Illustration for landscapes for everyone

What is the Lake District and what does it provide for you?

The Lake District (open map - select Policy 01) is both a National Park and World Heritage Site.

The Lake District is a National Park, protected because of its beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. It offers fantastic opportunities for recreation to support the nation’s health and wellbeing, and attracts millions of visitors each year to enjoy this unique example of a living working landscape. A requirement of being a National Park is to identify its ‘Special Qualities’, which combine to produce a landscape of remarkable beauty and distinctive character that is cherished and enjoyed by the nation. The ownership, purposes and duties of National Parks can be found on the History of National Parks page.

Public bodies, and statutory undertakers such as utility companies, when undertaking any activity which may have an impact on the designated area, have a duty to have regard to these purposes:

Purpose 1- To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.

Purpose 2 - To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public.

Our National Park Duty - To seek to foster the social and economic wellbeing of the local communities within the National Park in pursuit of our purposes.

World Heritage Sites are considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value to everyone – a place or building which is considered to have special importance for everyone, including future generations. They represent the most significant or exceptional examples of the world’s cultural and/or natural heritage. We work hard as a partnership to ensure harmony between the National Park designation and World Heritage Site inscription, compromising and taking a balanced approach when required to ensure we look after the Lake District.

The Lake District was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2017 as a cultural landscape. UNESCO’s World Heritage Site details our Statement of Outstanding Universal Value which we should use to help us understand and make decisions about the Lake District. Since inscription we have agreed the attributes and components of Outstanding Universal Value. Whilst every attribute of Outstanding Universal Value can sit within the Special Qualities not all Special Qualities elements are an attribute of Outstanding Universal Value. Further information about the English Lake District World Heritage Site is contained within the English Lake District World Heritage Site Nomination Dossier.

The Lake District provides many crucial services for our local communities, businesses and visitors, and includes the provision of food and water, carbon storage, clean air, flood regulation, aesthetic value, inspiration, heritage and opportunities for recreation. The natural world, its biodiversity and its ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic prosperity; they underpin our very existence. This Plan sets out to ensure that the public benefits the natural and historic (and/or cultural) environment of the Lake District provides continue to deliver for future generations. As the UK population continues to grow, the pressure on these precious resources will increase, accentuated by the impact of climate change.

Interesting facts about the Lake District

Interesting facts about the Lake District. Click image for a larger version, or read a text-version of the facts here.

The Lake District is important to different people in different ways. The summary of the Lake District in numbers demonstrates the wealth of history and heritage, amount of land, water and habitat, communities who live in the Lake District, and the importance of tourism and recreation for people’s health and wellbeing.

Other facts

The Lake District in numbers. Click image for a larger version, or read a text-version of the numbers here.

It comes as no surprise that the Lake District is the most popular UK National Park - an article in 2020 identified the Lake District as being amongst the most Instagrammed National Parks in the world with over 2.5 million mentions for #lakedistrict.

  • Road biking in Langdale - Go Lakes

    Road biking in Langdale - Go Lakes

  • Couple at Cockshoot Point, Bowness - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

    Couple at Cockshoot Point, Bowness - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

  • Lake Alive festival - Pete Carr

    Lake Alive festival - Pete Carr

  • Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth museum

    Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth museum.

  • Windermere jetty museum

    Windermere jetty museum.

  • Sunset at Crummock Water.

With five out of the top 10 favourite routes in Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks found in the Lake District, the coast to coast cycle route passing through and many events and challenges it’s no surprise the Lake District is a focal point for outdoor adventure.

It’s not all outdoor adventure, with the Lake District featuring in many of the best UK literary location lists complementing the arts and cultural offer.