West lakes

West Distinctive Area

From the high fells to the shining sea, the Western Lake District is a land of contrasts. It has scenic beauty in abundance from wild and rugged mountains through to intimate farmed landscapes and 26 miles of Cumbrian coast.

The character of the majority of this area of the National Park is remote with small, scattered communities in contrast to the busier valleys to the east. The population of the area is relatively small, just over 4,000 people, and the four main valleys that make up the Western Lakes are Ennerdale, Wasdale, Eskdale and the Duddon; each distinct in character, each a hidden gem.

Ennerdale is the most westerly of all the Lake District valleys and though much modified by human activity in the form of forestry, water extraction and farming, it is the large scale natural features of the valley that impose themselves and create an overriding sense of isolation, wildness and tranquillity.

Wasdale is a valley of contrasts with the imposing bulk and dramatic landform of Great Gable, Scafell, Kirk Fell and Yewbarrow enclosing the head of the valley which then runs south west and abruptly changes to a more gentle, wooded, pastoral landscape. The eastern part of the valley is amongst the most wild and dramatic scenery in the UK including, 79m deep Wastwater, England’s deepest, and 977m high Scafell Pike, Englan’d highest.

From these lofty heights Eskdale runs south-west to the sea through a changing landscape representing the full range of scenery associated with the progression of a river from a cascading upland beck to a fast flowing river in its mid-section then meandering slowly over the coastal plain to the open, tidal landscapes of the river estuary. The valley of the River Duddon runs south-west to an expansive estuary. Two of England’s, highest mountain road passes descend the watershed at the heads of the Eskdale and (Little) Langdale valleys joining from opposite directions to meet at  Cockley Beck where a minor road then follows the course of the river down the Duddon Valley, also known as Dunnerdale.

Contact details for your local team 

Rowing on Grasmere © Dave Willis

Your Area Ranger Rec Cathey

Rec is the Area Ranger for the Western Lake District. Please get in touch with Rec if you have any queries or enquiries about our work in the West or community fund applications.

Contact details

You can contact Rec with any general enquiries relating to the West Lake District.

Tel: 01539 792654 | Mobile: 07990 603830
E-mail rec.cathey@lakedistrict.gov.uk

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. Find out more about the community fund.

Grants so far: West Distinctive Area

What else can you see and do in the West

Access to the West Project - Map for partner organisations


Map of Lake District areas showing contact details for Area Rangers and Planners

distinctive areas

Duddon Furnace Temporary Closure

Please note: There have been several recent movements in the stonework of the furnace buildings.
To ensure public safety we have reluctantly decided to close this site to public access on a temporary basis.
We are receiving specialist advice on the safety of the buildings and will be working to re-open the area as soon as possible. The furnace and buildings can still be viewed from the public bridleway, but please do not enter the fenced area around the buildings, where the gates are now locked.

Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause.

Key updates & news

Take a look at what's going in and around the West Lake District:

Beach Cleans

beach clean 

We hold beach cleans on the last Friday of every month. The West Coast has some marvellous coastline and we alternate between Ravenglass, Drigg and Silecroft. Come along and get involved and contact Mike (07810 657061) for more details.

Work parties

work party

The first Thursday of the month is our Western work party day. Come along and get involved in a variety of countryside tasks; from walling and fencing to tree planting and footpath repair, there’s something for everybody and every age. To find out how you can get involved, contact Mike (07810 657061).

Three Peaks Challenge

three peaks

Three Peaks Partnership

3 Peaks Partnership - The Three Peaks Partnership is made up of the organisations and charities responsible for managing the three mountains on which the Challenge takes place; Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdonia. Up to 30-40,000 people take part in the Challenge every year and unfortunately in recent years poorly planned groups have had a huge negative impact on these mountains.Don’t be part of this unpopular minority! Find out how to plan and register your challenge and get detailed advice and handy local tips and updates.

Bridges in Blengdale Forest


Working with the Forestry Commission and the local community, two new bridges were built in Blengdale Forest, providing vital missing links to the network of footpaths and bridleways in the Forest. One of the bridges is over 60 feet long, and is the largest bridge ever installed by the National Park. Each one had to be specially designed and was prefabricated in steel sections small enough to be transported to this remote location, and bolted then together on site.The bridges have opened up parts of the forest which were previously all but unreachable, and have provided a number of circular walk options.

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