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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 16:47 GMT
Underwater gnome threat 'returns'
Wastwater, Cumbria
Wastwater is the deepest in the Lake District
A secret underwater attraction that lured several divers to their deaths could have returned, police say.

The "gnome garden" complete with picket fence was removed from the bottom of Wastwater in the Lake District after several divers died a few years ago.

It is thought they spent too much time at too great a depth while searching for the site of the ornaments.

Now police divers say there is a rumour that the garden has returned at a depth beyond which they are allowed.

Pc Kenny McMahon, a member of the North West Police Underwater Search Unit, said the gnomes were well known among the diving community.

Dive limit

He said: "Wastwater is quite clear at the bottom, but there's nothing to see. At a depth of about 48m, divers had taken gnomes down and put a picket fence around them.

"But several years ago there were a number of fatalities and the Lake District National Park Authority asked us to get rid of them.

"We went down there, put them in bags and removed the lot.

"But now there's a rumour about a new garden beyond the 50m depth limit.

"As police divers we can't legally dive any deeper so, if it exists, the new garden could have been purposefully put out of our reach."

'Extra pressure'

Wastwater is three miles long, half a mile wide and about 80m deep, the deepest in the Lake District.

Dave Dresser, from the Sub-Aqua Association, said different associations had different depth limits but theirs was 50m for air divers, and that was only for very experienced divers.

He said technical divers, who used a mixture of gases, could go below that depth.

He said: "You have got to be experienced to go below that sort of depth, especially in Wastwater.

"It's a very risky thing. In Wastwater, the water is very cold, which puts a lot of extra pressure on your body. It is very clear water which gives you a false sense of security."

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