Ennerdale Water

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Ennerdale Water
Ennerdale Water.jpg
Location Lake District, Cumbria
Coordinates 54°31′12″N 3°22′34″W / 54.52000°N 3.37611°W / 54.52000; -3.37611Coordinates: 54°31′12″N 3°22′34″W / 54.52000°N 3.37611°W / 54.52000; -3.37611
Type natural lake, reservoir
Primary inflows River Liza
Primary outflows River Ehen
Basin countries England
Max. length 4.17 km (2.59 mi)
Max. width 1.28 km (0.80 mi)
Surface area 3 km2 (1.2 sq mi)
Max. depth 45 m (148 ft)
Shore length1 10 km (6.2 mi)
Surface elevation 113 m (371 ft)
Islands 4
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
The valley from Green Gable
A map of Ennerdale Water from 1948

Ennerdale Water is the most westerly lake in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, England. It is a glacial lake, with a maximum depth of 150 feet (45 metres), and at ½ mile to a mile (700 to 1,500 metres) wide and 2½ miles (3.9 kilometres) long is one of the smallest lakes in the area. To the west of the lake lies the small village of Ennerdale Bridge, consisting of two pubs and a few houses. It is close to the port of Whitehaven, the town of Cleator Moor and the village of Cleator.


" 'Anund's valley'. The name Ennerdale seems originally to have derived from 'Anundar', gen.[itive] sing.[ular] of the ON pers.[onal] n.[ame] 'Anundr'/'Qnundr', and ON 'dalr' 'valley', but there has been cross-influence between this p.n. and 'Ehen', the name of the river which flows through the valley."[1] (ON is Old Norse.)

The lake has been referred to in guidebooks and maps variously as "Brodewater" (1576), "Brodwater" (1695), "Broad Water" (1760), "Ennerdale Water" (1784) and "Ennerdale Lake" in Otley's Guide (1823). It is now the Ordnance Survey convention to name it "Ennerdale Water".


The lake lies in the eponymous valley of Ennerdale, surrounded by some of the highest and best-known fells in Cumbria including: Great Gable (899 m), Green Gable, Brandreth, High Crag, Steeple and Pillar. Ennerdale Water is fed by the River Liza and other streams, and in turn feeds the River Ehen, which runs to the Irish Sea.

Water abstraction[edit]

Although the lake is natural, in 1902 a shallow weir was added to what is probably a glacial moraine to maintain the level.[2] The lake is owned by United Utilities, which abstracts water to serve customers in the Whitehaven area.[3]

United Utilities plans to stop using Ennerdale as a source of water by 2025, as the Environment Agency has confirmed that it will withdraw the abstraction licence to protect the environment of Ennerdale, its lake and the River Ehen.

Environmental protection measures[edit]

The lake and its valley have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[4]


Due to the remote location, the lack of a public road up the valley, and its management by the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and United Utilities, Ennerdale Water has not been as spoiled as other lakes in the National Park by construction, activity on the lake or the trappings of intensive tourism.

In 2003 the valley's three major landowners formed the Wild Ennerdale Partnership. Working with Natural England, the Government's advisor on the environment, the project has a vision "to allow the evolution of Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people, relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology".[5][6] The project managers have a commitment to maintaining the economic culture of the valley with small-scale forestry work and farming (low density cattle grazing is replacing sheep).

Wild Ennerdale celebrated its 10th anniversary in June 2013. In October of that year the project was represented at the World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain.


George Monbiot, who published a book on rewilding in 2013, has argued that Ennerdale is not very wild in comparison with projects in other countries.[7] He draws attention to the lack of predators in the valley to control the numbers of grazing animals such as deer. In this interpretation, rewilding implies the presence of carnivores to reduce herbivore pressure and enhance trophic diversity.

