The East distinctive area is predominantly rural and tranquil and has the lowest population of any of the distinctive areas. Glenridding / Patterdale is the largest settlement, with other smaller villages including Askham, Pooley Bridge and Penruddock.
The rugged and craggy high fells of Helvellyn, Fairfield and High Street are split by the two upland valleys of Ullswater and Haweswater / Lowther. Farmland fringes the north-eastern margin of the East area, which contrasts with the high fells.
Ullswater is one of the four navigable lakes in the National Park, whilst Haweswater is a reservoir providing water supplies for the North West of England.