The Lesser Teise splits from the main river – the Teise – about two miles upstream from here. It is roughly 7 miles in length and flows into the Beult at Hunton. Water from both ‘arms’ of the river eventually flows into the Medway at Yalding.

The Beult at Hunton, however, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and so is particularly sensitive to the quality of water flowing from the Lesser Teise. Years of run-off from arable farmland has resulted in pollution from pesticides and chemical fertilisers, now exacerbated by overflowing sewers from poorly planned housing development. The silt from regular flooding in Marden and the surrounding area is also carried downstream and deposited in the SSSI. These factors have contributed to significant damage to the quality of the water and the plants and animals it supports.

Landowners are working with Natural England and utilising the Countryside Stewardship scheme to reduce agri-chemical run-off into the water and create wildlife habitat along the river corridors.

Much of the land along its length therefore, like the grassland on one side here, has restrictions or a total ban on chemical use. As well as improving water quality, it increases wildflower growth and their accompanying insects. In turn, these provide vital foraging areas for birds and mammals. For the technically-minded, a detailed current evaluation of progress by the Environment Agency can be seen here.

Flood water storage is also being created by allowing some riverside fields to revert to flood meadows, and by the creation of ‘wetland’ areas where excess water is contained in a man-made lake. The silt washed from arable fields can be deposited in these before the water eventually flows back out into the river. These areas both become hugely valuable for wildlife.

The result is a ‘wilder’ landscape, where food production can be managed with less environmental damage and the wildlife enjoyed by local people for significant physical and mental health benefits.