Case study:Source to Sea Programme – 5. Borrowdale Moss, Peatland Restoration

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Location: 54° 27' 6", -2° 44' 43"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Land use management - agriculture, Water quality
Country England
Main contact forename Simon
Main contact surname Thomas
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Contact organisation web site http://
Partner organisations RSPB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Cumbria Woodlands, South Cumbria Rivers Trust, Morecambe Bay Partnership, Lune Rivers Trust, Arnside & Silverdale AONB Partnership
Parent multi-site project

Case_study:Source to Sea Programme

This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Borrowdale Moss (Forest Hall) - Re-profiled peat hags

Project summary

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Borrowdale Moss is an extensive area of blanket bog occupying the head of Borrowdale and the heads of the adjacent valleys of Crookdale and Bannisdale, immediately south of the large blanket bogs of the Shap Fells SSSI. Whilst scattered patches of intact blanket bog remain over the majority of the site extensive linear peat hags have left an undulating surface with extensive species-poor vegetation on eroded sections and exposed dry peat.

The Borrowdale Moss Peatland Restoration project is designed to address diffuse pollution issues concerning the River Sprint (tributary of the Kent) and Borrow Beck (tributary of the Lune). In particular this project will address the issue of degraded peatland in the headwaters. Drain-blocking and re vegetation of bare peat has been shown to reduce particulate organic carbon (POC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) downstream, reduce carbon loss and there is growing evidence of a hydrological response changing to a less ‘flashy’ character. Peatland restoration therefore benefits not only peatland soils, vegetation and hydrological ecosystem services but also stream water quality and biodiversity downstream.

Through an extensive restoration programme involving grip blocking, re-profiling and re-vegetation of bare peat over a site greater than 800 hectares, this project will address key diffuse pollution issues in the headwaters of a number of watercourses. The project aims to move from moderate to good the River Sprint and to ensure no deterioration of Borrow Beck from good water body status. There is a real danger that unless the degraded and eroded peat on the blanket bog at the head of this valley is not addressed, that the consequences on water quality will continue to rise. The restoration will also complement and help the integrity of the adjoining Shap Fells SSSI and Lake District High Fells SAC that is currently undergoing similar works. A walkover of the site has shown that the area is extensively ‘hagged and gullied’ with areas of bare peat. Aerial photographs have identified extensive grip systems.

This project, in combination with River Restoration Strategy works being undertaken by partners, will enable good status to be achieved by tackling reasons for failure (diffuse pollution), particularly in the form of sediments. It will also meet targets for flood alleviation.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

Exposed peat - erosion problem
Re-profiling peat hags
Peat hag re-profiling before and after
Re-profiled peat hags
Re-profiled peat hags
Collecting moss for "seeding" bare peat
Softrak handling cut moss for spreading on bare peat
Softrak spreading moss on bare peat ("seeding")
Borrowdale Moss wildlife - Field Vole (Microtus agrestis)
Borrowdale Moss wildlife - Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district North West
River basin Lune


River name Borrow Beck
Area category 10 - 100 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 500 - 1000 m
Maximum altitude (m) 622
622 m
0.622 km
62,200 cm
Dominant geology Siliceous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Acid Grassland
Waterbody ID GB112072071770


Name Borrowdale Moss
WFD water body codes GB112072071770, GB112073071430
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name Borrow Beck, River Sprint
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 2012/07/30
Works started 2012/07/30
Works completed
Project completed 2015/03/31
Total cost category 100 - 500 k€
Total cost (k€)
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 Diffuse pollution
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Channel reprofiling
Floodplain / River corridor Grip blocking, Revegetation
Planform / Channel pattern
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 Cumbria Wildlife Trust promotional video of works on Borrowdale Moss (Forest Hall)

Supplementary Information

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