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Haweswater, on the east of the Lake District, is a little like Wastwater and Ennerdale Water on the west. Apart from the more energetic routes of walkers over the mountains it is usually approached by road from outside the Lake District.

A Heaton Cooper - Haweswater
by A. Heaton Cooper,c.1905

From Lake to Reservoir

At one time it was considered by many to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the region. That changed in the 1930s when industrial Manchester's thirst for water led to the Haweswater reservoir scheme. A dam was constructed, and the village of Mardale vanished into the depths. Certainly city populations need to be supplied with water, and without industry the economic wellbeing of us all would suffer unimaginably, but for a long time there will continue to be a debate as to whether it should have been done in this way.

It is done, however, and now Haweswater is much less visited than in early days although some years ago in a period of drought the water level dropped and people flocked to see the remains of the old village. I did so myself, and would gladly upload scans of my photographs here - except that I clicked away enthusiastically on my old 35mm film camera only to discover later that it had no film in it! (That's one advantage of digital).


Many a Lake District writer has told of the old "kings of Mardale", the annual shepherds' meet and the Dun Bull inn. Now there's little human activity, but birds of prey are to be seen in this area, and above Haweswater is the only Golden Eagle nesting site in England. Several years ago the last female died and now there's just one adult male, a great bird with a wing span of around six feet, but currently without a mate. He seems to stay around because the hunting is good here. The RSPB have a hide in place from Spring to Autumn.

There's good walking in these hills. If you have the energy, and are well prepared for changes of weather, the path over to Kentmere opens up to view some glorious scenery, or you could go directly south and on the way down into Longsleddale investigate the old slate quarries.

Haweswater may not be what it once was, the view painted by Alfred Heaton Cooper (above) no longer exists, and when the water level drops the tide mark of the reservoir is not a pleasant sight, but the mountain scenery is still impressive and the walking as strenuous and satisfying as ever.



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