Annual General Meeting and Film Showing of “High Water Common Ground” – 12th April

The Annual General Meeting and film showing of “High Water Common Ground” on Thursday 12th April at 7.00pm at The Waterfront Hall, Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Hebden Bridge. Directions here.

On Thursday 12th April, Slow The Flow: Calderdale will be holding its first public meeting of 2018 which will consist of its AGM followed by a showing of “High Water Common Ground”, a film about flooding and what we can do now to reduce the risk of flooding here and throughout the UK… made by filmmaker Andy Clark.

To book your FREE tickets, follow the link here

Slow The Flow: Calderdale have had an amazing year. Well over 100 volunteers have installed nearly 150 leaky woody dams at Hardcastle Crags and have also raised over £15,000 including donations from the Yorkshire Tough Mudder event in July.

Slow The Flow: Calderdale have also won 2 major awards:

The SWIG Award for the “Best Project in 2017” and the Calderdale Community Foundation “Great & Green” Award.

Slow The Flow: Calderdale are currently in negotiation to secure further funding to develop more sites in Calderdale to install leaky woody dams and other attenuation schemes.

Please come and help Slow The Flow: Calderdale celebrate their achievements and also see an exclusive screening of the amazing film “High Water Common Ground”.


7.00 pm – Welcomes and introductions. Financial report and election of officers.

7.30 pm – Overview of Slow The Flow projects carried out in 2017 and plans & projects for 2018.

8.00 pm – Showing of film “High Water Common Ground” introduced by film maker Mr. Andy Clark. “High Water Common Ground” was filmed over two years and features inspirational speakers with a national perspective! More info here

9.15 pm – Questions & AOB.

9.30 pm – Finish and retire to the pub.

Refreshments will be provided. We look forward to seeing you at 7pm on Thursday 12th April at Hebden Bridge Town Hall.

Please register here to reserve your FREE place.

End of 2017 update

After nearly a year working with The National Trust at Hardcastle Crags, we have now built 117 leaky woody dams using over 100 volunteers. Our volunteers have worked incredibly hard in 2017 and we simply would not have achieved what we have without all this incredible help. A massive Thank you if you have helped in any way on this project.

Early indications are that these leaky woody dams in Hardcastle Crags are  working to slow the flow and reducing the impact of flood water finding its way down the Calder Valley. Formal results of how much water has been slowed will be published in the New Year!

Certain in the knowledge that what we are doing works to reduce the impact of amount of water finding its way to our towns and villages, we will continue into 2018. However, we still need volunteers to continue with this important work. If you can help in any way whatsoever, please do get in touch or come to one of our volunteer days at Hardcastle Crags.

Click here for volunteer days for 2018.

There is still lots to do, not just in Hardcastle Crags, but across the Calder Valley and we are working with our partners to identify other areas which would benefit from the installation of these leaky dams. If you know of such an area, please do get in touch so we can arrange a survey and see how we can Slow The Flow near you.

After over a year in the planning, and with the recent grant made from The Calder Flood Partnership to The National Trust for work at Hardcastle Crags to ‘Slow The Flow’, volunteers have started work in the gullies leading into the river which flows into the River Calder.

New equipment has been bought, natural materials have been sourced and managed and volunteers have been recruited and trained to build leaky dams and for gully stuffing throughout the Crags.

To date, around 100 new volunteers have worked in this beautiful part of the Calder Valley and significant progress has been made in a number of gullies leading into the main channel in the Crags.

Volunteers ranging in age from 10 to over 70 have taken part. Work ranges from sawing timber, trimming brush, digging, and moving trunks into place to form leaky dams and to stuff gullies to encourage rain water onto the banks during heavy rainfall. The channels still work in normal flow but to try and reduce the amount of water making it into the main channels, the gully stuffing and leaky dams force the rain water over the banks and onto the slops.

This programme will continue throughout the summer in the Crags so if you want to get involved, contact us here to book your place. We usually start at 9.30 am and finish by lunchtime, currently over weekends.

Work parties are also being arranged during the week so if your company or organisation would like to get involved, please contact is here register with us. We already have 3 large organisations who will be working with us throughout the summer.

You will need to fairly fit although you will not be expected to carry heavy weights or work beyond your own limitations.  All we ask is that you have a desire to help ‘Slow The Flow’. There are a range of tasks suitable for all ages as we have already demonstrated with our amazing volunteers who have helped to date.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON CHILDREN WHO WANT TO VOLUNTEER  –  children under 18 are VERY welcome to volunteer but they must be supervised by you at all times. Please be aware that there are chain saws in use (solely by fully trained personnel) and dangers associated with: mechanical and manual movement of very heavy logs; unsupervised saws and other blades laid on the ground; and axes and saws in full swing. It is possible to work in areas where some of these dangers are not present but they may be adjacent to areas where they are present.

Results of research conducted on Plate Weirs installed in brooks on the Hebden Water catchment

Results of research conducted on Plate Weirs installed in brooks on the Hebden Water catchment – By Stuart Bradshaw from Slow The Flow Management Team.

