Ullswater - copyright Andrew Locking

World Heritage Knowledge

Understanding the Lake District World Heritage Site

This combination of slides and script gives you the opportunity to dig deeper into the English Lake District World Heritage Site in some depth and build your knowledge and understanding.

Click on this image to launch the slides or download them here.

Short Introduction to The English Lake District World Heritage Site

Slide 1: Introduction

This presentation provides a higher level of understanding of the English Lake District World Heritage story. The slides and the script have been developed to be read or delivered together.

Slide 2: UNESCO & World Heritage

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

The most significant feature of the 1972 World Heritage Convention is that it links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.

It was the building of the Aswan Dam in Egypt that was the catalyst for World Heritage. The dam’s development would have meant the loss of Abu Simbel ancient Egyptian temple. UNESCO managed to raise ~$50m from members of the UN to take the temple down and rebuild it away from the proposed reservoir. As a result of this action, the World Heritage Convention was drafted and World Heritage Sites started to be inscribed.

Heritage is the planet’s legacy from the past, what is lived with today, and what is passed on to future generations. Its cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. UNESCO use World Heritage as a means to promote peace and cooperation amongst countries as WHSs belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

Slide 3: World Heritage Sites

There are four types of World Heritage Site – Natural, Cultural, Mixed and Cultural Landscape.

The slide shows how many WHSs exist currently by category, roughly 1100 in total. The World Heritage Committee meets every year to review and comment on existing WHSs and to assess new applications. They inscribe ~20-30 new WHSs each year.

Slide 4: Examples of Natural WHSs

The slide shows examples of Natural WHSs. These examples show the scale and significance of Natural world heritage sites; the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on the planet; the Amazon Basin is the most biodiverse place on the planet; the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in the US has more trees in one NP than whole of Europe – hopefully this gets across what level of significance is required to be a Natural WHS.

In UK, our mainland natural WHSs are both geological – the Jurassic Coast and Giant’s Causeway; there are no ‘wild/natural’ WHSs on the mainland UK. The UK’s only two natural WHSs are overseas terratories and so remote that they are virtually untouched by humans and as such of such exemplar natural condition to warrant WH status.

Slide 5: Examples of Cultural WHSs

As can be seen from this slide, many Cultural WHSs are instantly recognisable.
For example Venice (though you’ll no longer see liners/cruisers in the Grand Canal; indication of the impact of tourists attracted to WHSs and the need and challenge to manage the impact of visitor numbers). The Taj and the Pyramids are global icons.

Cumbria has 2 WHSs; Hadrian’s Wall has been a WHS for 30+ years and not only stretches across the north of the county but continues as pockets down the west coast. Hadrian’s Wall is now part of a transnational WH that includes the Antoine Wall in Scotland and the Limes in Germany, and will in the future include others stretches in Holland, Hungary and more.

The small coastal village of Ravenglass is uniquely in both the English Lake District WHS and also the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS.

Slide 6: Examples of Mixed WHSs

Mixed WHSs are those that have both Cultural and Natural treasures.
An example is Machu Picchu - both an icon of Inca urban development but also an important tropical mountain rainforest.
The UK’s only mixed site is St Kilda – it is an important seabird sanctuary and site of centuries of human occupation on edge of survival.

Slide 7: Examples of Cultural Landscapes WHSs

Unlike the Mixed category where Nature and Culture attributes can exist separately, a Cultural Landscape demonstrates the evolving relationship between people and place; the official definition is that a Cultural Landscape WHS is “a landscape of the combined works of nature and humankind”.

First of the earliest Cultural Landscapes to be inscribed was the rice terraces in Philippines; from the slide you can see the obvious impact of people on the landscape.
This is the category we come under, and with which we are intrinsically linked – more on this next.

Slide 8: Pathway to inscription

It has been a long time in the making; over 30 years. In the early 80s, the Lake District twice submitted nominations and on both occasions were deferred by UNESCO. They acknowledged the Lakes were special but felt that we didn’t fit the categories that existed at the time. At the time there were only three categories – Natural, Cultural and Mixed. They also thought that at that time, the Lakes didn’t have a fit for purpose management structure; stakeholders were not sufficiently working together at the time.

UNESCO created the fourth Cultural Landscape category in the early 90s, as a direct consequence of the earlier Lake District’s applications.

However WH status only became back on the Lake District’s radar following Foot & Mouth and its impact on the rural economy. WHS was once again seen as a way of providing means of competitive advantage, sustaining the natural/cultural assets, and supporting the economy and communities.

With the Lake District National Park Partnership established, the Lakes once again submitted a nomination via the government (the State Party) and we became a WHS on 9th July 2017. The World Heritage Committee met at Krakow, and after around 20 minutes discussion, agreed to inscribe the Lakes.

