Slow the Flow – Water Management

Over the last 4 years the Quantock Hills Rangers have worked in close partnership with colleagues from Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SW and Natural England to carry out some “Slow the Flow” works mainly in the Wills Neck and Aisholt Common area.

Funding from the Somerset Rivers Authority under the theme of Natural Flood Management has paid for a variety of techniques to prevent excessive water run off from the hills, particularly into steep sided combes and into villages.

In the first few years we have trialled various methods to “slow the flow”. Along the track from Lydeard Hill car park we employed a contractor to install some stone-faced grips to take water off the path so that the gravel surface was not eroded. These have settled really well and are working efficiently.

Further along the same track towards Middle Hill we used less hard landscaping materials to achieve the same affect by re-profiling the existing stone and soil where there was a flatter surface.

At the base of Wills Neck the old gravel pits were dug out further to create a deeper pond to allow the water run off to flow into and provide a water supply for the ponies to drink from. This holding pool of water means that less is flowing off the hills into the valleys.

Towards the summit of Wills Neck we have installed some coir matting on some bare patches of exposed soil to stabilise the ground surface, whilst allowing the natural heather and grasses to grow through. Initially the matting stood out due to its colouring, but it has weathered considerably and now has significant vegetation growing through it.

Finally, the main activity has been to install woody dams [left] at the top of the combes and lanes to slow the flow of water.

Silver birch regrowth on the open common has been cut and then used to build the structures to help accumulate leaves and vegetation, thus filtering and slowing the run off.

All of the methods employed have been successful and we intend to continue installing more. In addition we are now looking at sites across the hills to help with the water management.

This article was previously published in the 2020 Friends of Quantock Magazine, available only to members. Join Friends of Quantock online today!