Name: Lake District National Park
Date Established: 1951
Size: 885 square miles (2,292 square kilometers)
Did You Know?
• England's Largest This storybook realm of hills, stonewalled fields, forests, whitewashed cottages, and clear waters is England’s largest national park. In fact, the Lake District covers about one percent of all the land area in Great Britain.
• Popular Destination The charms of this region have long attracted notables from across the isles and throughout British society. Literary legend William Wordsworth even published a Guide to the Lakes in 1810.
• Top Peaks Hill walkers take note: The Lake District is home to England’s highest peaks, and Scafell Pike tops the list at 3,210 feet (978 meters). These mountains, known locally as “fells,” may be modest compared with the world’s great ranges but their beauty is certainly worthy of lofty standing.
• Deepest Lake, Wettest Place As its name suggests, the Lake District offers plenty of opportunity to get one’s feet wet. Wastwater is the deepest lake in all of England at 243 feet (74 meters). The park is also home to England’s wettest inhabited place—about 140 inches (356 centimeters) of rain falls on Seathwaite each year.
• Rich Heritage The Lake District boasts a rich cultural heritage that spans the centuries from prehistoric times to the present day. More than 6,000 archaeological sites and monuments are listed, including 5,000-year-old stone circles, Roman roads, and classic country estates.
• Living History More than 40,000 people live in the Lake District, and they cherish some unique cultural traditions. Men lock horns in Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, which dates to the Viking era, and dogs are turned loose to compete in long-distance “hound trailing” runs along a trail of scented aniseed. The local fare is also especially appetizing, from Cumberland sausage to rum butter and the plum-like damson fruit.
• Norse Names Maps of the Lake District are dotted with terms bestowed by the area’s tenth century A.D. Norse settlers. Thus the district’s famed lakes are often called “tarns,” streams become “becks,” valleys are dubbed “dales,” and clearings are known as “thwaites.”
How to Get There
The nearest airports to the park are Manchester (1.5 hours south by car) and Glasgow. Drivers can reach the Lake District from London in about five hours, and nearly 90 percent of all Lake District visitors come by private vehicle. Public transport offers another appealing option, however, and many tourists arrive by train at Windermere, Kendal, or Staveley.
When to Visit
The mean temperature in Ambleside is 59ºF (15ºC) in July and just 38ºF (3.3ºC) in January. Weather is at its mildest in summer but crowds are at their biggest—particularly on pleasant weekends. As for events, there is something happening nearly year-round in the Lake District.
How to Visit
Many visitors motor about the park independently and buses connect the Lake District communities, particularly in summer when routes are more frequent. But the park offers some great opportunities to stretch one’s legs by cycling or lacing up a pair of walking shoes. The Lake District is home to an incredible 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) of public rights of way, and Cumbria Tourism estimates that eight million walkers take advantage of these paths each year.