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Haweswater - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by HelenB
Looking north along Haweswater from the path to the Golden Eagle Viewpoint, May 2009

England, Cumbria


Photo © by HelenB
The small carpark, at the end of Haweswater, can get very full in the summer months!

Haweswater is a reservoir for Manchester and is located in the south-eastern part of the English Lake District.

For about 40 years, a breeding pair of Golden Eagles were resident in the area, choosing Riggindale Valley at the southern end of Haweswater, to build their eyries. The RSPB have maintained a reserve to protect the only area where Golden Eagles have bred in England since 1969, but the last Golden Eagle perished during Storm Desmond in December 2015. RSPB staff are still manning the viewpoint, on weekends and Bank Holidays, from the beginning of April to the end of August.


Notable Species

Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Common Buzzard, Northern Wheatear, European Stonechat, Common Redstart, Ring Ouzel and White-throated Dipper.


Photo © by Farnboro John
The lone male Golden Eagle photographed in Riggindale in May 2013. Click on image for a larger version

White-tailed Eagle, Osprey, Eurasian Dotterel (on fells)


Photo © by HelenB
View of the southern part Haweswater from the Eagle Viewpoint in Riggindale Valley, September 2003

Birds you can see here include:

Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Coot, Common Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Common Sandpiper, Eurasian Curlew, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Common Wood Pigeon, Common Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Common Swift, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White-throated Dipper, Eurasian Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Common Redstart, Northern Wheatear, European Stonechat, Whinchat, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Ring Ouzel, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, European Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Treecreeper, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Carrion Crow, Common Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, Brambling, Eurasian Linnet, Common Redpoll, Eurasian Siskin, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Bullfinch, Common Crossbill, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer

Other Wildlife

Red Deer, Red Squirrel, Red Fox.

Site Information

History and Use

Photo © by HelenB
The Golden Eagle Viewpoint provided by the RSPB, in Riggindale, May 2009

The Haweswater Dam was built across the lower end of the valley of Mardale in the 1930s, to provide a reservoir for the city of Manchester. There was already a 2.5 mile (4 km) long lake in the valley, and the Haweswater Reservoir was formed when the valley was flooded. Haweswater is about twice the size of the old lake, at 4 miles (6.4 km) long, ½ a mile wide and 200 ft. deep.

Golden Eagles first bred at this site in 1969 and since then 16 young have fledged. The last male eagle arrived in Riggindale in 2002, but never bred with the remaining female, because she was too old. She died in 2004 and after that, the lone male eagle would display every Spring, hoping to attract a female from the Scottish population, but without success. He has not been seen since sometime in the last half of 2015 and it is thought that he perished during Storm Desmond, the "extratropical cyclone" which caused much damage and flooding to area roads and bridges in Cumbria, in early December 2015. He was about 20 years old.

Areas of Interest

Photo © by HelenB
View up Riggindale Valley towards the Golden Eagle Viewing Point (on the right) and High Street in the distance, September 2003
  • Riggindale, for the Eagle Viewpoint.
  • The footpath to the Eagle Viewpoint begins at the carpark at the southern end of Haweswater. It is 1.25 miles (2 km) along uneven ground, around the end of the lake and up over The Rigg, then down into Riggindale. Turn left and follow the path up the valley, where you will see the Eagle Viewpoint on the right. The viewpoint is not manned out of season, but you will see the posts for telescopes against a wall (see photo right).

Access and Facilities

  • The reserve and the viewpoint, at the southern end of the lake, are open all year, but the viewpoint is only manned by the RSPB from April to August, 11 am-4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, plus bank holidays.
  • Entrance is free, but the RSPB appreciate donations to help with the upkeep of their reserves
  • There are many walking trails in the area, which are marked on the OS maps
  • There are no facilities, such as toilets
  • The Haweswater Hotel is about halfway along the lake
  • The nearest village - Bampton has a public house
  • The nearest town is Penrith, Cumbria
  • Grid Ref: NY469108

Contact Details

External Links

Recommended Citation