From the south the visitor to Keswick and the northern lakes is greeted by spectacular views when dropping down the pass from Dunmail Raise. The huge mass of Helvellyn on the right creates the narrow valley of Thirlmere, occupied by its large reservoir. Over a hundred years ago two small lakes and a small hamlet were drowned by the building of a large dam at the northern end of the valley. This now supplies Manchester with water through nearly one hundred miles of tunnels, pipes and channels.
Thirlmere is now increasingly accessible to the public, especially from the quieter minor road on the western side. The severe and dark coniferous forest has been managed to create more mixed woodland. Approaching Thirlspot, its inn very popular with the walkers off Helvellyn as well as passers by, the view widens across the green fields to the northern fells, particularly to Blencathra, framed in the gorge like entrance to St John's in the Vale, where the small hillside church is well worth a visit.