The River Kennet flows through the urban centre of Reading and is fed by a number of brooks, each one important in its own right.
The Foudry Brook rises on the heathland east of Tadley and flows north-east through Mortimer, Wokefield and under the M4 before joining the River Kennet below Fobney.
It is joined by the Silchester Brook just south of Mortimer and the Clayhill Brook east of Burghfield. In its lower reaches, below the M4, it has been modified by straightening and dredging as it flows through the industrial area of south Reading. It receives the outfall from the Sewage Treatment Works at Reading which reduces water quality. The invasive plant species floating pennywort is a particular problem in the lower reaches.
Its waterbody status is poor due to sewage discharge, barriers to fish passage and urban development.
- There has been a fish easement at Stratfield Mortimer.
- Around Brook Farm there is a nice stretch of river which has a good gravel bed and pool-riffle sequences present.
- At Grazeley at walkover is required to identify if there is an apparent section of habitat we can enhance to link with other better quality sections that are already present.
- Reading and District Angling Association have been monitoring the growth of pennywort both in the Foudry Brook and the relief channel and have been taking steps to eradicate it.
- Opportunities to restore the physical habitat are limited due to the highly urban nature of the channel and the fact that it runs along the A33 for much of its length. Any enhancements to the main channel will require discussions with the landowners, which should be pursued if the opportunity arises.
The Holy Brook runs for six miles as a channel of the River Kennet, flowing to the north of the main channel from Arrowhead at Theale and then rejoining it in the centre of Reading, just downstream of the Abbey Mill by the prison.
Part of the brook flows underneath Reading town centre before rejoining the Kennet by Reading Abbey. It powered the watermill of Reading Abbey, hence its name of the Holy Brook.
A side stream of the brook runs into the Kennet again at Calcot and also powered the Calcot Water Mill, which was owned by Reading Abbey. Some parts of the channel are natural, whilst other parts were created in medieval times to supply water to water mills and fish ponds. The Holy Brook is part of a network of streams which drain the Kennet Water Meadows, one of the few remaining areas of open countryside close to the centre of Reading. The area is an important, accessible open space, valued for both wildlife and recreation, including walking, fishing and bird watching.
The Holy Brook is recognised as a key spawning habitat for coarse fish, particularly barbel and chub.
Its waterbody status is moderate due to dissolved oxygen.
- Source to weir at Rose Kiln Court: Calcot Mill forms a complete barrier to fish migration and causes a significant impoundment upstream. There is potential to achieve fish passage on at least one of the channels which exit the brook upstream of the mill by installing a technical fish pass and, as one of the structures around the mill is currently failing, there may be an opportunity to do some works in the near future. A walkover of the entire stretch is required to identify enhancement options.
- Reading: restoration is required on this stretch of the brook but is not compatible with the urbanised setting. We rely on planning gains as and when redevelopment takes place to secure enhancement work.
Burghclere Brook, Kingsclere Brook & Baughurst Brook
These brooks are southern tributaries of the River Enbourne. All except the Baughurst Brook rise on chalk, and all are important fish spawning streams. The Kingsclere Brook supports a small population of wild brown trout.
The waterbody status of Burghclere Brook is poor due to dissolved oxygen and land drainage. The waterbody status of Kingsclere Brook is moderate due to sewage discharge and groundwater abstraction. The waterbody status of Baughurst Brook is moderate due to dissolved oxygen and groundwater abstraction.
This channel is probably quite shaded and tree works may be an enhancement option. A walkover is required to establish if this is appropriate enhancement work considering this is a naturally woody stream, and to identify other enhancement options.
Maintenance of this reach should be limited to allow further recovery. A walkover is required to determine if fish passage is possible and if there is any benefit to removing the structures on this reach.
This reach would benefit from some in-channel enhancements, such as large woody debris. A walkover is required to determine other enhancement options, but tree works to reduce shading are a possibility.
Ecchinswell Brook flows into the River Enbourne. It is a significant stream, rising on chalk, and is accessible by public footpath. Ecchinswell is thought to have got its name from the Latin Eikena meaning ‘oak’, with the village and brook meaning ‘well by the oaks’. Its waterbody status is moderate due to dissolved oxygen, poor nutrient management and poor livestock management.
- The fluvial audit recommends that maintenance within the high sensitivity reaches should be minimal, focusing on riparian woodland management. The moderate/low sensitivity reaches offer opportunities for enhancement, continued low maintenance/restoring/planting of riparian trees and the re-creation of meanders.
- At Kisby’s Farm, on the lower half of the reach, the channel is dammed to form an artificial lake and this affects the nature of the channel up- and downstream; the RCS recommends removing the weir/dam and reinstating the original channel structure.
- A walkover is required to confirm the fluvial audit and RCS recommendations. Small-scale works, such as large woody debris and ‘roughening up’ the channel, will possibly be the most beneficial enhancements to make here.