Looking after the River Skell

We are currently working in conjunction with The National Trust at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal and other local groups on an exciting new project to apply for funding to improve the landscape around the River Skell.

The River Skell runs from its source just north of Pateley Bridge through Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal to Ripon. Its route is rich in heritage with stunning scenery and a diverse range of wildlife. Over time these special features have become neglected, disjointed and hidden from view and if nothing is done to protect them they could be lost forever.

Features include the spa building at Aldfield, which has now fallen into disrepair; the dramatic heights of the sandstone cliffs at Eavestone that become overgrown with woodland; pathways and carriage drives which once linked the area together are now virtually impassable; and a number of historic features along the way are now almost lost from view.

Poor water quality is also a problem as a result of soil entering the water course from land upstream and this is having a negative effect on important species like brown trout, salmon, river lamprey and white-clawed crayfish. In addition the river catchment is an area of high flood risk.

The aims of the project are to:

  • Research, record and repair heritage features surrounding the River Skell that have been hidden from public view for decades so that people can enjoy them once again.
  • Reduce the amount of soil loss and run-off from agricultural land so that wildlife can  thrive in a better quality of water.
  • Use sustainable solutions such as native woodland planting, re-introduction of sphagnum moss on moorland and run-off ponds to reduce flood risk and soil loss to lessen the damage caused to historic buildings and water features along the river.
  • Allow more people to enjoy what the River Skell has to offer by making it more accessible by improving footpaths, adding signs, and developing trails.
  • Involve people in improving their surrounding heritage and wildlife by providing opportunities for people to learn new skills and take an active role in managing the local area.

For more information on the Project please contact AONB Managers Paul Burgess or Sarah Kettlewell.

Photo Credits: 

Header Image: Source of the River Skell at Dallowgill_Chris Lacey
Gallery Images: 1. The River Skell winding its way through Studley Royal Water Garden_The National Trust at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal; 2. Fountains Abbey_Chris Lacey; 3. Seven Bridges Valley_Chris Lacey; 4. Eavestone Lake_Chris Lacey.