Slide 9: What is the English Lake District WHS?

It’s the UK’s 31st and largest; it is the only UK WHS that is also a NP. Physically it follows the 1951 National Park boundary and has no buffer zone around. Buffer zones are used by WHSs to protect them from developments that occur outside the WHS but that may have an impact on the WHS. This protective function is covered by the surrounding local authorities and their planning regulations.

The Lake District is big and complicated, geographically and politically. The slide shows some stats that illustrate that. For example about 25% of the WHS is protected under nature designations. It has a permanent population of ~40,000, but a temporary tourist population of ~19m.

The English Lake District WHS can be divided into 13 separate valleys.

Slide 10: How are WHSs selected?

UNESCO have ten criteria against which prospective WHSs are judged. If you meet a number of these, you may be considered. UNESCO has experts in Culture and Nature who assess nominations. For Culture there is ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and for Nature the experts are IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

If these bodies decide that a nomination meets some of UNESCO’s criteria, you are then deemed to have Outstanding Universal Value. The official definition is: “Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to ‘transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity’.

A WHS has only one OUV. The OUV also covers the whole of the Lake District. So any impact in one part of the Lakes would have an impact on the whole WHS.

Slide 11: The Lake District’s OUV

The Lakes’ OUV comprises 3 interrelated attributes or themes. They are in essence:

* Identity – it is a landscape shaped by people
* Inspiration – that the landscape has in turn shaped us, how we look at and relate to landscapes
* Conservation – the Lake District is the birthplace of global landscape conservation movement

The official definitions are:

* Identity - a landscape of exceptional beauty, shaped by persistent and distinctive agro-pastoral traditions and local industry which give it special character
* Inspiration - a landscape which has inspired artistic and literary movements and generated ideas about landscapes that have had global influence and left their physical mark
* Conservation - a landscape which has been the catalyst for key developments in the national and international protection of landscapes

Not all valleys will demonstrate each attribute of OUV fully. Some valleys will have better examples of OUV than others. The following slides visually demonstrate what these attributes mean.

Slide 12: Identity - natural ‘canvas’

The Lake District’s stunning mountains, valleys and lakes are not why it is a WHS. The physical landscape is the natural ‘canvas’ upon which people have worked and lived. The Identity attribute is the product of ‘the combined works of people and nature’ stretching back at least 1000 years.

Slide 13: Identity – artefacts

Humans have interacted with the Lake District’s landscape for millennium. Neolithic man, Romans, Vikings, Normans etc have all have left their mark on the landscape but their artefacts are as such fragments of history.

Slide 14: Identity – last 1000 years

The Lake District’s WHS story starts around 1000 years ago, with the development and establishing of a system of traditional farming, a distinctive, unrivalled and unique example of a northern European upland agro-pastoral farming based on the rearing of cattle and native breeds of sheep. It is the adaption of living and working within the constraints of a spectacular and challenging mountain setting. The system established is characterised by enclosed farmland on the valley floors (inbye) and lower valley sides (intakes), with open grazing on the uplands (common land).

This slide shows the classic farmed landscape of Langdale.

Slide 15: Identity – farm buildings

‘The English Lake District settlement pattern of individual farms with their distinctive farm houses and other buildings and small farming hamlets’ is one of the key elements of the agro-pastoral landscape. Their distinctive architecture has evolved to suit their situation in this challenging upland landscape environment and has over time responded to changing social, economic and cultural forces.

In some cases buildings established prior to the later-16th and 17th century have been adopted for use as farmhouses; hunting box converted to use as farmhouses, deer parks given over to stock grazing, and pele houses extended.

What you start to see is the classic typical white Lake District farm buildings.

Slide 16: Identity – farm buildings

The typical and characteristic architecture of agricultural Lake District extends beyond the farmsteads. For example there are two-storey bank barns, stone field barns and ‘Hogg Houses’, all contributing to the unique Lakeland landscape.

Slide 17: Identity – internal and external details

The Lake District’s traditional farming characteristics extend into the details founds in and around farms. Outside you may see the likes of round chimneys, crow steps on the roofs and date stones above the doorways. Inside there can be found salt niches and spice cupboards, all adding to the uniqueness of the Lakes.

Slide 18: Identity – vernacular features

The bold and distinctive forms of vernacular farming architecture are echoed in the characterful and distinctive structures that appear dotted across the Lake District.

Dotted across the landscape are packhorse bridges, water smoots (gaps in walls where they cross streams), bee boles (holes in walls for straw bee hives) and drystone walls such as these shard fences.

