The Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and The Wild Trout Trust were awarded funding in 2020 to carry our improvements to the River Mel and Vicar's Brook
In 2020 we commissioned a specialist analysis of the chalk streams in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire in partnership with Cambridge City Council. Specialists from The Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and The Wild Trout Trust assessed the health of these internationally rare chalk streams, which provide habitats for many significant species, such as brown trout and water vole, and provided a programme of actions for local groups and stakeholders to fund and implement in partnership.
The Wildlife Trust BCN and The Wild Trout Trust applied for funding from the PEBBLE fund to make improvements to two of those chalk streams, the River Mel and Vicar's Brook.
The Vicar's Brook flows at the edge of New Bit Common and forms an important thoroughfare from Trumpington Street to Lammas Land and Newnham. Work to the Vicar's Brook included adding gravel to restore the river bed profile and reshaping of shallow runs through a "dig 'n dump". The project will increase the brook's suitability for a range of fish, including brown trout and has already seen some success, with the return of fish to the brook.
Photo shows: Vicar's Brook before the work, with a straight channel and no diversity in flow, so it cannot self clean. It is also heavily sedimented with no gravels on the bed.
The River Mel
A public footpath takes walkers over the Mel at the rear of Meldreth church in the centre of the village. However, views from the footbridge were disappointing as all you could see was a silty river disappearing into a tunnel of scrub and bramble. The work to the River Mel included scrub management, installation of faggots to form low-level ledges for planting and sediment management to enable the river to cleanse itself prior to the addition of gravel as spawning habitat. Opening up this area of the river will provide an opportunity for villagers and walkers on the footpaths to see brown trout, minnow, brook lamprey and water voles.
Photo shows The River Mel behind brambles
Update following the work
Greater Cambridge Chalk Streams Project
Find out more about the Greater Cambridge Chalk Streams Project
Posted: July 2021