Kendal and the Lakes: Pt 2 – Journey to Grasmere via Thirlmere

On the way from Keswick to Grasmere, we saw some incredible scenery, as well as another famous Lake. Our first view came just outside Keswick…

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Travelling down the A591 in the direction of Grasmere and Windermere, we just had to stop at the top of a small rise to gaze out across the above scene. The top of the hills were shrouded in cloud, giving a real sense of mystery, and the feeling that you are enclosed in a maze of mountains and hills, and anything, hopefully amazing, could be around the corner.

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We kept moving, and came ever closer to the towering hills, almost being swallowed up. The clouds were descending ever lower, and the threat of rain loomed over us. It’s amazing how much the weather can change around here, as we are quite high up and we had gone from rain to just cloud and back again a few times so far on our trip.

Old stone walls marked the boundaries between the lush green fields, and the odd solitary tree clung to the side of the hills, defiant in the face of both gravity and the weather. It’s a strange place the Lakes, as it’s completely different from anywhere else, and this difference is especially noticeable if you have been using the motorway earlier in the day before heading into the National Park, as you enter the unique eco-system.

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I mentioned before that you never what you might discover in the Lake District, and whilst I am familiar with the layout of the Lakes, I had forgotten that another grand feature, Thirlmere, lay between us and our next port of call, Grasmere. Thirlmere, whilst having the appearance of a Lake, is actually a reservoir, created in the 19th century to provide water for the city of Manchester, which gets water from the 96 miles Thirlmere Aqueduct, still to this day.

The Aqueduct took 35 years to build fully, from 1890 to 1925, and takes water right into the heart of the City. The Reservoir is closed off by a Dam at the North end (marked by a plaque) with the Aqueduct running from the Southern end. This vast body of water stretches for 3.8 miles, and although it’s not an actual Lake it is just as famous as the other great Lakes, Windermere, Derwent Water etc and adds to the incredible scenery in the area.

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As we passed around the outside of the Reservoir, we spotted a notable feature, the Straining Well and Valve House. Manchester received it’s first water in 1894, propelled by gravity all the way to the City.

The Straining Well once delivered the water from the South end of the Reservoir, through a tunnel and onto the Aqueduct. It has since been superseded by a more modern version, and the old one is open to the public for tours.

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Before the Reservoir was created, two small Lakes inhabited the valley, called Leathes Water and Wythburn Water. When the dam was created between 1890 and 1894, the water level began to rise and swamped the two Lakes, with a 40 feet deep Reservoir now ready to use.

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We moved on from the Lake, on through the countryside, past some quaint old houses nestled in the shelter of the hills, tucked away from civilisation, with only the view and local wildlife for company. What a great place to live, in the heart of England’s most beautiful landscape.

We soon approached Grasmere, ready for the next stage of our journey…

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