Introducing The English Lake District

A Heaton Cooper - Derwentwater
Derwentwater, from Castle Head
by A. Heaton Cooper (c.1905)

This section of the Around-England site is a celebration of the Lake District, in Cumbria, an area containing some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

We ourselves are based in the Eden Valley, just outside the Lake District, and want to encourage you to come and see Cumbria for yourselves.

You can use the site to help:

  • organise a visit
  • view the landscape
  • explore the heritage
  • investigate the towns
  • discover hidden corners
  • find/book accommodation
  • learn of the poets and painters
  • trace interesting art and books
  • plan your
    • – tramping of the fells
    • – climbing in the mountains
    • – sailing or fishing on the lakes

See our growing Lake District Directory, “Where to go”. There is some introductory information below. Also, you can use the site navigation buttons under the header photo to find a wide variety of items on the entire Around-England site and blog.

Ullswater in Evening Sun

The Lake District

The “Lake District” is in Cumbria, the county at the far northwest corner of England. It contains most of the country’s major lakes although there are others, both natural and artificial, in other parts of England.

This is an area of outstanding beauty. The slogan of the local tourist board some years ago labelled it “The most beautiful corner of England”. I certainly would not want to disagree with that. It is small, no more than about forty five miles across in any direction. However, as one 19th century guidebook (Black’s Guide to England and Wales, 1864) expressed it, in typically effusive Victorian style: “No tract of country in Britain combines in richer affluence those varied features of sublimity and beauty which have conferred upon this spot so high a reputation.”

Major centres (from south to north) are Kendal, Bowness, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere and Keswick. Just outside the national park to the northeast, Cockermouth can be found alongside the A66 on the way to the West Cumbrian coastal industrial towns of Workington and Whitehaven. Penrith is to the east by the M6 motorway and Carlisle a little further north, close to the Scottish border. In the south of Cumbria, on opposite sides of the Duddon estuary, are the former steel towns of Millom and Barrow, the latter still having a significant ship-building industry.

The Furness peninsula which used to be in Lancashire and the countryside to the east of the M6 motorway, even though mostly outside the Lake District as usually defined, contain much of interest and are not neglected. (See, for example, blog items on the 2011 Appleby Horse Fair with its traditional horse washing in the River Eden).

Appleby - Young riders in the river

A Little History

Historically the Lake District consisted of parts of three counties – southern Cumberland, western Westmorland, and northern Lancashire. Now, however, since county boundary reorganisation in 1974, it is all in the newly formed county of Cumbria (which also, outside the Lake District, includes a small part of what was north-western Yorkshire). Lake District history goes much further back than that, though. This is a region which during the past two thousand years has been fought over by Romans, Vikings, Welsh, Scots and English. Many of its ancient traditions and place names are Scandinavian, passed down from invaders settling here more than a thousand years ago.

Crummock Water

Most of Cumbria’s ancient people settled around its fringes, the central core of the county being made up of mountains and lakes with rivers flowing out in all directions, and the same is true today. For more than two hundred years now, especially since the development of modern tourism, the descendants of those early settlers supplemented by many more who have moved into the region have welcomed visitors to enjoy its spectacular beauty.

Crummock Water

Lake District Weather

The Lake District weather can be beautiful. It can also be atrocious; but that’s how it comes to possess its character. Without the water how could we have the lakes? And in every kind of weather mountain, river, lake and meadow combine to produce a unique and constantly changing beauty. I’ve luxuriated in warm sunshine on a hillside overlooking Crummock Water in July, and I’ve wrapped up warm for a walk to Watendlath near Derwentwater on a dull New Year’s Day morning. Weather and time of year need be no barrier to enjoyment but do walk safely.

Windermere on a cloudy day

How to get there

Wherever you are in the world just now, if in the future you have the opportunity to come to the UK don’t make the big mistake of visiting only cities like London, Edinburgh and York. Catch a train from London Euston and get up into the Lake District hills for a few days. Here on Around-England we provide easy links to train and hotel booking systems to make your planning your visit so much easier. Take the train to Kendal or Windermere; alternatively you might want to leave the train at Preston or Carlisle, pick up a hire-car and drive the last part of way. Organise it in advance.

Lakes outside the Lake District

Initial notes on Rutland Water and Kielder Water were included on our old site as these are the two largest man-made lakes not only in Britain but in the whole of Western Europe. They compete with one another for the top place as one is the larger in surface area and other in volume of water. (The links above take you to the old site).

That’s an quick introduction. There’s much more to explore Around-England site and blog, and even more in the Lake District itself.

Evening sail

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