Floating Island

Marsden lake floating island


David Sanderson of Low Barns Photography Group presenting Laura Tedstone of Durham Wildlife Trust with a cheque for £400

After an interesting presentation to the photography group on the proposed floating island we decided to make a contribution of £400 to the project. Laura has kindly provided some information as follows: –

There used to be a very large floating island with shingle/shells on Marston Lake but due to high water it was swept onto the edge of the lake and was in disrepair. It was dismantled and removed from the resting site and it was concluded that a smaller more manageable floating island would be built and floated near to the visitor centre.

It was decided to use Marmax recycled plastic as the base to build an island approx. 3m x 1.5 m. This would float using plastic barrels rather than polystyrene floats which could potentially disintegrate into the lake. The island would be anchored but have the ability to move up and down with the changes in water levels.

The island will have protected areas for nesting birds and be covered in a suitable substrate e.g. broken shells.

Progress so far: draft plan drawn up, Marmax obtained and on site, plastic barrels sourced.

Update 7th February

I met with Laura Tedstone and Courtney Graham today for an update on the floating islands project.

The prototype raft has been constructed from Marmax, which is made from recycled plastic and bolted together. Buoyancy calculations have been made now that the weight of the raft is known and the floatation elements of he raft are being sought.

The location of the floating island has been determined which is at the end of the lake near the visitor centre. The floating island will be positioned away from the shore to eliminate the problems with predators and will be kept on place with concrete weights and chains. A bed of gravel or crushed sea shells will cover the raft bed for birds to nest on. In addition some shelters made from woven willow sourced from the reserve will be provided.

I was shown the remains of the old raft which had broken loose from its moorings and was trapped in a reed bed. The old raft ( see the picture below), which was made from railway sleepers, has been dismantled and left to rot down providing a habitat for insects etc. The crushed sea shells in the foreground of the picture may be used on the new floating island.

I would like to thank Laura and Courtney for their time today.

Update  13th March

Today some of the Low Barns volunteers are fitting the buoyancy tanks to the bottom of the raft.

Update  24 August

The raft has been launched



Finally it’s floating complete with gravel and shells!! Yes they got it finished. There are still a few tweaks to complete – another anchor and some additional substrate to add. Laura would also like to build and add some small willow wigwams but need to wait till Oct for cutting some willow.

The volunteers have done a grand job. These pictures don’t do it justice really.

It’s built from Marmax Recycled plastic, recycled plastic barrels, recycled shells from original raft (cleaned) and pea gravel bought from Doves in Bishop Auckland.


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