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Water company bosses from across the country had a splashing time in the Lake District when they paid a visit to two of the North West's largest reservoirs.
Land managers and ecologists from 10 UK water companies visited Thirlmere and Haweswater to see how United Utilities protects some of England's most iconic scenery while welcoming tens of thousands of visitors every year.
The visit was part of the annual Conservation, Access and Recreation Conference for water companies, which was this year hosted by United Utilities.
Northern Catchment manager Paul Phillips said: "Water companies own huge amounts of land as gathering grounds for precious water supplies for their customers, and it is often some of the most beautiful parts of England. Few people realise that in Cumbria alone United Utilities owns about 40,000 acres. That's about eight per cent of the Lake District National Park. Plus we have many more beautiful sites in places like the the Forest of Bowland and the Pennines.
"People have always been able to visit these places, but as an industry, especially here in the North West, we're getting better and better at helping people get the most out of their trip while protecting the environment and, most importantly for us, the quality of our water.
"This conference was our chance to show people from other water companies how we're doing it."
United Utilities leads the way in sustainable catchment management and its multi-million pound programme is now being mirrored by other water companies in the UK.
The company is also forward-thinking in the way it manages conservation, working with partners as diverse at the RSPB, Natural England, the Lake District National Park, Friends of the Lake District, Cumbria Woodlands, the Environment Agency, rivers trusts and others. Many of these also attended the conference.
"We love the Lake District and are proud of what we're doing here and we'd love our visitors to share in it. That's why this year we removed a lot of old signs around Thirlmere and Haweswater and put up fewer but better interpretation boards so people can learn a little bit more about the history, development, activities and reason why these beautiful places exist.
"We're improving the visitor experience all the time and one of the things conference delegates were most interested in was the development of a new family-friendly cycle route which is beginning to take shape around Thirlmere. Maybe some of the things we do so well in Cumbria will soon be seen in other parts of the country too," said Paul.
Picture of Thirlmere reservoir and the west flank of Helvellyn by Steve Barber