Re-Meandering The Upper Lyme Brook

Take a bow Groundwork West Midlands (particularly Richard, Francesca & Chris) - myself and Tim Jacklin from team Wild Trout Trust really enjoyed working with you and the great volunteers from the National Citizens Service.

Together we turned what was one of possibly the straightest of any straightened sections of brook into a section with quite a lot more variety. This is what the section looked like in winter:

Though, in high summer, almost none of the water was actually visible when the 360 digger arrived on site ahead of the volunteers (I wanted a day to sculpt the basic shape of the brook before Tim, Francesca, Chris and the volunteers came on site for days 2 and 3).

So, once we found the wet bit of the river, operator David and me could start to collaborate in remodelling the stream. I'm always in awe of how much control these folks have with a machine and bucket - and we soon got into a great working and communication routine. It is fantastic to see the physical changes to the river taking shape before your eyes - and always amazing that what I can visualise mentally is possible for a talented driver to create in reality.

Re-casting the material won from creating the bend allows a shallow bench/small floodplain to be recreated within the incised channel.

Using the existing root-masses on the opposite bank to each bench that we created let us steer the river left and right...

Having created a new cross-sectional profile and plan-form at the end of the first day - that paved the way for the team of specialists and volunteers to consolidate and improve the basic skeleton of the wiggling brook.


Having consolidated the bank toe along the deeper (scour pool) habitat on the outside of each bend with brash (which also produced instant cover habitat) - we could then create a framework to stabilise the shallow benches. This was done by installing a larger log towards the centre of each bench which would retain material on its upstream side. Then radial "laths" of long, straight and smaller diameter stems were staked over the top of a thin layer of brash.

As well as stabilising the redistributed material, this allowed us to plant native plant species (principally flag iris and sedge) in amongst this matrix. Over time, as well as providing valuable floral diversity, the root masses of those plants will also act to further stabilise the new path and profile of the brook.
Plug plants ready for planting in the newly-created brash-matrix framework (background)

Well done all - thank you for your hard work across all aspects of the project, and thanks for going along with my design ideas too. Watch this space for updates on how these works bed in over time (and any additional work we can do on the site when the opportunity arises).

If you like this project, share this post so it can inspire other folks too.

Paul