Almost 100 years after it was first tried, hydro-electric power is returning to a tourist honeypot.

The old turbine at Watendlath is to be replaced as part of a £10million green power project by the National Trust in Cumbria.

It is one of 10 projects planned for the county over the next three years.

They are part of a national programme to invest £33m in 43 projects to help the chairty generate 50 per cent of our energy from renewable energy sources by 202 0

The original Watendlath unit was built in 1920 to provided electricity before the hamlet was served by the National Grid, but has not been operational for decades.

The powerhouse still contains the original 1920’s Francis turbine manufactured by Gilkes of Kendal. Both will be replaced, as will the original pipes used to supply the water.

The system is known as a “run of the river hydro”. It does not involve damming up water, instead it flows over a grille and a certain amount falls through into a pipe below which delivers the water at high pressure to turn the turbo at 1,000 rpm.

The energy produced will be enough to power 55 average family homes for a year.

The new turbine will produce 200,000 kilowatt hours of power a year. The average home uses 3,600 kilowatts a year.

The project is expected to cost around £350,000.

It follows similar schemes at Stickle Ghyll in Great Langdale, which was completed in October 2015, Hause Gill at Seatoller and Hayeswater at Hartsop in the Ullswater valley .

The Hayeswater scheme is the biggest yet, producing 250 kilowatts of power and costing over £ 1 m. The Stickle Gill scheme cost £800,000.

Two schemes are currently in construction at Greenburn, Little Langdale and Netherbeck, West Lakes.

Garry Sharples, the National Trust’s lead consultant in the Lakes for h ydropower p rojects, said of the Watendlath scheme : “ T he turbine is still there, and could be used, but we will be installing a modern unit.

“ In 2011 we car r ied out a survey of all the water courses on National Trust land and discovered that over 150 projects could be established, though it is unlikely that all will be developed because of the environmental impact some would cause.

“What we really like about these schemes in the Lakes is the fact that many of the watercourses have been used for hydropower over previous centuries – whether for fulling mills, corn mills or to power the numerous mines and quarries we have in the Lake District.

“We’re also discovering many redundant schemes that are similar to ours, switched off when power was eventually brought into valleys and more remote parts of the Lakes. In other words, hydropower is nothing new – we are just developing a more modern and efficient way of utilising our ubiquitous water supply but with much more rigorous environmental safeguards than ever before.”

With it's easy incline and postcard scenery, the walk to Watendlath alongside the beck attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The powerhouses used to house the turbines are faced with uncut stone or reclaimed slates so that they are in keeping with their surroundings.

The Natiomnal Trust is hoping to begin work on the turbine scheme in autumn next year. The project is expected to last about a year, weathe permitting.