Natural Flood Management

The community where we live, work and farm is extremely important to us, and we’re always looking for ways that we can help support and protect it.

Reston Scar – Natural Flood Management

What is it?

Natural Flood Management (NFM) projects are designed to store, slow, and disrupt flows of rivers, becks and on land.  NFM strives to emulate natural processes that also maximise conservation benefits, including the use of sustainable materials.  The innovative Cumbrian NFM pilot programme was funded by the Department of Food and Rural Agriculture (DEFRA) and administrated by the Environment Agency.

The Landowners

Reston Scar is a 200 metre high fell located above Staveley.  Reston Scar is owned and farmed by Martin Black and Black Crag is farmed by us at Lakeland Farm Visitor Centre.  We made the land available for this project to demonstrate how agricultural land can be used to ‘slow the flow’ in extreme weather events while still remaining true to traditional farming practices with no cost to stock numbers.  NFM techniques impact the land on a short-term basis but provide long-term flood benefits to the local area.

These works highlight the difference local landowners can have on local flood prevention and their aims to:

  • Protect residents within communities
  • Produce food for their communities
  • Provide employment to secure communities directly and indirectly

The Benefits


Divert and store flood water as well as significantly slowing the flow of water during intense storm events.

  1. Reduce flood risk to the residents in Staveley below Reston Scar
  2. Continued food protection and maintenance of traditional farming techniques.
  3. Increased wellbeing resulting from positive work conducted to protect communities at risk.
  4. Providing an opportunity to teach people about the benefits of NFM.
  5. Community monitoring programme providing opportunities to learn and get involved with nature.

The Community

In 2019, Staveley was listed by the Cumbria Strategic Flood Partnership as a Priority Community at Risk (pCaR).  Local volunteers are also assisting in monitoring the structures during high flows.

South Cumbria Rivers Trust

SCRT are a small environmental charity aiming to improve the health and quality of South Cumbria’s rivers and lakes.  They have been the lead delivery partner for a number of NFM projects locally, including Kendal, Troutbeck and now Staveley.  Cumbria based Catchment Designs Ltd were SCRT’s appointed contractor who designed and installed the NFM techniques chosen for each site.

What has been done?

LEAKY DAMS – are engineered timer structures, designed to mimic the NFM attributes of naturally fallen trees.  They work to reduce the risk from surface and in-river flows by temporarily slowing and/or storing water during storm events.  Leaky dams are designed and built to avoid impacts on natural flows, the ecology of the watercourse and impacts to farmland.

KERPLUNKS – These structures are designed to be more open in form than dams.  Logs are installed to a variety of heights to capture and slow flood events of varying magnitude.  They do this by adding roughness to the channel to slow floods, thereby delaying the intensity and timing of flood peaks downstream.

Phase 1

6 large leaky dams, up to 21m wide and 1.5 high and 3 kerplunk structures installed in summer 2020.  All structures were dynamically designed to allow for the unique attributes of each location and made using locally felled larch.  Drainage works and path works have also been completed to divert path flow runoff and store water in natural depressions, allowing it to permeate the ground slowly.

Phase 2

A further 3 large leaky time dams and 3 kurplunk structures were installed in Winter 2020.

Phase 3

A flow diversion pathway created around Reston Hall to channel flow away from at risk properties in February 2021.

Who else has been involved with us?