Lake District Stories and Tips

A Lake District Summary

Grasmere Photo, Lake District, England

The Lake District is a designated national park area within the county of Cumbria, in northwest England. Its name comes from the abundance of lakes and smaller waters set against a backdrop of fells and rugged craggy mountains. Most visitors enter the park by turning off the M6 motorway either at Penrith (Junction 40, northern lakes) or near Kendal (Junction 36, south lakes), or by rail access from the north and south.

The designation of national park status prevents development of urban areas within the park. Any construction within the park is kept to an appropriate limit, and in line with the traditional style of architecture in this part of Britain. This serves to protect the environment and preserve the character of the small villages and towns within the park boundary. The charm of these typically English towns still remains, with traditional inns, bakeries and craft shops still trading in time-honoured fashion. It is the preservation of this traditional way of life that adds so much to the character of this part of England, and is part of its attraction.

Those who explore the park will find a land of contrasts. The northern part of the park is somewhat bleak in comparison with areas further south. The north is dominated by moors and heathland, with the imposing slopes of the mountains Skiddaw and Blencathra rising to 3000 feet, surrounding Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake. This type of landscape is evident from the Helvellyn mountain range northwards. Further south, the vegetation changes from pine and heather to deciduous woodlands of oak, sycamore, beech and birch. The mountains become rugged and grassy, with many small lakes (known as tarns) scattered liberally across the area. This change in vegetation is associated with subtle changes in climatic characteristics and is likely also associated with geological variation.

The south is home to England's largest lake, that of Windermere, setting for Arthur Ransome's classic children's story "Swallows and Amazons." I believe that the area between Windermere and Grasmere (slightly further north - see attached photo) is the most beautiful area in all of England.

England's highest mountain (Scafell Pike) is located to the west at the head of Wasdale valley. This area is a mecca for walkers and hikers of all standards. This is evident by the number of outdoor and walking shops in all the towns in this area. My advice is to visit a bookshop or the Lake District visitor centre (A591, Windermere) and pick a walking guide with walks suitable for your level of fitness. There are numerous guides available, as well as maps, so get out there and enjoy it. Adventurous people could even follow in the footsteps of Wainright, by climbing all the munro's (3000-foot peaks), following Wainright's guides.

William Wordsworth also resided in the Lake District area. His homes are now open to visitors as museums and worth a look.

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