The hydrochemistry of 26 small blanket bog lakes was examined to assess the impact of conifer plantation forestry on lake water chemistry. Lakes were selected from three distinct catchment land use categories: i) unplanted blanket bog only present in the catchment, ii) mature (closed-canopy) conifer plantation forests only present in the catchment and iii) catchments containing mature conifer plantation forests with recently clearfelled areas. All three catchment land uses were replicated across two geologies: sedimentary (sandstone) and igneous (granite). Lakes with afforested catchments across both geologies had elevated concentrations of phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), total dissolved organic carbon (TDOC), aluminium (Al) and iron (Fe), with the highest concentrations of each parameter recorded from lakes with catchment clearfelling. Dissolved oxygen was also significantly reduced in the afforested lakes, particularly the clearfell lakes. Analysis of runoff from a nearby recently clearfelled site revealed high biological and chemical oxygen demands, consistent with at least part of the elevated concentrations of TDOC emanating from clearfelled sites having higher biochemical lability. Inorganic fertilisers applied at the start of the forest cycle, the decay of the underlying peat soil and accumulated surface tree litter, and leachate from felled trees are the likely sources of the elevated concentrations of plant nutrients, TDOC, heavy metals and major ions, with excessive peat soil disturbance during clearfelling likely exacerbating the runoff into lakes. Our study has demonstrated a clear, deleterious impact of conifer plantations on the water quality draining from blanket bog catchments, with major implications for the management of afforested peatlands. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.