria Rivers Trust

Supplementary Information

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