High Snab dam repairs

Ranger winches boulder into place, High Snab dam, Lake District

Some of the conservation work we do in the outdoors is extremely demanding, but often it's the hardest jobs that are the most satisfying.

Historic dam in need of repair

High Snab dam was constructed between 1569 and 1573 by the miners of the Company of Mines Royal, supplying water via a 1,200 yard leat to the mine workings at Goldscope. The water drove a 22ft wheel inside the mine workings (one of the first of its kind in the country) and this helped to drain the mine and bring up ore from the lower depths.

Not just for history's sake

These days the reservoir supplies water to High Snab farm and Low High Snab and the line of the historic leat is still clear in the landscape and can be walked.

Can we fix it?

The reservoir has a double overflow system designed to dissipate water so that the flow does not damage the base of the dam. During recent high water events one of these channels suffered quite a substantial washout.

Damage to High Snab reservoir overflow
High Snab dam damaged by extreme rainfall, Borrowdale, Lake District
Damage to High Snab reservoir overflow

Yes we can

It was our job to fix it. We had to combine skill, strength and ingenuity to winch and hand-bar all the large boulders into position to re-construct the retaining wall.

Retaining wall reconstructed and raring to go!
Work to repair dam nearing completion at High Snab, Lake District
Retaining wall reconstructed and raring to go!
" This was an unusual piece of conservation work carried out by the Ranger team - a herculean team effort! "
- Tom Burditt, North Lakes general manager
Overflow system overflowing normally again!
Dam flowing again after repairs, High Snab, Borrowdale
Overflow system overflowing normally again!

The whole team - Ian, Andy, Paul, Jack, Dan and not forgetting volunteer Robert - worked together with traditional skills and good old fashioned hard graft and this is one job we're very proud of.