Central and South East Distinctive Area

About the area

The central and south east area is the most highly developed, populated and visited part of the National Park. It has a diverse landscape ranging from the Kent Estuary through well wooded lowlands to valleys, lakes and into the mountainous heart of the National Park, offering a variety of experiences. It contains the towns of Windermere, Bowness, Ambleside, Grasmere and Staveley and the villages of Elterwater / Chapel Stile, Troutbeck, Troutbeck Bridge, Crosthwaite, Witherslack and Lindale.

Windermere, lies at the heart of this area. There are hotels and attractions along the length of the lake, and the upland valleys house living communities and are popular, especially with outdoor enthusiasts. Langdale and Grasmere attract the majority of attention; Kentmere and Longsleddale are less developed and offer greater tranquillity. The southern part of the area includes the villages of Crosthwaite, Witherslack and Lindale. This part of the area is lower lying, with a generally quiet character.

Your Area Rangers, Marian Jones and David Switzer

Get in touch with either David or Marian to talk about local initiatives, potential projects, Community Fund applications, access and recreation queries or for more information about any aspect of the Lake District National Park Authority's work.

Please use the map below to see who to contact.

Get in touch

Map showing contact details for Central and South East area.

Key information 

Community fund information

A fund has been created for projects which are led by, or of benefit to, the resident communities of the Lake District National Park. There is a total of £12,500 available each financial year. Grants of up to £2,500 for each of the five Distinctive Areas within the National Park will be awarded on a competitive basis, so please talk to us as early as possible.

Since the fund was launched, we have awarded over £50,000 in the Central and South East Area and last year we funded the following projects:

  • £2,785 to the South Cumbria Rivers Trust for gathering baseline data for the Kent catchment prior to delivery of physical works under the Cumbria Strategic Floods Partnership.
  • £500 to the Cumberland & Westmorland Wrestling Association to help host the European Youth Championships of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling.
  • £750 to Cumbria Action for Sustainability for Cumbria Green Build Festival’s Northern and Central Lakes.
  • £3,000 to the Westmorland Red Squirrel Society for red squirrel conservation.

If you have a possible project, or for further information on the fund, its purposes and eligibility please follow this link:

Lake District Communities Fund

Key updates and news

Take a look at what's going in and around the Central and South East Distinctive area.

Orrest Head Access Improvement Project

Summit viewpoint and interpretation board commemorating Wainwright’s first visit

We have recently completed the first phase of a project to improve access to Orrest Head, one of the Lake District’s most iconic viewpoints.  This spot was much loved by the famous writer Alfred Wainwright, as it gave him his first-ever view over the Lake District mountains.

Work was carried out on an old carriageway that winds its way up through Elleray Wood and was originally used by horse and cart to take Victorian tourists to near the summit. This carriageway was completely buried by soil and leaf litter so we have cleared it off and have now re-surfaced around 700 metres of the route, and designated it as a footpath. The route has a low gradient – horse and carriages don’t like steep hills - so re-instating it will enable less-able walkers to access Orrest Head by missing out the existing steep and rocky footpath.

Removing leaf litter and soil from old carriageway at Elleray Woods Re-resurfaced section of path to Orrest Head

The work has been carried out in partnership with Windermere Town Council, South Lakeland District Council, and thanks to the kindness of an agricultural tenant who gave up a piece of his land  for the route. Ultimately, we hope to be able to continue the route all the way to the summit which would provide a rare opportunity for less-able users to get to the top of a Lakeland fell. We will continue to work to secure the necessary landowner agreement and funding.  

If you wish to donate to help us complete this route you can do so via this link: Donate to Orrest Head and Elleray Wood access improvements project

Lake District route improved for all abilities

People of all abilities can now enjoy a smoother way to take in spectacular views across Windermere, thanks to National Park rangers upgrading a new path at Bowness.

Lake District National Park (LDNP) has worked with its partners, United Utilities and the National Trust, to improve the path, allowing wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs to get through with little effort from the Glebe to Cockshott Point in Bowness-On-Windermere. Bi-directional gates were installed making it possible for people to easily open the gates both ways. Locals and visitors can benefit from this 600 metre path, which now qualifies as an accessible for all Miles without Stiles route.

Graham Standring, area ranger at LDNP says:

“It’s very important for us to keep people safe when enjoying the outdoors and provide routes for all abilities. We took the opportunity to improve this alternative route, with minimum disruption, when United Utilities were laying new sewage pipes under an existing nearby path.  The path is now complete so we want people to come along, try it for themselves, and enjoy the superb views of Windermere.”

Walkers enjoying the Glebe to Cockshott Point path.

For more information visit: http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/thingstodo/walking/mileswithoutstiles/mws5

Flood Recovery update

Since Storm Desmond struck in December 2015 it would be fair to say we’ve been very busy!

Immediately following the floods, we quickly surveyed and prioritised those areas most affected, and found:

  • missing or damaged bridges were in need of replacement or significant repair
  • public paths had surface damage, undercutting or were lost to river action
  • paths had damaged pieces of access furniture, such as gates, stiles, and signposts

All of this left us with a repair bill of £5.8million!

Wain Lane near Troutbeck

After a great deal of preparatory work we were delighted in November 2016 to announce a £3 million grant for ‘Routes to Resilience’, our 21-month flood recovery programme. This funding has come from the Rural Payments Agency’s ‘Cumbria Countryside Access Fund’, using funding from the European Rural Development Programme.

In the Central and South East area we certainly have our fair share of work. In 2016 we carried out vital repairs to a few of the most important sites, such as replacing the Badger Bar bridge at Rydal, at a cost of £23,000 (of which £11,500 was kindly donated by the Friends of the Lake District).

Dipper Bridge at Rydal

Since then we have been costing, writing specifications, seeking consents, writing work programmes and taking on, and training, new staff to deliver this project. You will now start to see them working in the areas of the National Park most badly affected, and we will post regular updates to show the work in progress.

For more information see our web page: Cumbrian floods

Lime Kiln Clearance

Our Archaeology volunteers have recently carried out clearance work around two of the historic lime kilns that are dotted around the limestone areas of the Lake District.

The kilns were used to produce the chemical compound lime which has had a major role in shaping the Lake District, by sweetening acidic soils and improving fertility so fells could be turned into farmland. It was also used to whitewash houses, bind and render stonework and to decorate walls and chimneys. There is more information here: Limekilns

The two kilns, both near to Witherslack, had become very overgrown with ivy, and young trees. Without intervention, the stonework would soon have been damaged, and eventually the growth would cause the kiln walls to partially or totally collapse.  

Both the kilns had also become nearly invisible from the adjacent footpaths, but they are now visible and once again a clear reminder of this historic process.

Cat Crag lime kiln before vegetation clearance Cat Crag lime kiln after vegetation clearance

Castle Crag kiln before and after our volunteers cleared the overgrown vegetation - what a difference!