Kielder's water myths: Are there abandoned villages under Northumberland Lake?

The myths of long-lost villages under Kielder Water have captivated the imagination for decades.

Folklore says that the hilly farmland and abandoned stone houses are located at the bottom of the Northumberland man-made lake.

And it is said that when the water level drops, you can see an arrow with a bell emerge from the lake.

So, is there any truth behind the myths that Kielder Water has its own villages, like those in Atlantis?

Unfortunately not, according to Jonty Hall, customer services manager for Northumbrian Water.

"We are regularly asked questions about this and I would like to say that the myths are true, but they are not," he said.

"People will always be curious about what's underneath – it will probably never go away.

"Before the creation of the lake, all houses and buildings were razed and all materials were washed away. There is nothing there. "

Kielder Forest and the Cheviots, 1961
Kielder Forest and the Cheviots, 1961

Kielder Water – the largest man-made lake in northern Europe – was created to meet the growing demand for water to support Britain's strong industrial economy.

After the approval of the project by the Parliament in 1974, construction of the reservoir and dam in the Kielder Valley began the following year.

However, many farms, homes and schools were lost and many families were forced to leave the area.

Mr Hall said: "The European Economic Community has applied the Kielder Order for Waters in 1974 and work has started for the felling of trees and clearing.

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"The area was chosen because villages were sparsely populated and rainfall was plentiful – twice the national average.

"I think that one of the villages had about 14 families who lived there at the time and they had to move to new houses built elsewhere."

The works were completed in 1981 for a cost of £ 167 million and the following year it was officially opened by the Queen. It took another two years for the valley to fill up with water completely.

Once completed, the Kielder Water Scheme was one of the largest and most prospective projects of its time.

Army Girls at Kielder Nursery, c1940
Army Girls at Kielder Nursery, c1940

This system is a regional transfer system designed to allow the discharge of water into the Tyne, Derwent, Wear and Tees rivers.

This water is used to maintain minimum flows during periods of low rainfall and to release additional flows for domestic and industrial use.

Two hydroelectric generators have also been installed at the Kielder Dam to convert latent energy into electricity for the national grid.

A water discharge of 1,300 million liters a day can produce enough energy to light up a city the size of Hexham, which has about 11,000 inhabitants.

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Other news of today

Today, Kielder Water is one of the county's top tourist destinations and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012.

Elisabeth Rowark of the Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust said at the time: "Kielder is such a special place and a place of interest to many people.

"Its scale, its breathtaking scenery and its pure and idyllic tranquility make it such a majestic and memorable place."

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