Thirlmere was origionally two small lakes ‘Brackmere’ and ‘Leatheswater’ although these two names changed continually over the centuries. The two lakes were seperated only by a stream over which was a wooden footbridge thought to have been of Celtic origin. There was also two small nearby villages called ‘Wythborn’ and ‘Amboth’. In eighteen seventy nine the lakes and the surrounding area were bought by The Manchester Corporation water works and a two part dam was erected at the northern end and the water level raised by fifty four feet. Unfortunately the villages of both Wythburn and Amboth had to be demolished as the valley was flooded but there remains a local ghost story in that one of the destroyed houses was haunted where in the 1700’s a bride was drowned the night before her wedding day and bells have since been heard to ring, lights seen and a ghost dog seen swimming in the water. All that remains of this small settlement today is Wythburn Church, built in sixteen hundred and forty and restored in eighteen hundred and seventy two. The church is still in use. Wordsworth, Mathew Arnold and Coleridges son all visited this tiny church and wrote of it in their works.
Today Thirlmere and the surrounding forest is owned and managed by United Utilities who are replacing many of the firs planted earlier in the century by native deciduous trees. They are also in the process at Thirlmere of providing the first Red Squirrel sanctuary and observation hide in the Lake District.
The Lake or Reservoir is nearly four miles long, almost half a mile wide at its widest point and with a maximum depth of one hundred and thirty feet. This depth is of course seasonal and depends both on supply and take off.
There are several car parking places on the western side of the lake and a small and quiet road along the western shore line with several good picnic spots.
No boats with engines are allowed on the lake unless you are a registered Windermere, Ambleside and District angling Association member and even then only electric powered outboard engines are permitted. Canoeing, Sail -Boarding, Dhingy Sailing and kayaking is allowed. At this time there is no charge for fishing the lake although environmental permits are required and no dead bait, maggots or bubble floats are allowed fishing should be by Fly, Worm or Lure. Lake specie’s include Trout, Char, Perch and Pike.
Red Deer and Roe deer can be seen in the lake side forests and there are several footpaths into the surrounding fells which include Helvellyn, Raven Crag, Armbroth Crag and others.
The lake is seasonal home to a variety of water fowl including Great Crested Grebe, Mute swan, Red Breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and others whilst the forest abounds with bird life of all kinds.