Saturday, 14 March 2009


Today we went for a walk at Stithians Reservoir. We had thought to go for a walk with S and Little Dog but S was pretty ill. After we dropped him back we went for a walk and it was pretty late in the day.

Stithians Reservoir is blocked by a dam 41.5 metres high and 244 metres long. It holds back 5205 million litres of water spread over 270 acres (1.1 square km). The dam was built in 1964 in a small steep sided valley nestled in the granite hills near Redruth and Camborne. The village of Four Lanes is nearby and on rainfall maps it has a little circle round it that shows it really does rain far, far more there than it does a mile down the hill.

Cornwall is a pretty wet place and these hills get far more than their fair share of rain and most of the rain that falls on the hills in this area and then ends up in the Lake. The dam blocked the course of the River Kennal which might look small and insignificant but it' small size is no indication of it's power. The water flows fast and during it's short course it powered flour mills, a foundry, a paper mill and several gunpowder mills at the height of water powered industry. Over it's five and a half mile course it powered 39 water wheels and it is unlikely any other river powered as many of such a short distance.

Water from the dam is regulated now and South West Water has to ensure that a minimum flow of 0.0316 cubic metres per second. In times of drought this flow has sometimes been halved with government agreement. So what happens to the rest of the water that would have flown along the river? The people of much of West Cornwall drink it.

Apart from that the lake is a home for water sports, fishers and bird watchers. It is supposed to be the windiest lake in England so it is perfect for sailing and windsurfing. The fishing is mostly trout I think. The birds are varied and it is supposed to be the best inland spot in Cornwall for birdwatchers.

It seems to me that people so often focus on the sea in Cornwall that so often the lovelyinland places are forgotten. We saw only four cars in the car park tonight even though it was a beautiful evening. Finding information on the reservoir on the internet has proven very difficult. I am sure that there has to be something about the land it drowned. I believe there is a village under there and that sometimes you can see buildings...

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