In January 2016 I wrote a blog and published it on LinkedIn entitled “Pound for pound could this simple weir save our uplands from future flooding”,, this pre-dates my involvement with Slow the Flow Calderdale which came later in the year.  I wrote this blog in the aftermath of Boxing Day 2015 and the devastating flooding which deluged the Upper Calder Valley and other parts of Northern England thanks to Storm Eva.  In fact it is largely because of this blog that I then met Amanda McDermott and Robin Gray who are both now valued and active committee members of StFC and it was only following these introductions that I first considered the possibility of forming a group of like minded individuals who were keen to try and do something positive to reduce flood risk here in the Calder Valley.

The “Pound for pound” blog also opened up connections with University of Leeds Department of Geography from where a young post-graduate student named Alex Clark approached me to see if he could do some research on the efficiency of plate weirs, and in particular on the weirs I had installed here on the Hebden Water catchment. I was more than happy to help and so Alex and I went about setting up some pressure gauges upstream and downstream of two weir cascades and the results from this research are now available here for anyone who is interested:   HB_Dissertation_A Clark Final

I will let Alex’s report speak for itself but it is apparent certainly to me that there is some definite positive benefits to be gained from installing small obstructions in watercourses in appropriate places, whether its plate weirs or woody debris dams.  These type of interventions are just some of the ideas we will be implementing beginning soon in Hardcastle Crags with the National Trust, just one of our projects underway with Slow the Flow Calderdale.

If you want to get involved then please get in touch. In fact when I think of it, the “Pound for pound” blog has brought us quite some way since the dark days of January 2016.

Stuart Bradshaw BSc(Hons) MSc DIC CEng MIStructE M.ASCE FGS

Helping Ourselves (Part 2); The importance of river surveys and a pilot project for Hardcastle Crags

Slow The Flow have applied via Source Partnership for a grant from the Environment Agency to install small structures at up to sixty identified sites in watercourses in Hardcastle Crags. Our engineers have been out looking at the rivers and the surrounding banks to determine the best places to install interventions in the Crags, National Trust owned land. The structures will either be small wooden plate weirs or small leaky woody dams made from logs, their purpose to “Slow the Flow”, our maxim and one that is hoped will reduce the flood peak and help prevent catastrophic flooding to our downstream towns and villages.

Phase 1 of the project will be for small interventions on brooks and ditches with some study work in preparation for Phase 2. Phase 2 programmed for 2017 is for larger leaky woody dams on Hebden Water itself, along with attenuation ponds.
Slow The Flow have also applied for additional grant aid again from the EA for further studies into similar interventions in Crimsworth Dean on Crimsworth Dean Beck, this is rather more complicated and expected to take longer to come to fruition due to land ownership issues and the fact that the river bed is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England.
It is hoped this project will be a pilot that will shine a spotlight on the Calder Valley and the steps we are taking to help ourselves, at least some of the work will be carried out by volunteers, so if you want to help yourself or your neighbours here is your opportunity, it is hoped work will commence in the Autumn.

In order to secure funding one of the stumbling blocks we have to get over relates to the way the EA is funded and a requirement to demonstrate the benefits of the proposed interventions. This is no easy task, however it is not insurmountable as our colleagues at Pickering can vouch for. We believe we can make a case for these works by a combination of river level monitoring and river (computer) modelling. Currently the EA have only one river gauge on Hebden Water, below Valley Road bridge, a much better picture of the river in flood would be attained by introducing further gauges on structures upstream of Valley Road. This can be done relatively cheaply using these types of gauges which cost around £300 each.

River modelling was one of the first objectives of Slow The Flow and for good reason. The Pickering project came about by effective river modelling to substantiate the benefits of introducing interventions into stream flows, they were lucky in some respects because the Pickering Beck was the subject of a Defra funded project so their modelling (or at least the initial phases) was funded and it was relatively straightforward to use these models to make an adequate case . At the present juncture we are being asked to substantiate benefits without any funding in place, a classic chicken and egg situation.

We will have to apply some pressure if we are to make any headway, this is ongoing but in the meantime, the data that we will eventually need for this exercise still needs to be collated. We have a small team of river surveyors but we need more hands on deck if we are to obtain the geometric data in timely fashion that is needed to compile the river models. So here again we return to the “Helping ourselves” principle that I wrote about in Part 1 of this blog.
Why have the EA not surveyed the rivers sufficiently, surely they must have done this for their current river models?

The EA’s remit is for the main river, the Calder, the tributaries fall under the responsibility of the Lead Local Flood Authority, Calderdale MBC. The EA have geometric survey data only for the Calder and for a short stretch of each tributary. The modelling we are proposing introduces out of channel flow caused by introducing interventions in the stream flow, so the channel depths, widths and the channel roughness play a significant role in the modelling process. A rougher channel with say cobbles and boulders in the stream bed slows the water as opposed for example to a concrete lined channel. It is this data which can only be obtained by fieldwork that is central to our case.

If you can help the cause then please get in touch via our website.

Stuart Bradshaw C.Eng.