In the heart of the Lake District


The water that powers the mill-wheels runs from Englands highest mountains and has never been known to dry up.

Whillan Beck

For over 1000 years the Whillan Beck has been providing environmentally friendly renewable energy. The Mill has two 12 foot overshot mill wheels each 3 foot wide. Overshot wheels are powered from a sluice over the top of the wheel, the water is fed into bucket like wooden boxes, when the box fills it causes an inbalance in the wheel which makes it turn.


The two current overshot waterwheels power a complex arrangement of wooden hoppers, hoists and millstones. These were installed by Edward Hartley in the 1700s, and are still very much at the heart of this unique water powered mill.

Chattering damsel shakes a box which feeds grain to the mill stones

Oats are fed onto the ‘eye’ of the top runner stone by an adjustable shoe, agitated by a ‘damsel’. Both stones, 5ft. dia. millstone grits, have a pattern cut into the working faces and shear the grain as it travels to the edge; the bedstone is stationary. The meal or flour exits down chutes to bagged up for animal feed or fed through an eccentrically rotating sieve for kitchen quality oatmeal. Oats where the main source of food for the valley down the centuries, although in more recent times the second wheel was added, with French stones for grinding corn. Many other pieces of machinery are on show at the mill, it is a fascinating insight into a bygone age.