The Lake District National Park, in the county of Cumbria, is one of England’s most beautiful regions. It measures 30 miles across and contains the highest mountains in England—four are over 3000 ft: Scafell, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw.
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At 885 sq miles (2292 sq km) it is England’s largest national park. The boundary of the park, which occupies 1/3 of Cumbria, ranges from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south and from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east. The park came into being on 15th August, 1951.
Of the 16 lakes in the park, Wastwater, Windermere and Ullswater are the deepest. Other lakes are: Bassenthwaite, Buttermere, Coniston Water, Crummock Water, Derwentwater, Elterwater, Ennerdale Water, Esthwaite, Grasmere, Haweswater, Loweswater, Rydal Water, Thirlmere.
In addition, the park is home to other bodies of water called tarns. Found in easily accessible and popular areas like Tarn Hows as well as remote mountain landscapes, they range in size from being larger than some of the lakes to being so small they aren’t named.
Waterfalls and rivers, wild fells and high passes abound. Quiet pastoral countryside, moors and valleys and woodlands add to the mix. Historic market towns and villages are part of the park—Windermere, Keswick and Ambleside being the main towns. Stone circles and Roman sites contribute to the list of attractions. The Normans added monasteries and churches.
Lakeland’s mountains are comprised of three main areas. Rock formed more than 500 million years ago makes up the rounded hills of the northern Skiddaw slate area, Cumbria’s oldest mountains. In the center section are the jagged Borrowdale volcanic mountains with their sharp-edged crags. South lies the youngest of the group, limestone hills made of 440 million years old rock.
The distant past and the present are ingredients of the Lake District National Park landscape of the 21st century. The Ice Age scoured the hills into their present form. More than 5000 years of human interaction—from prehistoric stone chippings to 17th-18th century stone enclosures of the open fells to 19th century mining, quarrying and reservoir building—has further changed the landscape. Tourism puts heavy demands on the park.
The mixed oak forest of the lower mountain slopes and the pine and birch of the upper slopes have fallen to the axe. Sheep grazing, except for the highest peaks, altered the vegetation mix.
The spectacular scenery of the Lake District was a draw for literary figures. William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter are two of the many writers who helped popularize the area, Potter with her tales of Peter Rabbit and Wordsworth with his poetry.
At Brockhole is the National Park Visitor Centre where you can learn about the park and participate in the many events and activities offered here.
Whether gazing upwards at a peak, walking a leafy trail, or boating on a lake, visitors are enchanted by the many attractions of the Lake District National Park.
The Lake District National Park is reached off the M6 and A6.
Brockhole Lake District National Park Visitor Centre
halfway between Ambleside andWindermere on the A591
Tel: 0 1539 446 601
Open: grounds, daily, year round, dawn-6pm; house and shop, June-Oct, 10am-5pm; Oct-May, house and shop, 10am-4pm
Exhibitions on the park; AV show; café; shop; picnic area; landscaped grounds; adventure playground; parking--fee charged
Other visitor information centres are located at Bowness and Windermere, Coniston, Glenridding, Grasmere, Hawkshead, Keswick, Pooley Bridge, Seatoller in Borrowdale, and Waterhead and Ambleside.
For detailed information on the park’s attractions and the county of Cumbria visit our sister site The Cumbria Directory
Lake District National Park official website: Lake District National Park
Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Lakeland Cam, Mad about Mountains and Graeme Dougal.