The Lake District is one of England’s most scenic and well-known areas. So what exactly is Lake District known for?
Below we’ll explore some fascinating facts about England’s Lake District, a region beloved by poets and artists alike!
Table of Contents
General Facts about the Lake District
- The Lake District is a scenic region of Northwest England occupying 2,362 km2 (912 mi2), similar in size to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, USA.
- As the name suggests, the area has many lakes. There are over 30 lakes, reservoirs, and tarns larger than 0.1 km2 in the Lake District.
- The Lake District is also known as The Lakes or Lakeland.
- In the past, the Lake District was divided between three English counties: Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire. Today it’s entirely within Cumbria, a county formed in 1974.
- The Lake District is a popular tourist attraction, with almost 15.8 million visitors every year who come to enjoy the scenery and peaceful surroundings.
- Just over 40,000 people live in Lake District, giving it a population density of only 17 people per square kilometer (44 per square mile), 335 times less dense than that of London.
Random Fun Facts about Lake District
- Because it rains a lot in Lake District, the locals have several words to refer to different types of rain. For example, “mizzling” refers to drizzling rain, while “stotting” is really heavy rain.
- The first pencil was invented in Lake District. The graphite mine at Seathwaite allowed people to make the first pencils, and the evolution of the stationery industry in the area is exhibited at the Pencil Museum in Keswick.
- Fine dining is possible in Lake District, as it’s home a handful Michelin star and recommended restaurants.
- In the 1970s, the first sticky toffee pudding was invented in Lake District. It’s made of light sponge cake and figs. The pudding is then smothered in toffee sauce.
- Lake District’s famous and distinctive Cumberland sausage is currently listed on the official protected foods list. It was traditionally made of the Cumberland pig, which went extinct in the 1960s.
- The multi-award-winning Grasmere Gingerbread, considered by some to be the world’s best gingerbread, was invented in Lake District by Sarah Nelson in 1854. Her secret recipe is still followed, and the bread attracts foodies from all over the world.
- Although damsons (a small plum-like fruit) grow all around England, the ones grown in Lake District have a unique flavor due to the perfect climate in Cumbria. There’s an annual county fair to celebrate the deliciousness of this fruit, where it’s used to make jam, chutneys, and gin.
- In about 100 AD, the Romans reached Lake District and started building roads to protect the northernmost part of the Roman Empire.
- High Street is a 2,000 years old street that the Romans built in Lake District. It’s believed to follow the line of a much older prehistoric path.
- The remains of the Hardknott Roman Fort can still be visited in Lake District today.
- Norse people used to live in the Lake District area. This is why most places have names of Nordic origin like fell, thwaite, and dale.
- Haweswater Reservoir was built in 1929 to provide drinking water to people who lived in the northwestern towns. To construct a dam to build this reservoir, two villages, Mardale Green and Measand had to be drowned.
- In times of drought and when the water levels are low in Haweswater, the remains of Mardale Green and Measand’s buildings can be seen.
- Donald Campbell and his Bluebird K7 sank to the bottom of Coniston Water as he was trying to break the water speed record.
- The A591 road between Keswick and Kendal has been dubbed England’s best road for driving, mathematically, thanks to its perfect combination of turns and straight stretches, by quantum physicist Dr Mark Hadley.
- Driving along the Hardknott Pass in Eskdale is considered extremely challenging as it’s one of England’s steepest roads, with a maximum gradient of one in three.
- The old Solway Junction Railway in Lake District was damaged by bad weather. It was finally removed in 1934 due to the high number of car accidents as people returned to Scotland after having drinks on Sundays.
- There’s a yearly competition at the Bridge Inn in Santon Bridge where one can become the “world’s biggest liar.” The tradition goes back to the inn’s landlord, who was a great storyteller and eventually convinced his guests that there were turnips around the area big enough to be used as cowsheds.
- Pulling a silly face, also known as gurning, is considered an art in Egremont. This is where the World Gurning Competition takes place every year.
Facts about Lake District National Park
- The Lake District National Park was designated a national park in 1951 and is the most visited and second-largest national park in the UK, after The Cairngorms in Scotland.
- Lake District National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
- The national park covers most (but not all) of the Lake District. A few Lake District coastal areas, Lakeland Peninsula, and the town of Kendal are not in the national park, while some areas not traditionally considered the Lake District have been included in the national park.
- The deepest natural lake in England, Wast Water (or Wastwater), at 79 m (258 ft), is in Lake District. It was formed by the movement of glaciers.
- Wast Water was voted as Britain’s Favorite View in 2007 because of what is known as the Screes. These are rock fragments that protrude from the lake’s bottom.
- Lake District National Park is also home to the largest natural lake in England, Windermere, which is over 18 km (11 mi) long and almost 1 mile at its widest.
- The water in Windermere accumulated about 13,000 years ago during the Last Ice Age.
- There are 18 islands in Windermere. The largest one, Belle Island, is privately owned.
- Derwent Island is the only inhabited island in Lake District, and is open to visitors only 5 days a year. As of 2022, the Derwent Island House is closed to the public.
- Although there are several water bodies and reservoirs in Lake District, only Bassenthwaite Lake can be accurately classified as a lake. It’s also the only one that holds this name, whereas most of the other water bodies are called waters, tarns, or reservoirs instead.
- Lake District National Park features 2160 km (1342 mi) of walking trails.
- Mammals including wolves and bears lived in Lake District thousands of years ago, when the area was mostly forested.
- Lake District National Park is home to England’s five highest peaks.
- Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, at a height of 978 m (3209 ft) above sea level, is found in Lake District National Park.
- Scafell Pike is also England’s highest war memorial.
- England’s tallest Grand Fir tree is found along the Ambleside Champion Tree Trail in the Lake District National Park.
- Seathwaite in Borrowdale is the wettest place in England, as it receives about 3 meters of rain every year.
- Lake District National Park is home to the largest population of red squirrels in England.
Literary Facts about Lake District
- The Lake District was commonly mentioned in English literature in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, inspiring many poets and writers.
- The famous poet William Wordsworth was born (1770) close to Lake District and wrote his famous poems about nature inspired by the areas’ scenic views of the lakes, mountains, and valleys. He also wrote the Guide through the District of the Lakes (1835), which was later used to promote tourism in the area.
- Lake District is mentioned in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), when Elizabeth Bennet said that she was looking forward to spending a holiday there.
- Beatrix Potter spent most of her summer holidays as a child in Lake District. This is where she got the inspiration for her famous book The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901).
- Arthur Ransome moved to Lake District later in his life, where the beautiful setting inspired him to write his famous children’s books series, Swallows and Amazons (1930).
- Alfred Wainwright greatly impacted the region’s popularity, thanks to the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells (1965), which he wrote and illustrated to describe the fells and water bodies in Lake District.
- Painters Alfred Heaton Cooper and William Heaton Cooper portrayed the Lakes in much of their artwork.