Cumbrian Reservoir to Return to Nature

A small Lake District tarn is to be restored to its natural state after more than 100 years as a dammed reservoir.

Thornthwaite Crag at Sunset, 107 kb
Thornthwaite Crag at Sunset
© Neil Higgins, Feb 2007

A secluded tarn tucked away above the village of Hartsop in a horseshoe of hills including Rest Dodd, Rampsgill Head, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag, Hayeswater was dammed in 1908 to provide drinking water to communities in the Patterdale area.

But it was declared surplus to requirements in 2005 when bigger and better sources of water became available. Now engineers from water company United Utilities plan to give it back to nature, in a £700,000 project that could start as early as next year. The two metre high stone and concrete weir dam would be removed, leading to a reduction in the size of the lake.

Paul Phillips, the company’s Cumbria catchment manager, said restoring Hayeswater to its natural state was the right thing to do:

"Hayeswater [...] is a very small reservoir in water supply terms and very remote and difficult to get to. In 2005 a new pipeline was built giving people access to much better quality and more reliable water from our huge Haweswater reservoir just over the fell.

“We have successfully retired reservoirs before, with superb results, and we think that’s the best option for Hayeswater too. Removing the weir will allow ecological processes, like eel migration, to happen naturally again. The restored tarn will be about two metres lower than the reservoir is now and about three quarters of the overall size.

“The best views will be from the top of the High Street ridge. When we’ve finished walkers and climbers will look down on a view that hasn’t been seen since 1908."

An exhibition is being held at Glenridding Public Hall today between 12pm and 7pm, when engineers will be on hand to share plans, show drawings, and answer questions. Just drop in, says the company.

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