Lake District

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The English Lake District
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Keswick Panorama - Oct 2009.jpg
Panorama of Keswick in the Lake District
National territory: United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Type: Culture
Criteria : ii, v, vi
Surface: 229,205.19 ha
Reference No .: 422
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 2017  ( session 41 )

The Lake District ( German  "Seebezirk" ) is one of fifteen national parks in the United Kingdom . It was the first national park in the United Kingdom to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status in July 2017 . It is located in the county of Cumbria in north-west England about 130 km from Manchester and extends over 2172 km². The Cumbrian Mountains make up a large part of the impressive mountain and lake landscape. All geographic points over 3000  feet (914.4 m) in England are in the Lake District, as is England's largest natural lake, Windermere .

The area is popularly known as “The Lakes”. She became famous in the early 19th century through the poems and literature of William Wordsworth and other " Lake Poets ". The most important industries are sheep farming and tourism .


Location of the Lake District
The 451 meter high Catbells, looking south

The Lake District is around 55 km long and wide (north-south or west-east). It is the result of several ice ages , but above all the Worm Ice Age , which ended around 15,000 years ago. The ice created trough valleys , most of which have lakes that give the national park its name. In the upper regions are many Kare , usually with small ponds ( tarns ). The higher hill areas are rocky, in the lower there are extensive raised bogs , covered with bracken and common heather . Under the tree line to extend native oak forests and planted in the 19th century pine forests . The terrain is mostly swampy due to heavy rainfall. The hills and mountains in the Lake District are commonly referred to as fell (see also Fjell ).

To the northwest lie the Borrowdale and Buttermere valleys , connected by Honister Pass . This region includes the Newlands -Fells, consisting of Dale Head (753 m) and Catbells (451 m). To the north are Grasmoor (852 m), Grisedale Pike (791 m) and the hills around the Coledale Valley, to the extreme northwest Thornthwaite Forest and Lord's Seat. The hills of this region are made of slate and have small cirques with ponds.

The western part is the area between Buttermere and Wasdale , with the Sty Head forming the tip of a large triangle. The Ennerdale Valley in the middle is surrounded by the High Stile Ridge (807 m), the Loweswater of the Pillar Group (892 m) and the Great Gable (892 m). Other hills are Seatallan (692 m), Haystacks (597 m) and Kirk Fell (802 m). This area is consistently steep and rocky. The Wast Water is the deepest lake in England.

Great Gable

The central part is deepest. It has the shape of a long, boot-shaped ridge between Loughrigg Fell (335 m) above the popular tourist town of Ambleside and Keswick . On the west and east side are the Derwent Water and Thirlmere lakes . The Great Langdale Valley with the High Raise (762 m) is very popular with hikers. The central ridge over the High Seat (608 m) is particularly swampy.

The eastern region consists of a ridge in a north-south direction, the Helvellyn Range . It stretches from Clough Head (726 m) to Seat Sandal (736 m), with Helvellyn being the highest mountain at 951 m. The western slopes of these peaks are generally covered with grass, while the eastern slopes are criss-crossed by rocky cirques and crags. South of this ridge is the Fairfield Group (873 m) with a similar shape. The Red Screes (776 m) lies between the valleys of Patterdale and Ambleside. On the eastern side of Patterdale are the Far Eastern Fells, an extensive raised bog; High Street (828 m) is its highest point. Further to the southeast is the high valley of Kentmere , where the transition to the Pennines is located.

The so-called Mid West is triangular in shape, with the Irish Sea , Borrowdale and Great Langdale forming the peaks. There are the Wastwater Screes above Wasdale, the Glaramara Ridge (783 m) above Borrowdale, the three hills Crinkle Crags (859 m), Bowfell (902 m) and Esk Pike (885 m) above the Langdale valley and in the middle Scafell Pike (978 m), England's highest mountain. Sca Fell (963 m), southwest of Scafell Pike, is only a few meters less high, but on its north side has a rock face over 200 m high, the Scafell Cragg. The Eskdale Valley runs through this pristine area .

