Haweswater Reservoir

After our little day adventure around Ullswater (read about it here), me and my beautiful wife just knew we had to make the most of the last Sunday of the year, especially as Helen is back at work tomorrow. Where to this time? How about a walk from Mardale Head, the small carpark at the top end of Haweswater? It was proper windy, with fog and mist hiding the fells, so my wife suggested a ten mile walk around the whole reservoir.

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Building of the Haweswater Reservoir was started in 1929, although the decision caused a public outcry because the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green would be flooded and the valley altered forever. The Haweswater Hotel was built to replace the pub in the village (the Dun Bull Inn), the stones from the church were used in the damn and the bodies from the churchyard were moved to Shap. The reservoir now supplies about 25% of the North West’s water.

The path around the reservoir is also part of the famous Lakeland 100 mile route, as can be seen in the photo below.

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We decided to go clockwise leaving the road section for when our legs and feet would be more tired. The path was good quality and our unruly Pointer was even allowed off the lead occasionally. She looks worried in the photo below, and I’m not trying to strangle her I promise.

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There were plenty of other people walking on the north side of the reservoir, even though the path undulated the whole way round. We stopped for a snack once we had reached the damn end of the reservoir, although the path takes you quite a bit further as it’s not possible to walk across the damn.

Onto the road and a cyclist with his dog passed us mentioning that there was a fox hunt in one of the villages. On the road we started to see plenty of farm type 4x4s, along with people looking through binoculars. Helen being braver than me asked what they were looking at. It turns out that there was a trail hound race on the fells. Hound trailing is a race between hounds along an artificially laid scent trail. The hounds follow a man-laid scent, the scent trail being usually laid by dragging a piece of fabric, slightly soaked with a combination of aniseed and paraffin, along the course.

Trail hounds over a year old race in adult races, whilst those under 1 year of age race in puppy races. Adult races are approximately 10 miles (16 km) long and the hounds in the adult races typically take 30 minutes to finish. When racing, the hounds’ coats are closely shaved to prevent them from overheating during the race. Unlike in other forms of hunting, humans do not follow the hounds, instead the hounds conduct the course unassisted and spectators can observe parts of the race from vantage points through binoculars. Trail hounds are similar to fox hounds, but have been bred for strength, stamina and speed with other breeds mixed in, including Pointer.

Unfortunately we never got to see any of the hounds as we were too far away, but hopefully we’ll hunt out a race next summer. We’re both pretty sure that Nelly would have excelled in this sport when she was younger.

The road back to the carpark by this point felt never ending, so all three of us fell into the car, exhausted. It was a tough little walk, just over ten miles, but with a surprising amount of climbing. Another great day out with my beautiful wife Helen and our silly Pointer Nelly.

4 thoughts on “Haweswater Reservoir

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