Haweswater Reservoir Mardale
Haweswater is a reservoir built within the valley of Mardale. The controversial construction of the Haweswater dam was started in 1929, after parliament passed an act giving Manchester Corporation permission to build the reservoir to supply water for the urban conurbations of North West England.
Prior to the flooding of the Mardale valley Haweswater was a natural lake, with the valley considered one of the most picturesque in Westmorland and many thought it should be left alone.
Originally before the construction of the dam Haweswater was about four kilometres long and almost divided in two by a tongue of land at Measand, with the two reaches of the lake being known as High Water and Low Water. This is now long gone with the building of the dam raising the water level by 29 metres (95 feet) and created a reservoir six kilometres (four miles) long and around 600 metres (almost half a mile) wide.
The Haweswater dam was the first hollow buttress design in the world and considered to be cutting edge technology at the time of construction and with the reservoir full it holds 84 billion litres (18.6 billion gallons) of water. The reservoir is now owned by United Utilities plc.
With the construction of the dam the valley of Mardale was flooded in 1935 with all the residents of the villages of Mardale Green and Measand relocating.
With the construction of the reservoir and dam came a new road along the eastern side of the lake to replace the flooded road lower in the valley. The road continues the length of the lake to the western end of Haweswater and terminates with a small car park. The car park is currently free and a popular starting point for walkers who wish to climb the local fells of Harter Fell walk, Branstree and the ever popular High Street walk.
The Haweswater valley is the only place in England where golden eagles nest. There is a RSPB observation post in the valley of Riggindale, where the pair has their eyrie, although I have not sighted any eagles on my walks within this location as of writing. It is rumoured locally that the eagles are now gone and how true this is I do not know. Should you be out walking in this location and happen to spot a golden eagle please make a comment below.
Haweswater, Walking and Alfred Wainwright
The world famous Alfred Wainwright had this to say on the construction of the Haweswater dam in his Pictorial guide to the Eastern Lakeland Fells;
“If we can accept as absolutely necessary the conversion of Haweswater [to reservoir], then it must be conceded that Manchester have done the job as unobtrusively as possible. Mardale is still a noble valley. But man works with such clumsy hands! Gone for ever are the quit wooded bays and shingly shores that nature had fashioned so sweetly in the Haweswater of old; how aggressively ugly is the tidemark of the new Haweswater”.
For me walking the local area of Haweswater today is a very refreshing change as fewer tourists seem to be attracted to this mini oasis of Lakeland serenity. There are no shops or tea rooms should the inevitable Lakeland heavens open with fresh clean water to downpour upon us, simply to wash away the mundane of life. Here is a place where solitude personifies and you can really hear your thoughts. For some untold reason you are happy to get wet here and unlike other walks and variations of routes a walk to the summit of High Street via Kidsty Pike holds a special thought for me.
Whilst considering the words of Alfred Wainwright and the clumsy hands of man it appears that this meeting head on of man and his needs, whilst contrasting the natural beauty of the Lake District has created an environment which the golden eagles have considered beyond all others within all England, should it be the preferred home of the eagle then I too consider it home.
My Haweswater On Film
Haweswater is a special peaceful lake and very different to all the Lakeland lakes and maybe it is at this point I advise the reader to visit Windermere?
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