In March 2015, the Lynx UK Trust announced that Ennerdale was one of three locations in England and Scotland where it wanted to trial the reintroduction of wild Eurasian lynx.[8][9] By 2017 the Trust was proposing Kielder Forest as the preferred site for such a trial.


Despite being sited on Wainwright's coast-to-coast walk, the valley is not much visited by tourists.

Youth Hostels[edit]

Ennerdale has two youth hostels, one of which is Black Sail, described as England's loneliest youth hostel.[10] In 2008 the YHA announced that it would withdraw the warden from Black Sail youth hostel as the Forestry Commission would no longer maintain the access track as a result of the rewilding project.[11] However, after protests from members the YHA decided to retain the warden service, while at the same time seeking to reduce the hostel's ecological impact.[12]

Proposed nuclear waste facility[edit]

In June 2012, it became clear that Ennerdale (specifically the Ennerdale granite to the south of Ennerdale Water) had been identified as a potential site for a Geological Disposal Facility for the UK's high and intermediate level nuclear waste. Two other sites had also been identified - Eskdale and the Solway Plain. Ennerdale wasn't named by the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Partnership; rather it referred to the 'granitic rocks forming part of the Lake District Batholith'. These are the Ennerdale and Eskdale granites, formed around 450 million years ago in the Ordovician Period. This was stated in (publicly available) document 285 of the West Cumbria MRWS, a letter written by Dr Dearlove, the consultant geologist recruited by MRWS. Three smaller surface exposures of the batholith occur at Shap, Threlkeld and Skiddaw, but these are too small to be considered for the Geological Disposal Facility. In January 2013, Copeland and Allerdale Borough Councils voted to proceed to the next stage (4) of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process, but this was vetoed by Cumbria County Council. In September 2013, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced their proposed changes to the MRWS siting process. These included removal of the right of veto from county councils, and a diluted role for parish councils.

Notable facts[edit]

Though the Lake District is a popular UK location for film shoots, Ennerdale has been left relatively in the shadow, with only a few brief exceptions. The closing sequences of the film 28 Days Later (2002), directed by Danny Boyle, were filmed around the Ennerdale area, and include a sweeping, panoramic view of the lake.

In 1810 a large carnivore killed hundreds of sheep in and around Ennerdale before it was hunted down and killed. The locals dubbed it the Girt (dialect: "great") Dog of Ennerdale, though it was said to have had the traits of both a dog and a large cat.

Once a year, during the last week in August, the Ennerdale Show brings local people together with agricultural displays, competitions, arts and crafts.

Former US President Bill Clinton first proposed to his wife Hillary on the banks of Ennerdale Water in 1973.[13]


  1. ^ Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.109. ISBN 0904889726. 
  2. ^ "Ennerdale part of Lakestay.co.uk about the English Lake District". Lakestay.co.uk. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  3. ^ Robinson, Sarah (May 2013). "Plans made to stop using Ennerdale as water source". The Whitehaven News. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Ennerdale" (PDF). Natural England. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Ennerdale (England)". Forestry.gov.uk. 2016-10-22. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  6. ^ "Wild Ennerdale – Shaping the Landscape Naturally". Forestry.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  7. ^ The book is Feral: searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding (published by Allen Lane). Monbiot has also mentioned Ennerdale in his on-line journalism, for example: The Naturalists Who Are Terrified of Nature
  8. ^ Dickinson, Katie (March 2015). "Reintroduction scheme could see lynx roaming Lake District for first time in 1,300 years". Westmorland Gazette. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Should wild lynx be introduced to Ennerdale?. March 2015.
  10. ^ Brett, Suzanna (21 November 2012). "Two years at Black Sail". www.theguardian.com (The Guardian). London. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "HOT STORIES — Live for the Outdoors". Livefortheoutdoors.com. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  12. ^ "grough — Hot meals back on menu after Black Sail u-turn". Grough.co.uk. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  13. ^ Bernstein, Carl (27 May 2007). "The pain of being Hillary". The Times. London. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 

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