In View ADAM LEATHES & THIRLMERE with Stan Leigh

In 1577, Adam Leathes bought a building that stood in a great location, near to two tarns, Leathes Water and Wythburn Water separated by a causeway and Wath Bridge. It was a located south of Great How, with High Rigg and Blencathra further to the north, Helvellyn to the east and Raven Crag to the west. The water in the tarns drained to the north via St. John’s Beck.

the building has been tastefully restored and has become an attractive hotel with lots of historical interest.

Currently, United Utilities have various ongoing projects that prevent access to the dam and the road that runs along the east side of Thirlmere. Furthermore, some of the footpaths are temporarily closed for safety reasons. United Utilities are working hard to complete this work as soon as possible. So, where to walk?

Great How and Blencathra Dale Head Hall

The building was Dale Head Hall and Adam and his wife lived there, followed by successive generations through to 1877. In that year, on the death of Thomas Stranger-Leathes, the then Lord of the Manor of Legburthwaite and Wythburn, the entire estate consisting of the building, the valley and large parts of the fells on either side were to be sold. The purchaser was Manchester Corporation.

Thirlmere Dam and Raven Crag

Routes to Helvellyn are good and United Utilities have disabled their parking meters for the time being. However, this month, I’m going to recommend a 5.3 miles route with 1250 feet of ascent, from the Legburthwaite Car Park near Stanah [grid reference NY318194].

Dale Head Hall Reflections

From the1860s, Manchester Corporation developed schemes to augment their water supplies, by creating reservoirs in Lakeland. It took until 1879 before Royal Ascent was given to the Thirlmere Reservoir Scheme that included a dam to the west of Great How and a 96-mile aqueduct /pipeline south to Manchester. In 1894, the first water started to flow towards Manchester and now supplies approximately 50 million gallons per day.

In the meantime, Dale Head Hall was transformed into the summer residence for the Lord Mayor of Manchester until 1985. In June 1990, the Hall/Hotel transferred into private ownership and over the years


Great How and Thirlmere From Legburthwaite Car Park, head west to reach A591 and turn left along the roadside for approximately 150 yards. Then carefully cross the road to a forest track that heads south parallel to the road, then curves and climbs around Great How until you reach another path that ascends to the Summit [1100ft]. The views are excellent and well worth including in the walk. Enjoy the views of the reservoir, dam, Raven Crag, Steel Fell to the south and the routes up Helvellyn.

Afterwards, return to the main track to head south towards the reservoir. There are faint paths down to the water’s edge in a few places. Break your journey for a view of the shoreline to see if the reservoir has fully recovered from the dry spell in the summer. Return to the track and carry on to Dale Head Hall. It comes as a pleasant surprise – there are very few buildings to be seen on the route. I enjoyed chatting to Maria, the General Manager and Amity, the Marketing Manager, regarding the history of the hotel and the recent devastating storm damage in the woodland. There is plenty to see and enjoy before descending towards the reservoir and curving round to the left to see and hear the thunderous sound of Helvellyn Gill as it descends the waterfalls.

A surprise ahead – a tunnel under A591 to reach Swirls Car Park with picnic benches, toilets and an opportunity to enjoy views of Blencathra and Skiddaw to the north. Much flood damage repair work went on here after recent flooding events.

After a break, cross the bridge over Helvellyn Gill and follow it upstream to reach a signposted path to Stanah and Sticks Pass. Take this path along the scenic route below Brown How. The path follows the wall nearly all the way to Stanah, passing Thirlspot, Fisher Gill and Stanah Gill. The path soon descends to Stanah and past ‘The Lodge in the Vale’ back to the car park at Legburthwaite. The views north on this return section from Swirls are outstanding. I think it fair to say that Adam Leathes and his family played their part in starting the Thirlmere Reservoir ball rolling. Enjoy this walk, which gives you the opportunity to experience a little of the local history and enjoy great views.

Great How and Thirlmere

Use OS Explorer Maps OL5 [The English Lakes, North Eastern Area] and have a look at this website for route assistance and additional photographs. thirlmere/

Explore and discover! Stan

ISSUE 430 | 18 OCTOBER 2018 | 17

Thirlmere Dam from Raven Crag

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