Drowned Hamlet of Mardale Revealed Again

Figures released by the Met Office now confirm that September 2014 has been the driest since records began back in 1910. With the Lake District reliant upon rainfall to replenish the streams and lakes, it has left many at their lowest levels for many years. Many of the smaller streams and Lakeland waterfalls dry-up completely, however the consequences can be revealing. 


Haweswater Dam

One of the more interesting consequences of this is the exposure of the ruins of the drowned hamlet of Mardale and the old stone walls that identify the lane that ran along the western shores of Haweswater.

Map of the Old Haweswater Lake before the Dam 
The Original Haweswater Lake, western shore road, hamlet and Dun Bull Inn.

Mardale and the Dun Bull Hotel

Before the present reservoir was constructed, a road ran along the western side of the lake leading to the hamlet at Mardale Head and the Dun Bull Inn. The hamlet, inn and surrounding farmsteads formed an isolated, yet tightly knit community.

Looking Down on Mardale Head
Looking down on the ruined farmsteads at Mardale Head

On Chapel Hill, just before the hamlet, was as 17th century church, the Holy Trinity Church. To the south of the hamlet was the historic Dun Bull Inn, later referred to as the Dun Bull Hotel. Old, original photographs of the Dun Bull can be viewed at http://www.mardale.green.talktalk.net .

Mardale Head ruins and submerged walls
Amongst the rubble of the ruined farmsteads at Mardale Head

Before the valley was flooded, the hamlet, Dun Bull Inn and surrounding farmsteads were destroyed by the army, leaving rubble where once a community thrived.

The Old Western Shore Road As It Approaches The Dun Bull
Looking towards the old western shore track bounded by stone walls as it approaches the site of the Dun Bull Inn.

Haweswater Reservoir

Originally a lake, Haweswater was acquired by Manchester Corporation Waterworks (1) through the 1919 Haweswater Act which gave provision for a water supply for the inhabitants of Manchester. Work began in the summer of 1929 but work halted in 1931 for four years due to a lack of funds during the great depression. Work re-started in 1935 and the construction work was completed in 1940. The valley was then flooded and the first water arrived in Manchester in 1941. The level of the reservoir had been raised to 29 metres and now covered an area three times its original area. The Dun Bull Hotel was replaced by the Haweswater Hotel built on a new road that runs along the eastern side of the reservoir - the road along the western flank now being submerged. The valley around the lake was dotted with sheep farms and these too were lost to the rising water of the reservoir.

Drought and the Re-emergence of Mardale

At various times throughout the last century the water level has been so low that the remains and outlines of building and walled tracks can be seen. These occasions attract a geat number of visitors. Most notable being the villageís re-emergence in 1984 when police were required to control the stream of traffic taking visitors to see the ghost village of Mardale Green.

Panorama of Mardale Head Ruins
Panorama of the ruined hamlet at Mardale Head


1. Haweswater Reservoir is now managed by United Utilities - http://www.unitedutilities.com/documents/haweswater-reservoir-walks.pdf

David Burton © 2014 First Published: 2 October 2014