Haweswater – Westmorland’s Manchester Reservoir

To give this item the title that I have is maybe a little ugly sounding, but it’s done deliberately to highlight the sad fact that Haweswater is not what it was. In some respects it is more than before, at four to five miles in length rather than two and a half; and almost a hundred feet deeper. But this is not the lake that prior to what Wainwright called “The Rape of Mardale” was renowned (at least among those in the know) as a place of remote but ravishing beauty.

Having said all that Haweswater still has its splendour, as is shown by the autumnal photograph above, but see how the Mardale valley used to be, albeit in black and white. The old Dun Bull Inn is at the left of the picture, the church and houses on the right.

Mardale Before The Haweswater Flood

Mardale Green and Mardale Head – Photo copied from “A Backwater in Lakeland”, Isaac Hinchcliffe, 1927
Apologies if I’m wrong but I’m pretty certain this photo by Abrahams, Keswick, is out of copyright.

Maybe I’m just being sentimental, but an expanded reservoir (even to supply Manchester where I had offices for fifteen years from 1976-91 and no doubt drank the Haweswater water) doesn’t do the same for me. I do have a personal reason for this. Back in the 1860s my great-great-uncle, elder brother of my mother’s paternal grandfather, lived in the valley with his young family and farmed Flake How, close by the vicarage before later moving over the hill to a larger farm in Swindale. Anyway, sentimentality or not, I would greatly prefer to see a smaller lake. Here is one view painted by Alfred Heaton Cooper.

Haweswater, by A. Heaton Cooper

The viewpoint for this is close to the foot of the lake and the delta which almost cut it in half is clearly seen on the right.

And on now to the Lake of the Poets: Grasmere

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