Intensive field monitoring of a reach of upland gravel-bed river illustrates the temporal and spatial variability of in-channel sedimentation. Over the six-year monitoring period, the mean bed level in the channel has risen by 0·17 m with a maximum bed level rise of 0·5 m noted at one location over a five month winter period. These rapid levels of aggradation have a profound impact on the number and duration of overbank flows with flood frequency increasing on average 2·6 times and overbank flow time increasing by 12·8 hours. This work raises the profile of coarse sediment transfer in the design and operation of river management, specifically engineering schemes. It emphasizes the need for the implementation of strategic monitoring programmes before engineering work occurs to identify zones where aggradation is likely to be problematic. Exploration of the sediment supply and transfer system can explain patterns of channel sedimentation. The complex spatial, seasonal and annual variability in sediment supply and transfer raise uncertainties into the system's response to potential changes in climate and land-use. Thus, there is a demand for schemes that monitor coarse sediment transfer and channel response.