On the northern border with the southwestern hills lie the Hardknott and Wrynose passes . The mountain passes are particularly narrow and steep, with sharp hairpin bends. The ridge Furness Fells , which separates the Coniston and Duddon Valley from each other, runs through this region in a north-east-south-west direction . On the opposite side of Duddon Valley are Harter Fell (649 m) and the ridge from Whitfell (573 m) to Black Combe (600 m) and the sea. To the south of this region lies Kirkby Moor .

The southeast region is the area between Coniston Water and Windermere and east of Windermere. There are no particularly high peaks here, but mainly smaller hills and crests such as Gummer's How (321 m) and Whitbarrow (215 m). Between the two lakes lies the extensive Grizedale Forest . In the southeast lies the city of Kendal , in the southwest the Morecambe Bay .

The Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park is one of 15 national parks in the United Kingdom and the largest in England. It originally covered 2,292 square kilometers of Cumbria. It was expanded by 27 km² in 2016 and now also includes areas from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common and Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, areas north of Sizergh Castle and parts of the Lyth Valley. There are 275 protected monuments in the park, 1,741 entries in the list of around 2,000 listed buildings and structures, 21 conservation areas, nine registered parks and gardens and the western part of Hadrian's Wall , a World Heritage Site.


The Scafell massif

The eleven highest mountains of the Cumbrian Mountains resp. of the Lake District:

Many mountains in the Lake District are named Wainwrights after the author Alfred Wainwright who wrote a number of popular hiking guides about the Lake District.



Despite the name Lake District, there is only one lake in the national park with the addition of Lake , Bassenthwaite Lake. Except for the Innominate Tarn, all others end in -water or -mere . The term camouflage is also common for small lakes and ponds .

There are said to be around 1000 lakes of various sizes in the Lake District.


The geology of the Lake District is complex but well understood. The oldest rocks are the Skiddaw shale layers and the Borrowdale volcanic layers. These go back to the Ordovician around 500 million years ago. The Skiddaw schist layers are on the northern edge of the national park and were likely deposits in a shallow sea; its thickness is unknown. The highest mountains in the Lake District are made up of the volcanic Borrowdale rocks, which are largely resistant to erosion . Later intrusions caused igneous rock to come to the surface in some places . The other significant rock formation is the Windermere Group from the Silurian Period , consisting of sandstone that rests on older volcanic rock.


The Borrowdale with the south end of Derwent Water

The Lake District's ocean-facing position and mountainous shape mean that this region is the wettest in England . The average rainfall is 2000 mm per year, although there are significant local differences. Seathwaite in Borrowdale is the wettest populated area in the British Isles , at over 5000mm per year . Keswick , located at the end of Borrowdale, receives only 1470 mm of precipitation annually and Penrith , just outside the Lake District, only receives 870 mm. The driest months are March to June and the wettest months are October to January (the difference is only slight, however).

The Lake District is also a very windy area. In the protected valleys strong winds occur on an average of five days per year , on the coast 20 days. Strong winds can occur on the mountain tops for up to 100 days. The temperate climate means that temperatures in the Lake District vary little throughout the year. The mean temperatures in the valleys range from 3 ° C in January to 15 ° C in July (for comparison, Moscow , which is at the same latitude , between −10 ° C and 19 ° C). Snow can fall between November and April, the summit of Helvellyn is covered with snow for an average of 67 days per year. The snow stays in the valleys for an average of 20 days. Fog is common on the peaks year-round, resulting in only 2.5 hours of daily sunshine (4.1 hours on the coastal plains).

fauna and Flora

European squirrel

The fauna and flora of the region is very rich, some species are endemic . The Lake District is one of the last refuge areas for the Eurasian squirrels , displaced by the North American gray squirrels on the rest of the island . Colonies with sundew can also be found . The only pair of golden eagles in England live in the Lake District. Red deer inhabit the hills and valleys of the Lake District.

Three rare and endangered fish species live in the lakes: the whitefish ( Coregonus albula ) (only in Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water), the schelly ( Coregonus stigmaticus ) (only in Brothers Water, Haweswater, Red Tarn and Ullswater) and the arctic char (Buttermere, Coniston Water, Crummock Water, Ennerdale Water, Haweswater, Loweswater, Thirlmere, Wastwater and Windermere). The Environment Agency issued new fisheries regulations in July 2002 to protect the rare species. For example, the use of live fish as bait is prohibited (or dead bait in 14 lakes in the Lake District). Anglers who do not comply with the regulations can face fines of up to £ 2500. The 14 lakes affected are Bassenthwaite Lake, Brothers Water, Buttermere, Coniston Water, Crummock Water, Derwent Water, Ennerdale Water, Haweswater, Loweswater, Red Tarn, Thirlmere, Ullswater, Wastwater and Windermere.

