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The valley from Green Gable

Ennerdale is a valley in Cumberland. Ennerdale Water, fed by the River Liza, is the most westerly lake in the Lake District National Park. Due to the remote location, the lack of a public road up the valley, and its management by the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and United Utilities, Ennerdale is relatively unspoiled. Ennerdale Water has not been as affected as other lakes in the National Park by construction, activity on the lake or the trappings of tourism.


In 2003 the valley's three major landowners formed the Wild Ennerdale Partnership. Working with Natural England, the Government's advisor on the environment, the project has a vision "to allow the evolution of Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people, relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology".[1][2]

Wild Ennerdale celebrated its 10th anniversary in June 2013. In October of that year the project was represented at the World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain. Results of the project include more recognition of the importance of the trees of Ennerdale as an example of altitudinal succession. The condition of the habitats in question (which are protected by the Pillar and Ennerdale Fells SSSI) have been assessed as "Unfavourable - Recovering".[3]

Possible introduction of predators

The project managers have a commitment to maintaining the economic culture of the valley with small-scale forestry work and farming (low-density cattle grazing is replacing sheep).

George Monbiot, who published a book on rewilding in 2013, has argued that Ennerdale is not very wild in comparison with projects in other countries.[4] He draws attention to the lack of predators in the valley to control the numbers of grazing animals such as deer. In this interpretation, rewilding implies the presence of carnivores to reduce herbivore pressure and enhance trophic diversity.

In March 2015, the Lynx UK Trust announced that Ennerdale was one of three locations in England and Scotland where it wanted to trial the reintroduction of wild Eurasian lynx.[5][6] By 2017 the Trust was proposing Kielder Forest as the preferred site for such a trial.


The valley is not much visited by tourists, but it is of interest to walkers and is sited on the "Coast to Coast Walk" devised by Alfred Wainwright.

Youth Hostels

Ennerdale has two youth hostels, "Ennerdale" and "Black Sail". Black Sail (high up the valley near Black Sail Pass), has been described as England's loneliest youth hostel.[7] In 2008 the Youth Hostels Association announced that it would withdraw the warden from Black Sail as the Forestry Commission would no longer maintain the access track as a result of the Ennerdale rewilding project.[8] However, after protests from members the YHA decided to retain the warden service, while at the same time seeking to reduce the hostel's ecological impact.[9]


Bowness Knott is a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.


  1. "Ennerdale (England)". 2016-10-22. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/wildwoods.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/EnglandCumbriaNoForestEnnerdale. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  2. "Wild Ennerdale – Shaping the Landscape Naturally". http://www.wildennerdale.co.uk/. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  3. Pillar and Ennerdale Fells SSSI
  4. The book is Feral: searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding (published by Allen Lane). Monbiot has also mentioned Ennerdale in his on-line journalism, for example: The Naturalists Who Are Terrified of Nature
  5. Dickinson, Katie (March 2015). "Reintroduction scheme could see lynx roaming Lake District for first time in 1,300 years". Westmorland Gazette. http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/11854167.Reintroduction_scheme_could_see_lynx_roaming_Lake_District_for_first_time_in_1_300_years/. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  6. Should wild lynx be introduced to Ennerdale?. March 2015.
  7. Brett, Suzanna (21 November 2012). "Two years at Black Sail". www.theguardian.com (The Guardian) (London). https://www.theguardian.com/uk/the-northerner/2012/nov/21/black-sail-youth-hostel-ennerdale-lake-district. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  8. "HOT STORIES — Live for the Outdoors". http://www.livefortheoutdoors.com/News-Landing/Search-Results/Outdoor-headlines/Special-report-The-future-of-Black-Sail-Youth-Hostel/. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  9. "grough — Hot meals back on menu after Black Sail u-turn". 2008-11-21. http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2008/11/21/hot-meals-back-on-menu-after-black-sail-u-turn. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ennerdale)