Watermark gets active at Hardcastle Crags

We had the absolute pleasure of spending the day building leaky dams and finding out about all things NFM with a variety of agencies and volunteers on a cold, wet, January day.

NFM or Natural Flood Management is a natural process to reduce the risk of flooding, it can change the way land is managed, restore landscapes, benefitting people and wildlife.

Our venue was Hardcastle Crags, a beautiful hidden gem nestled in the wooded Pennine Valley, Hardcastle Crags is owned by the National Trust and stands in more than 160 hectares of woodland and grassland.

slow the flow

NFM is one of the key objectives of the Hardcastle Crags woodland management plan, along with partners Environment Agency and Slow The Flow Calderdale they are installing a range of natural flood management interventions on their land to reduce the impact of flood water finding it’s way down to the Calder Valley.

To date Slow the Flow with the help of over 100 volunteers and the team at Hardcastle Crags have built in excess of 125 leaky dams.

slow the flow

We arrived to the sound of heavy rain but not to be perturbed we kitted ourselves out with waterproofs and wellies and got stuck in. There is an incredible amount of team work involved and members of Slow The Flow are in key areas to demonstrate, advise and help with the work.

We were tasked with creating a set of leaky dams on a steep and very wet and slippy piece of woodland, sturdy boots and a bit of balance are required! Due to the rainfall we could actually see the water cascading down various passages, this allowed us to see where we were directing the flow and whether it was effective. It’s fascinating stuff, people working above us were directly affecting our decisions on where we should build and how big and wide we should create our dams.

What’s really great about the whole process is that we were utilising all trees, branches and trunks that were readily available around the site, some trunks needed cutting and lifting into place by the stronger volunteers but it was a process of laying larger trunks, adding smaller branches on top and stuffing with whatever you could find to fill in the gaps.

You could stand back and see the water being held back in an attenuation pond behind the dam and then slowly make it’s way through the available gaps, slowing the flow in a great natural way.

The work here is exemplary, we look forward to Spring when the formal results of how much water has been slowed will be published.  It will need to rain sufficiently to measure the success of this pilot project but we are sure that it will be a success!

This year there are numerous opportunities to get involved through further volunteer days, the dates are below, please email secretary@slowtheflow.net to book your free space. You meet at the bottom car park at Hardcastle Crags at 9.30am on volunteer days.

Further Dates for 2018 are

Feb 11th and 25th,
March 11th & 25th,
April 8th & 22nd,
May 13th & 27th,
June 10 & 24th,
July 8th & 22nd,
Aug 12th & 26th,
Sept 9th & 23rd,
Oct 14th & 28th,
Nov 11th & 25th,
And finally Dec 9th & 23rd