Industry and agriculture

Forestry on Harter Fell

During the Neolithic Age , the Lake District was a major stone ax- making center , as evidenced by numerous finds across Great Britain. The most important site on the slopes of the Langdale Pikes is sometimes referred to as the "stone ax factory". Some of the oldest stone circles in England are associated with this trade.

Agriculture has been the predominant livelihood since Roman times , especially sheep farming . The sheep, which are most closely identified with the region in connection include the tough Herdwick of breed of animals, including Rough Fell - and Swaledale -Sheep are common. Sheep farming is not only important for the region's economy, but also for maintaining the cultural landscape, which is appreciated by visitors. This also includes the construction of dry stone walls . In some places there is also silage and milk production . The non-indigenous pine forests are important for forestry . In 2001, the area was particularly badly affected by foot and mouth disease . Thousands of sheep had to be culled .

Mining was particularly important in the Lake District from the 16th to the 19th centuries . Were reduced copper , lead (often interspersed with silver ), barite , graphite and slate . The undergrowth of the forests was used to produce charcoal . Some slate quarries are still in operation, for example on the Honister Pass. There are abandoned mines on the mountain slopes throughout the region. The mining of graphite resulted in the creation of a pencil industry, particularly around Keswick. In the mid-19th century, half of the bobbins produced worldwide for the textile industry came from the Lake District. However, tourism has been the most important branch of the economy since the 20th century.

Development of tourism

Claife Station on the west bank of Windermere

One of the earliest visitors to the Lake District to travel here for study and pleasure was Celia Fiennes , who traveled across England in 1698. She rode through Kendal and over the Kirkstone Pass into Patterdale . She recorded her experiences and impressions in the book Great Journey to Newcastle and Cornwall .

In 1724 Daniel Defoe published the first volume of A Tour Thro 'the Whole Island of Great Britain . He wrote of Westmorland :

[...] the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England, or even Wales itself; the west side, which borders on Cumberland, is indeed bounded by a chain of almost unpassable mountains which, in the language of the country, are called fells.
([…] The wildest, bare, and terrifying region I have crossed in England or even Wales; the west side, bordering Cumberland, is truly bordered by a chain of almost impassable mountains called Fells in the language of the country become.)

Towards the end of the 18th century, the area became more popular with travelers. The main cause was ongoing wars in continental Europe , which limited the possibility of travel there. In 1778 Pastor Thomas West wrote A Guide to the Lakes, heralding the era of tourism. West listed "stations": points from which tourists could enjoy the best views of the landscape. Buildings were erected in some of these spots to give visitors more time to appreciate the beauty of the landscape and develop their aesthetic sense. The remains of Claife Station (on the west bank of Windermere below Claife Heights) can be viewed today.

William Wordsworth wrote his Guide to the Lakes in 1810 , the fifth edition of which was published in 1835 and was now called A Guide through the District of the Lakes in the North of England (a guide through the District of the Lakes in the North of England ). This book was instrumental in making the region known. Wordsworth's favorite valley was Duddon Valley in the southwest. The well-known author and poet Norman Nicholson was from this area; the last of the Lake Poets lived in the village of Millom and wrote about his homeland.

A steamship on the Ullswater

The construction of railways led to a further expansion of tourism. The Kendal and Windermere Railway was the first to reach the Lake District. The line between Oxenholme and Kendal was opened in 1846, the section to Windermere in 1847. The line to Coniston in the south was opened in 1848, that from Penrith via Keswick to Cockermouth in 1865. The last route to Lakeside followed in 1869 . The railways were originally built to transport the mineral resources extracted in the Lake District, but soon they were mainly used for tourism. In addition to the railways, steamboats operated on lakes Ullswater, Windermere, Coniston Water and Derwent Water .

