Work has taken place to restore the riverbed of a rare chalk stream in Melbourn.

The River Mel - which provides a home for brown trout, water voles and occasionally kingfishers - has become degraded in recent years.

The Wild Trout Trust, Cambridge Water, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Melbourn Parish Council teamed up for the restoration project.

Over the last decade, the River Mel Restoration Group has carried out improvement and restoration work, but have found it difficult to maintain.

Royston Crow: Work took place to restore the riverbed of the River Mel in MelbournWork took place to restore the riverbed of the River Mel in Melbourn (Image: South Cambs District Council)

The Wild Trout Trust has now restored the riverbed using a blend of gravel and chalk. The bend now rises and falls smoothly, helping the river to flow at different rates and increasing the range of habitats.

Funding provided from Cambridge Water was used to purchase approximately 200 tonnes of gravel, while Melbourn Parish Council provided an additional grant.

The district council's 'awarded watercourses' team provided staff and equipment, such as excavators and trailers, to place the mix of stone along the riverbed.

Wild Trout Trust conservation officer, Rob Mungovan, said: "This restoration work is starting from the bottom up.

"If we can restore the bed of our rivers, then we’re re-creating an important habitat. Riverbeds are where trout spawn, mayflies live, and water weeds grow.


"Many of our chalk streams have been over-dredged so they are little more than deep silty ditches.

"We know that this kind of habitat restoration can’t put more, or better quality, water in the river, but it can help to make it more resilient to all its other challenges.

"This stretch of the River Mel now flows as a bright stream once again."

As the river flow is increased it becomes a more favourable environment for plants found in chalk streams, like water crowfoot and starwort.

One of the South Cambs district councillors for Melbourn, Cllr Jose Hales, said: "Our chalk streams are so precious as is the wildlife around them.

"We as a community owe such a debt to the River Mel Restoration Group for their year-on-year maintenance of the chalk stream and of course the Wild Trout Trust and Cambridge Water for doing the recent work."