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May 29, 2010

As I write this it is raining outside. Rain is something we haven’t seen much of in recent months, but it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, so bound to rain!. Yesterday we went to Haweswater as we were wondering if the dry spell had revealed any of the sunken village of Mardale Green.

Looking down Haweswater.

Haweswater reservoir was built in the valley of Mardale and work started in 1929 to build a reservoir to supply water to the North of England.  It was origionally two small natural lakes called High Water and Low Water.


In order to build the reservoir the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green had to be flooded and the residents leave the valley. The last service at Holy Trinity church in the valley was on the 18th August 1935. The church was packed, and it is said more than a thousand people gathered on the surrounding hillside to hear the service via loud speakers fastened to the church tower.

Head of the valley

You can just see walls starting to appear to the left of this picture, but although quite low, there is a long way to go before the village appears from under the water.


This is the west end of Haweswater and the small carpark here is a popular starting point for many walks in the surrounding area. Harter Fell, High street, Kidsty Pike are all in the area. From here you can also walk to the RSPB Golden Eagle view point.

Golden Eagle Viewpoint

Riggendale at Haweswater is the only place in England where Golden Eagles nest.From the carpark it is about a mile and a half to the viewpoint and it is manned during the summer months.

Haweswater wildlife.

Rare fish can also be found in Haweswater. Schelly are like a sort of fresh water herring and shoals can be found in the lake. The name Haweswater comes from the old Norse, Hafs Vatn which translates into he-goats lake.

Island in Haweswater

Interestingly Haweswater is the lake that can be seen from the door of “Crow Crag” in the film “Withnail and I” although filming was done elsewhere. The premiere for the film was held at Zeffirellis cinema in Ambleside and I was there, little realising what a cult film it would end up being.


Haweswater is 4 miles long and 1/2 mile wide and when full it holds 18.6 billion gallons of water. Interestingly the dam at one end was the first hollow buttress dam in the world and stones from the dismantled village church were used to build it.

Old RAC sign Haweswater Hotel

Half way along the lake is the Haweswater Hotel. Built when the valley was being flooded it has some amazing examples of  1930’s art deco inside, especially in the main entrance hall. The Walkers bar is open to the public and there is nothing quite like sitting in this grand old hotel with a very reasonably priced mug of coffee and homemade shortbread biscuit looking out over the lake.

Le Mardale restaurant at Haweswater Hotel

I haven’t tried the hotel restaurant but have heard good reports about it. I only include this photo because I liked the way the sky was reflected in the sign.

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