Lake District marks first year as World Heritage Site

Published on: 09 Jul 2018


One year on from the momentous day in Krakow when the English Lake District became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the organisations behind the successful bid are celebrating the achievements to date and looking to the opportunities that lie ahead.

On 9 July 2017 the Lake District joined some of the world’s most iconic locations, including Hadrian’s Wall and the Taj Mahal, receiving international acclaim as a world-class cultural landscape. This followed a bid for World Heritage Site (WHS) status which was driven by the 25 organisations that help manage the National Park through the Lake District National Park Partnership.

In the twelve-months that followed, a light has been shone on the Lake District through government and royal visits, new regional schemes and successful funding bids throughout the National Park.

Stephen Henwood, Chair of the Lake District National Park Partnership said: “We’re celebrating a fantastic first year of WHS status. It’s been encouraging to see businesses, farmers and residents starting to embrace the opportunities this inscription brings and seeing the influence it has already had on government funding and regional schemes. It’s just what we hoped for.”

“However, while we’ve set in place some strong foundations for the future, we must not be complacent about the action needed to grasp the potential benefits that World Heritage could bring.

“We need to continue to work collectively to ensure the Lake District retains a greater relevance in the thinking of the UK government, using WHS to argue for support, both financial and policy, ranging from post-Brexit farming to support to the tourism sector.

“I’d also like to see more local businesses and organisations use the new World Heritage brand in their marketing to raise their profile and drive new business. The inscription is not an automatic cash prize; it is an opportunity for us all.”

  • A timeline of the Lake District World Heritage Site achievements:
  • July 2017: The news of the Lake District’s inscription was announced by UNESCO in Krakow and celebrated worldwide. Visitors and residents of the Lake District joined a ‘picnic in the park’ to mark the occasion.
  • August 2017: The Lake District National Park and National Trust appointed new farming officers to work with farmers in the World Heritage Site
  • Summer 2017: guided bike rides took place across the 13 valleys of the Lake District, helping visitors and locals find out more
  • September 2017: Royal Mail launched Lake District World Heritage postmark reaching millions of Royal Mail customers.
  • October 2017: The then Arts, Heritage & Tourism minister, John Glen MP, headed to Cumbria to visit the newly designated Lake District World Heritage Site. He said: “World Heritage status was the culmination of years of dedication and it has been fantastic to see how local people and businesses are working together to capitalise on this achievement and raise the profile of the Lakes around the world."
  • January 2018: Contemporary arts festival Lakes Ignite announced six specially commissioned artworks in celebration of the Lake District’s designation as a World Heritage Site.
  • March 2018: HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Lake District to unveil its official UNESCO World Heritage plaque at the National Trust’s Crow Park in Keswick. His Royal Highness explained: "To me, it is something of a triumph that this traditional land use continues to this day, even in the face of severe social, economic and environmental pressures. As we stand looking out over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale, the importance of the link between human activity and landscape could not be clearer."
  • March 2018: a £3.29 million funding was granted for World Heritage Lake District arts project; led by Lakeland Arts and the Wordsworth Trust, following government’s backing for Cumbria Arts projects.
  • March 2018: Lake District secured involvement in a pilot grant scheme to provide farmers and land owners funding for historic farm building restoration.
  • July 2018: Cumbria Tourism announced the ‘Northern World Heritage Collection’ - a major project to help attract international visitors to World Heritage Sites across the North of England, supported by the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund

Looking ahead, a new English Lake District World Heritage Site brand has been developed collaboratively by the Partnership’s Marketing Group. This will be made available for all organisations, businesses and communities to use to help them make the most of UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It will be made available to the Partnership from July, followed by an official launch in September 2018.

Three themes which underpinned the Lake District’s bid for World Heritage Site status; identity, inspiration and conservation, have been the focus of the Lake District National Park Partnership, the group of 25 organisations who work together to steer the vision of the Lake District.

Research by the county’s tourism body, Cumbria Tourism, has highlighted some of the initial successes generated through the World Heritage Site status and shows the potential for further application of the global status in years to come. The aim is not about attracting just more visitors, but encouraging our current visitors to stay longer and spend more in local businesses.

  1. By March this year a fifth of tourism businesses (20 per cent) said that the Lake District achieving World Heritage Site Status has already had a positive effect on business.
  2. Going forward, two thirds of businesses (68 per cent) think that World Heritage Site status will have a positive impact on their business – 59 per cent a slight impact and 8 per cent a significant impact – up from 55 per cent six months ago.
  3. 54 per cent already plan to use the WHS status to attract visitors.

Businesses and organisations are invited to use the free World Heritage Site brand toolkit at:

Photo shows: Ennerdale Valley looking west to the coast of the Irish Sea.
Copyright: Andrew Locking

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