As it all used to be. The tranquil head of  the Mardale valley. The peaceful secluded church with adjacent farms and friendly Dun Bull inn. This was the early 1900’s before mans desire for water was to take it away forever.

I’ve written a book that tells the story of Mardale, with many original photographs and illustrations. See here if you are interested.


Mardale is flooded

The reservoir is full and the painful scars of destruction and pillage are hidden beneath deep waters.


Mardale re-emerges

September 30th 1995. The waters have receded and the remains of old Mardale have come forth.



The photos above are some that are contained in a book ‘Mardale Mysteries’ that has just been published. It is the culmination of over 50 years of researching the history and characters of the time, and putting it all together in an easy to read and entertaining way. It tells the story of how life evolved within the valley and the tragedy of dales folk losing their farms and homes in order to satisfy the demand for water from a big city.

Mardale Mysteries has over 270 pages and 182 photographs, many of which are unique to the author. The book details are here



I am John Cooke and I live in Liverpool. I have been climbing hills and mountains all my life. I served in various roles in the Royal Marines, and was then a history teacher at the Liverpool Institute High School. I took early retirement to continue my passion for climbing, involving trips to Iceland, the Alps, Kilimanjaro and  Mount Kenya in Africa. My most cherished achievement is climbing all of the Munros (hills over 3000 ft) in Scotland, which I completed in 2008.

My obsession with Mardale started in 1957 when I was just 14 years old. Could I hear church bells tolling beneath dark waters? Wherever I have travelled to, I have always returned to Mardale.

I encourage you to visit, take with you a copy of ‘Mardale Mysteries‘, and imagine how life was before the valley was flooded.