Vandals have scratched graffiti on buildings, and stones have been removed from walls of a lost Derbyshire village, hidden beneath Ladybower reservoir.
Low water levels at the beauty spot in the Hope Valley near Sheffield have revealed the ruins of the village of Derwent, which was flooded in 1943 to make way for the reservoir.
‘Unprecedented’ numbers of visitors have flocked to the area in recent weeks hoping to catch a glimpse of the remnants of the forgotten buildings, which include a church, village hall and manor house.
However, vandals have now caused damage to them, scrawling messages on exposed buildings and taking stones off walls before throwing them in the mud.
And, park rangers say they have had to stop people trying to remove material from the site.
Clare Whittaker, of Owlthorpe, has visited the area 11 times to see the ‘beautiful’ structures, but after her most recent visit was left ‘disgusted’ at the actions of both adults and children who were seen damaging the structures.
She said: “I went last Sunday and was shocked at how many people were there. It was so sad to see. We’re very lucky to get to see some good history but people were deliberately destroying the history.
“I saw families with children, and the adults were as bad as the kids, pushing stones off the wall and chucking them into the mud.
“There were some lovely black tiles and they were kicking them about. I was gobsmacked and disgusted, especially to see the adults damaging the beautiful stonework.”
Derwent and the neighbouring village of Ashopton were sacrificed to make way for Ladybower reservoir, which was built between 1935 and 1943.
The Peak District National Authority – who came into existence after the decision was made to submerge the villages – are now asking visitors to respect the site.
Anna Badcock, landscape archaeologist and Cultural Heritage manager for the Peak District National Park, said: “We are shocked by recent social media reports that a small number of visitors to the Ladybower reservoir ‘lost villages’ have been seen removing brickwork and other features and throwing these items into the mud at the base of the reservoir.
“Whilst we understand that people are fascinated by the appearance of these usually hidden ruins, the structures remain an iconic archaeological feature of the Peak District National Park.
“As we wouldn’t expect people to vandalise any of the National Park’s many heritage buildings or other archaeological features, the remains of the homes and other submerged buildings of Derwent and Ashopton are no exception.
“We urge people to leave these features intact to open a valuable window onto history, not just today, but for future generations to enjoy.”
People are also being urged to view the ruins from the surrounding banking, as venturing onto the reservoir bed can be dangerous.
It comes after Edale Mountain Rescue team revealed they had rescued multiple people who had become trapped in the thick mud, including one man who was stuck for over half an hour.
Visitors are asked to respect safety signs, and to listen to advice of rangers and volunteers on the site, with ranger patrols taking place in the area whilst the water levels remain low.