Thirlmere reservoir

Originally two smaller lakes, the Manchester City Corporation Waterworks purchased the lakes in 1889 and dammed the area, creating Thirlmere reservoir. The damming of the reservoir resulted in the submergence of two villages; Armboth and Wythburn.

The reservoir supplies water to Manchester with a low level circular route to walk around. There are more challenging routes in the surrounding fells with the Helvellyn Ridge to the east, providing stunning scenery.  

Thirlmere reservoir offers a peaceful escape and is a great place to spot red squirrels, being a designated red squirrel reserve.  

Please note that Legburthwaite car park will be closed from 21st August until further notice for timber harvesting operations. 

Location   Opening Hours   Parking   Fishing

Keswick, CA12 4TW.

Tel: 017687 72334



Open all day, every day


Car parks are 'Pay and Display'. Coins only, tickets transferable in United Utilities car parks on day of issue.


A591: Swirls and Wythburn

West Road: Steel End, Dob Gill and Armboth

BE5322: Legburthwaite


Fishing allowed but only with Environment Agency rod license. Anglers may use fly, spinner or worm. Bag limit of two fish.

Day permits to fish at Thirlmere are available online or locally from Youdales Newsagents in Keswick or from Barneys News Box in Grasmere - and from all other WADAA permit agents.  

Toilets   Horse Riding   Other Activities   Picnic Area
Toilets located at Armboth, Dob Gill and Swirls car parks - but closed in Winter   Bridleways available as shown on the OS map of the area.   For event access or advice contact our Northern Catchment Team on 01768 772 334.    Picnic areas are available across sites
Walking   Cycling        
Circular route around the reservoir with more challenging routes in the surrounding fells.   Reservoir circular route suitable for cycling. Fell and forest trails suitable for mountain biking.  





We want to share our beautiful sites with you, and we ask you enjoy them in a manner that allows others to enjoy them after you, this includes:

  • Following the Countryside Code - Respect, Protect and Enjoy.
  • Taking your litter home, or using the available bins.
  • Keeping dogs under control for the safety of livestock and others.
  • Respecting farmers at work on the land by leaving gates as you find them.
  • Sticking to paths when walking, running or cycling. This helps us protect the sensitive ecosystems that form the habitats on our sites.
  • Please help guard against wildfires by not bringing BBQ’s and taking care with disguarded cigarettes.

  • You may also want to read about:

    Reservoir safety

    Blue-green algae

    Giant hogweed

    Recreation permits