Discover Brightwater

Discover Brightwater is a programme of events, projects and activities over the next couple of years to restore, reveal and celebrate life around the River Skerne. This area, in the historic south County Durham, stretches north from Darlington and includes the towns and villages of Newton Aycliffe, Sedgefield, Bishop Middleham, Fishburn and the Trimdons up to Hurworth Burn reservoir. 

Contact Us 1

Here at Discover Brightwater, our team of highly motivated and slightly overqualified experts all look good in wellies. 

This is important as our work focusses on improving the natural and cultural environment and heritage. 

We revel in working with and within communities to discover and reveal the history of the area, improve existing environments and create new nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife and land users.

The National LOttery
Heritage fund

Discover Brightwater is a £3.3 million Landscape Partnership Programme supported by all you national lottery players via the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

So every time you play the lottery or have a flutter on the scratch cards part of the money comes to support projects like this. To date about £7.6 billion has been spent on improving landscapes and heritage in programmes like ours.

To work with us or to find out more about our partners click here



The project


Any visitor to the restored parts of the Skerne can see at a glance that this poetic Viking name is entirely appropriate as it captures the unique quality of light of our area.  It’s our ambition – to restore, reveal and celebrate that ‘bright and clear’ Bright Water Landscape. Working along the River Skerne in South West Country Durham and Darlington, in North East England. We have been tasked with delivering over 19 individual project work-streams and over 40 separate activities by summer 2022.

The river skerne

Much has been done to raise the water quality through a range of activities along the river. Did you know that trout, otters and water voles are all returning to the Skerne?!

History & Heritage

For those of us who like history, mystery and hands that get blistery, come and join us on a historical adventure…

Access and Environment Improvements

There’s lots of projects to get involved with, from litter picking, fixing the Skerne and clearing out Fishburn Woods. If you would rather not get your hands dirty download our free walking guides instead!

Community Projects

It’s not just about our fabulous landscape. It’s also about our people, without you this project wouldn’t be possible.

With the help of our community, we’ve already written a book and designed a sculpture trail in Hardwick Park!


Sightings of otters in the water at Darlington and further up at Brafferton are promising signs that our improved wetland and the cleaner river is already having a positive impact on our environment.

volunteer opportunities

Those nice people who play the lottery have provided us with millions of pounds to improve our area, our skills and our communities

Be part of something pretty amazing. Click below to discover how you can get involved…