A restoration project was carried out at Barton Court in around 2009 by the then owners in conjunction with the Environment Agency. The Estate is now working to build on that restoration across the fishery and indeed the wider estate.
Using almost exclusively natural materials, the focus of restoration is to improve habitat for fish to breed and hold, whilst improving access to the river for anglers and creating a more natural feel to the fishery.
The Kennet has suffered from low and slow flows exacerbated by abstraction upstream and years of dredging of the river channel for perceived flood protection. The aim is to narrow the channel, sometimes up to a quarter of the with to squeeze the flow and allow a faster channel which in turn scours the riverbed and removes silt. Channel narrowing is usually carried out either “hard”, using timber or faggots (bunched wood) or by reforming the bank edges using chalk, or “soft” by simply allowing or encouraging fallen vegetation or woody debris to lie across the channel.
A slow, straight channel slows current and allows sediment to drop. By forming a meander in the channel, the turbulence caused by a disrupted flow helps the water to oxygenate, improving the ability for plants and other river life to grow. This method also helps to introduce energy into the water and helps to stir and clear sediment for a cleaner riverbed. Channel forming is carried out in much the same way as narrowing, but using carefully installed timber or stone to encourage a meander.