Kent Catchment

Catchment Facts

  • Total area: 550km2
  • Tributaries include the rivers Gowan, Mint, Sprint, Gilpin and Winster
  • The catchment has a largely glacial origin
  • Catchment issues: flooding, widespread pollution, physical modifications, invasive species
  • Last stronghold of the native white-clawed crayfish in Europe
  • Historically supported a number of mills, mining and other industries
  • The Kent hosts a small population of the internationally endangered freshwater pearl mussel
  • Population centres include: Kendal, Staveley, Burneside, Sedgewick, Arnside and Levens
  • There was an active Kent Catchment Partnership community group. There is now a Kent Working Group, a sub-group of the Becks to Bay CaBA group. More information to come about how the organisations within the Kent catchment are working to improve, enhance and restore its freshwater systems and the land around.
  • Click here to view a map of the Kent Catchment

The Kent catchment has many valuable attributes which we should actively protect and celebrate. It is recognised nationally and internationally for its conservation importance. However, many species for which it is designated, including the freshwater pearl mussel, are now threatened and declining. There are elements of hard engineering and channel straightening, often associated with historic industry, which are common throughout the catchment. Such engineering can exacerbate problems with flooding, affecting the population centres of Kendal, Staveley and Burneside, as well as many smaller villages and agricultural land in recent years. Additionally, pollution and sedimentation issues can arise from land management, the effects of which are increased by a lack of habitat along riverbanks and in the river itself.

Protected Species

  • White Clawed Crayfish. The River Kent and tributaries is the only river system in England where populations are found throughout the catchment, from the headwaters of the Rivers Kent, Gowan, Mint and Sprint, downstream to the lower reaches of the main Kent channel near Sedgewick (Natural England SSSI Citation).
  • Freshwater Pearl Mussel. There has been a notable decline since 1999 (Natural England). Populations across Europe are aging and declining, therefore the populations in the British Isles are of international importance.
  • Bullhead
  • Water Crowfoot
  • Alternate-flowered water-milfoil
  • Reed canary-grass


For every £1 spent in the Kent Catchment towards improving the water Environment you could receive £2.34 of Benefits (River Basin Management Plan Summaries)