Greenburn Hydro Project

A view down the Greenburn valley looking south east

Industrial heritage

From Stone Age axe factory to Victorian gunpowder works, the Langdale valleys have a rich industrial heritage, energised by water power as far back as the 15th century. The Greenburn valley is no exception. As a former copper mine, many features associated with its legacy are still in evidence and of much interest today. The remains of water sluices, leat systems and a waterwheel pit remain visible and the site is now a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM). 

Green future

This summer we are starting work on a significant hydropower project nestled in the heart of this valley. When complete it will provide a robust renewable energy solution in a landscape where few other opportunities exist to bring in a guaranteed income 'stream' to support our future conservation work in Little Langdale.

Watch this space

Keep checking back below for regular updates from the project team on how the work is progressing and more about the unique history of this valley. We're looking forward to sharing this exciting project with you as each stage unfolds.

Latest posts

08 Oct 18

The valley in times gone by

Our General Manager John found this old photo of the Greenburn valley in The Lakeland Pictorial from 1956, published by the Ramblers’ Association. It's almost in the perfect position; it had been taken slightly further to the right you’d be able to see Greenburn beck, just downstream from where the coanda screen sits today.

View down Greenburn valley towards Little Langdale tarn

26 Sep 18

Heritage Open Day success

For Heritage Open Day, 20 people braved the unpredictable autumnal weather for a guided walk of Little Langdale and the Greenburn mines. Leading the walk was Jamie Lund, Archaeologist for the National Trust; John Millen, Senior Project Manager for the Greenburn hydro project and two members from our South Lakes Ranger Team, Stuart Graham and Jonathan Heap. The walk and talk focused on the history and heritage of the Greenburn mines and the new Greenburn hydro project which is being built adjacent to the mines. The story of the old and new industrial uses of the river was well received and a good walk had by all.

Walkers enjoying a guided walk of Little Langdale and the Greenburn mines

20 Sep 18

Little Langdale and the linen industry

On the farmland where the hydro scheme exists, archaeological remnants of a small scale linen industry can be found. Retting ponds were used to remove the outer husk of the flax plant to expose the useful textile fibres within. The husks were left to soak in stagnant water (hence the name ‘retting’, a corruption of ‘rotting’) and stripped so that the flax could be raked out onto banks and dried, and the useful inner fibres retrieved. The exact age of the retting ponds close to the farm is not known, but linen and woollen-cloth manufacture would have been carried out on almost every farm in the Lake District. Although Kendal, and to a lesser extent Hawkshead, evolved into important centres of the woollen industry during the medieval period, the manufacture of cloth was largely carried out in the valleys, so it is possible that the retting beds recorded in Little Langdale might have Medieval or early Post Medieval origins.

Archeological remnants of retting ponds at Fell Foot Farm