Groundwork Landscape Architects

Gledhow Lake3 min read


Locations: Gledhow Park, Leeds

Clients: Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods (FoGVW), Wades Trust, Leeds City Council, Parks & Countryside, National Heritage Lottery Fund

Background & Objectives:

The project aims to carry out essential conservation work to secure the long-term future of the lake that is likely to disappear due to the build -up of silt in the lake and lack of regular maintenance if no remedial action is taken. The experience of visitors will be improved by providing interpretation boards explaining the history and wildlife of the area, paths upgraded and marginal planting carried out to create a richer range of environments for wildlife. Invasive plant species will also be removed. 

The project will provide a range of volunteering opportunities to people from surrounding local communities. The project will benefit from generous additional funding from project partners Wades Charity and Leeds City Councils Parks and Countryside Directorate.

The lake and surrounding woodland are a much-loved focal point for the local community. The lake dates from at least medieval times when it most likely functioned as a monastic fish pond. From the late 1760s the lake, complete with cascades and bankside paths, became a central feature of the Gledhow Hall estate, inspired by the fashions that became popular as a result of European travel by the English upper classes. 

Design Solution:

The build up of silt through run-off from the valley sides and the annual impact of leaves from surrounding trees was creating stagnation through a blockage of the flow that would lead to the secession of damp woodland. The intention was to remove silt and increase the water flow while removing some of the self-seeded trees and overhanging vegetation from the lake sides.

Environment Agency regulations limited the approach to removal from site of the silt so we designed a series of below water porous fences that would contain the silt and provide a medium to grow a variety of native aquatic and emergent plants.

The importance of this site as a public resource meant that it was essential to protect the public from the silt and the water’s edge. FoGVW organised a community installation of a dead hedge along the bank of the lake that would use up brashing from the trees, provide a fence and a resource for local fauna, over time there will be increasing native climbers growing through the dead hedge.


The restoration of Gledhow Valley Lake has brought life back into the bottom of the valley. The works have enabled have freed up open water to allow a flow that has increased the flora and fauna, providing a resource that the public can enjoy, the biodiversity provides a great source of interest and has sponsored local interest in carrying out further restoration works in the valley.

Natural secession is an ongoing task that can be maintained through careful management, Gledhow Valley Lake through FoGVW will follow these principles to maintain a future resource for biodiversity, flora and fauna and public use.

Mark Knight

Landscape Team Leader

Yorkshire and Humberside Team

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