Waste water? Lakeland park finds a sweet-smelling solution

Thousands of litres of waster water each day are made clean and safe by the irises says Henry Wild (pictured)

THE FAMILY owners of a Lake District holiday park are claiming success in their bid to prove that flower power can help to keep Cumbria’s rivers clean.

Skelwith Fold caravan park in Ambleside is now treating up to 40,000 litres of waste water every day using specially cultivated beds of sweet-scented iris plants.

The blooms, says park director Henry Wild, do the job of an industrial sewerage treatment plant – but use natural processes in place of chemicals to make the water safe.

Now Henry is offering to share his experience with other holiday park owners who want to discover an eco-friendly way of tackling an age-old waste water problem:

“With sometimes almost two thousand people on the park each night, we are obviously asking a lot of our iris plants, but they rise wonderfully to the challenge!” he said.

Guests have different staying options at the park, including safari tents

“They transfer oxygen down to their roots, and this encourages the microbes which clean the water and make it perfectly safe – and even beneficial – to release into the soil.

“We have experimented with other water cleansing plants, and reeds also work well – but irises seem to have the edge when it comes to reducing ammonia, so we now use a combination of the two.

“The iris is a wetland plant, so they love the conditions and also produce a floral display which adds a fantastic splash of colour to the forest glade where the bed grows.

“Our tests on the treated water show this to be the case, and the thriving plants tell their own story about the healthiness of the ecosystem we’ve created,”” added Henry.

Henry is keen to share his experience with other holiday parks, many of which – like Skelwith Fold – are located in more remote rural areas and must deal with waste water on site.

The park is a long-time holder of the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level, thanks to the raft of different environmental initiatives it undertakes.

Many of these offer benefits to wildlife – and, says Henry, the iris plants also have a role to play by providing vital foraging for honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Skelwith Fold, he reports, is now experiencing one of the busiest summers in his family’s 20-years of ownership, with many guests preferring a greener UK stay to flying abroad.

The park provides luxury glamping pods, safari tents, holiday homes to own, and touring pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes. There is more information at www.skelwith.com