Submerged Whicham Valley restored after 130 years
Work to restore a valley near Millom which has been under water for 130 years has been completed.
It has taken eight months to drain Baystone Bank reservoir, which was put out of service 15 years ago, to reveal the submerged Whicham Valley.
The original route for the valley's river, Whicham Beck was uncovered, recreated and restored.
There are hopes the area will be given a new lease of life and that salmon and trout will return to spawn.
United Utilities had decided the reservoir did not meet safety standards as a source of drinking water.
The work, carried out on behalf of United Utilities, involved removing 50,000 tonnes of earth from the site's dam.
During the project, wildlife and plants had to be removed including several hundred quillwort - a rare aquatic plant - and temporarily re-homed near Windermere.'Painstaking work'
They have now been set in a newly-created pool and ecologists are currently using time-lapse cameras to monitor their progress.
Project manager Carl Sanders: "There were no records to tell us what the original valley looked like. All we had to go on was the ordnance survey map of 1867, which showed us where the river flowed.
"Fortunately when we drained the reservoir and removed the silt which had built up at the bottom over time, the original route of Whicham Beck was just visible.
"It's been painstaking work making sure the river looks as natural as possible.
"The actual work removing the dam is all done and we're now monitoring the re-colonisation of wildlife.
"We have cameras there to see how the valley regenerates and there may be some studies done later this year."
Mr Sanders added: "The operation has been a huge environmental feat, involving wildlife experts and civil engineers.
"The final job will be to recreate the natural vegetation by planting trees and shrubs over the winter."