Science and research

UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network

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picture of Bencrom River (c) Ewan Shilland

Bencrom River

Catchment Characteristics

The Bencrom River lies in the Mourne Mountains of County Down, south-eastern Northern Ireland. The catchment area is 216 ha and rises from 140 m where the river meets the Silent Valley Reservoir to a maximum of 700 m at Slieve Meelbeg. The underlying geology is fine-grained granite with localised superficial boulder clay drift. Soils are dominated by blanket peats which are eroding in the upper part of the catchment. Moorland species characterised by Calluna, Molinia, and Sphagnum mosses, comprise the catchment vegetation, with Pteridium in the lower reaches indicating land-use disturbance in the past. Contemporary land-use and management is confined to low-intensity sheep grazing and infrequent heather burning.

The site lies within the Eastern Mournes Area of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, as well as the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The annual rainfall is c. 1800 mm.

Site Characteristics

The altitude range is from 140 m at the sampling station to 500 m at the headwaters. The channel section utilised for biological sampling lies immediately upstream of the confluence with the Silent Valley Reservoir and comprises a 4-5 m wide boulder- strewn channel with numerous rapids.

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