The number of tourists also increased in the age of the automobile when most of the railway lines were closed. The national park was established in 1951 to protect the environment in the Lake District from excessive economic exploitation and to preserve the landscape without, however, restricting the rights of visitors (at least temporarily). The M6 Motorway , which runs past the eastern edge of the Lake District, further increased accessibility.

Typical landscape in the Lake District

The popularity of the region also contributed Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells of Alfred Wainwright in. First published in the 1950s, these travel guides provided information on 214 peaks in the region, with carefully hand-drawn maps and panoramas, and stories from the region. These books are still used today by many visitors who want to climb all of these Wainwrights .

The local economy is now dependent on tourism. Every year around 14 million tourists visit the area. The steamboats on the Windermere are the UK's second most popular paid tourist attraction. A negative impact of tourism is the erosion of the soil caused by the mass influx of hikers. A boat speed limit of 11 knots (18.5 km / h) was introduced on Windermere in 2000. This step is welcomed by many, including the National Park Authority, as it is a way back to the quiet nature of the lake and at the same time the lake is becoming more attractive for more visitors. In 2006 some tourist information centers had to be closed for cost reasons.

Influence on literature

The literary work of William Wordsworth is inextricably linked to the Lake District.

The Lake District is closely associated with 18th and 19th century English literature . Thomas Gray was the first to publicize the region in 1769 when he wrote an account of his Grand Tour . Much better known and more influential, however, are the works of William Wordsworth . His poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud , inspired by the sight of daffodils on the banks of the Ullswater, is considered one of the most famous in the English language. He spent sixty of his eighty years in this region, first as a student in Hawkshead, later in Grasmere (1799-1813) and Rydal Mount (1813-1850).

Wordsworth and his wife are buried in Grasmere Cemetery, very close to Hartley Coleridge , who lived for many years in Keswick, Ambleside and Grasmere. His father Samuel Taylor Coleridge also lived in Keswick for a few years. Wordsworth's friend Robert Southey also lived in Keswick from 1803 to 1843 and is buried in the Crosthwaite cemetery. John Wilson was a resident of Windermere from 1807 to 1815. Thomas De Quincey lived in Grasmere for much of 1809 to 1828, in the first house Wordsworth had lived in. Thomas Arnold and Harriet Martineau lived in Ambleside and the surrounding area . John Ruskin spent the last years of his life on the banks of Coniston Water .

In addition to these Lake District residents and locals, there are numerous other poets and authors who have visited the area or been on friendly terms with the above. These include Norman Nicholson , Percy Bysshe Shelley , Walter Scott , Nathaniel Hawthorne , Arthur Hugh Clough , Henry Crabb Robinson , Thomas Carlyle , John Keats , Alfred Tennyson , Matthew Arnold , Felicia Hemans, and Gerald Massey .

During the early 20th century, popular children's author Beatrix Potter lived on Hill Top Farm. Many of her stories about Peter Rabbit take place in the Lake District. In order to protect the landscape from the destruction caused by tourism, she bought farms which she continued to work and ultimately bequeathed to the National Trust - a total of more than 16 km². Your house is a popular attraction, especially among Japanese tourists. Her life was filmed in 2006 under the title Miss Potter , with Renée Zellweger in the title role. Hugh Walpole and Arthur Ransome lived in the Lake District around the same time as Potter .


  • Tom Clare: Prehistoric Monuments of the Lake District. The History Press 2007 ISBN 978-0-7524-4105-4 .
  • Erik Lorenz : Through the heart of England. Step by step from coast to coast. Wiesenburg, Schweinfurt 2014, ISBN 3-956321-04-9 (detailed report on a hike through the Lake District with color photos).
  • James Rebanks: My life as a shepherd , ISBN 978-3-570-10291-6 Description of the cultural landscape and the life of the shepherds there
  • Michael Pohl: Marco Polo Lake District , ISBN 978-3829729505 (travel guide)

Web links

Commons : Lake District  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Nazia Parveen, Lake District is UK's first national park to win world heritage status in: The Guardian, July 9, 2017, accessed July 10, 2017
  2. Helen Pidd, Yorkshire Dales expand into Lancashire in national parks land grab , in: The Guardian, August 1, 2016, accessed August 20, 2016

Coordinates: 54 ° 30 ′  N , 3 ° 10 ′  W