River Darent at Eynsford gets a make-over

The Darent Valley Trout Fishers, the Environment Agency and the Wild Trout Trust have teamed up to improve two sections of the River Darent near Eynsford.

The most striking element of the enhancement has been to restore a long section of river that previously had sluggish flow, full of soft sediment and choked with emergent burr reeds, as a direct result of excessive dredging work carried out many years ago. A key part of this scheme was also to improve flood plain connectivity, as well as providing habitat capable of supporting flow-loving fish species like trout.

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The Darent before restoration

Work started on improving the reach in October 2019 and in three days, it was transformed by raising the bed levels by approximately 300mm, with 240 tonnes of locally-imported gravels. Care was taken to ensure that valuable emergent plants were saved by peeling back the fringe with a long reach excavator and carefully pushing the reed sods back into position with the back of the excavator bucket. Several pool & run” features were then created by importing and securing live willow flow deflectors won from a fallen tree just downstream of the work site.

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Bed raised and bank lowered for improved connection to the flood plain
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A flowing trout stream slowly emerges

Further work was carried out downstream of the viaduct with new faggot revetment and channel narrowing, as well as recharging an old ford crossing with fresh gravels to improve provide spawning opportunities. This reach will also be fenced in the coming weeks to eliminate cattle poaching issues and to allow the whole section to recover.

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WTT Conservation Officer Nick Lawrence sporting his new hard hat and working with DVTF volunteers to restore a bank line with imported faggot bundles

The DVTF and WTT are extremely grateful for the help and support supplied by the landowner and the help of the EA’s Fisheries and Biodiversity team in providing survey support and the bulk of the funding to help make this project possible.