On the western edge of the Lake District National Park, Ennerdale runs east to west from the high central fells to the rolling hills and moorland of West Cumbria and the Irish Sea coastal plain. Perhaps key to the very special feel of the place is the fact that it’s the only major Lake District valley to have no public road along it. Ennerdale Water, quiet and solitary, is one of the least developed of the English lakes. The water of the lake is extremely pure, and has been used as a source of drinking water for around 150 years.
In the 1920s, the Forestry Commission purchased Ennerdale and created a blanket of commercial conifer forest. This had an effect on the tradition of farming Herdwick sheep. Up until then, Ennerdale held a vital place in the Herdwick story, but 2,000 sheep had to be removed from Gillerthwaite and Ennerdale Dale when the valley was forested. However, there are still 16 farms with fell-grazing livestock in the wider Ennerdale valley.
Originally known as Broadwater, Ennerdale measures two and a half miles long, three quarters of a mile wide and 45 metres (150 feet) deep. Ennerdale’s western end is mountainous and panoramic and is dominated by the rocky bulk of Pillar (892 metres), Haycock (797m), Steeple ( 819m) and Great Scoat Fell (802m). Its eastern end is set in a flatter landscape which looks out over the West Cumbrian plain towards Whitehaven and Workington.
A ten minute walk away from my home is the tranquil Longlands Lake – the lake was previously known as Brokenlands. The wildlife sanctuary has a variety of habitats, which include: broadleaf woodland, unimproved grassland and aquatic vegetation. The lake is important for its bird population and breeding species include mute swan, coot, moorhen, goosander, tufted duck and mallard.
A circular walk around the former mining site provides safe and enjoyable access all year round for walkers, wheelchair users and those with pushchairs and young children. The surface material is finely crushed local quarry stone which provides a hardwearing, compact surface.
Longlands Lake is on the site of the former Longlands iron ore mine, which first produced ore from four pits between 1879 and 1904. After the mine was abandoned in 1924 the galleries flooded, the ground sank, and became flooded, making the lake. You can still see some of the foundations of the old iron-ore buildings scattered around the lake to this day.
There is a parking area near the lake, picnic areas, a path which goes round the lake, and a seperate path which goes to the remains of the old forge, then on to Dent Fell.
The lake is managed by Wath Brow and Ennerdale Angling Association who stock the lake regularly with rainbow trout. A wheelchair accessible platform has been constructed while elsewhere around the lake a number casting platforms have been built.