Slide 19: Identity – intangible elements of farming traditions

It not only the physical aspects of upland farming that have left their mark on the landscape and contributed to the WH story. Farming traditions like the farming of native breeds (typically Herdwicks but also Rough Fell and Swaledales), hefting (how local sheep breeds are free to roam the open fell tops but genetically know where their home farm is and so don’t wander off), communal grazing and gathering (bringing in sheep in off the fell tops), smit marks (coloured dyes applied to sheep), and lug marks (cuts made into sheep ears to identify their home farm). The use of traditional skills like drystone walling, fleece shearing and hedge laying. The social aspects of Lakeland farming like sports days, agricultural shows and shepherds’ meets.

Slide 20: Identity – other industries have left their mark

It is not just farming that has made its mark on the landscape. The Lake District rich in stone and minerals and people have extracted these underground resources since Neolithic times. But since Elizabethan times extraction has been industrial and had major impacts on the landscape. Both Coniston and Keswick owe their existence to mining wealth. Copper, iron, graphite (or wad), slate and much more has been dug up.

The Lake District still has active quarrying that continues to shape the landscape.

Slide 21: Identity – other industries have left their mark

With so much mineral ore being produced, and so much woodland available to supply charcoal fuel, the Lake District developed an early iron industry with simple hand-powdered iron smelters, ‘Bloomsmithies’, ‘finary forges’ and finally blast furnaces. All of the major industries of Lakeland relied heavily upon the availability of timber or charcoal for fuel. To ensure a constant and sustainable supply the coppicing of woodland developed as a practice under the hand of the monasteries. Using coppiced woodland resources, bobbin production supplied the globally dominant Lancashire textile mills and the production of black powder at so called ‘gunpowder mills’ for use in mining and quarrying.

The last nine slides have demonstrated how people and their industrial activities shaped the Lake District landscape into what we see today.

The second theme is Inspiration, how in turn the landscape shaped people.

Slide 22: Inspiration – the Picturesque Movement

The Lake District has inspiring artists, writers and thinkers, who generated ideas about how we appreciate landscapes and how we relate to landscapes and nature.

Let’s set the scene…it’s the early 18th century, modern life is developing – industrialisation, urbanisation, innovation, class systems, and the Lake District is seen as some sort of awful place worth avoiding…in fact early visitor and renown author Daniel Defoe who came in 1724 described the area as "the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England”. He actually preferred Basingstoke!

In the 18th century a proper gentleman or gentlewoman would seek out the finer things in life – a trip to Europe or the Grand Tour would provide them exposure to its natural and cultural highlights and make them a better person. However circumstances in Europe were changing; war and revolution broke out so making visiting the continent dicey and to be avoided. Attention was drawn to what lay on the doorstep. Awareness of the north was growing and so the first travellers headed to the Lakes. But once there, they were unable to describe, articulate or comprehend the landscapes they came across and their emotions to them; the European pastoral ideals just didn’t fit in with the Lakes’ landscapes.

Cumbrian William Gilpin was one of the first to describe a new way of thinking and articulating these landscapes. This was the start of the Picturesque Movement. He also introduced the idea of travelling to personally experience these different sceneries and the reactions to them; a new way of enjoying beauty and a new way of describing it. There was roughness and irregularity to see, and dread, fear, awe to feel, or the Sublime. First to come to enjoy landscapes were poets, writers and artists, and their works inspired by the landscapes were reproduced across the country, building awareness of the Lake District.

And so the first wave of visitors to the Lake District began to arrive.

Slide 23: Inspiration – Guidebooks & Viewing Stations

Cumbrians started to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors coming to experience the Picturesque. Local Thomas West developed a series of perfect locations around a number of lakes where visitors were directed to stand and get the perfect Picturesque experience. These were his viewing stations; the most famous one can be seen on the slide, Claife on Windermere’s western shore. He also produced the first guidebook in 1778.

Visitors to viewing stations were encouraged to take in the scenes by using a mirror called a Claude Glass. Visitors would turn their backs to the scene and view it in the mirror. This could have been to experience the view in different seasons or weathers, an affect created by the smoked mirror, or perhaps because gazing directly upon the Sublime was too much for soul!

Slide 24: Inspiration – Villas & Designed Landscapes

Some of the early adopters of Picturesque were the well-off in the industrial north of England. They came and bought land in the Lake District, but not to develop, but to enjoy and in their eyes, to enhance. Upon the lands they bought, they started to build glorious villas, a trend that lasted for about 200 years.

As well as building houses they transformed the lands around their properties, again to improve the aesthetic qualities of their land. Examples of these designed landscapes include Tarn Hows near Coniston and Aira Force in Ullswater.

Many of these new landowners were influenced by one William Wordsworth, who himself had not the means to buy land, but who thinking most certainly influenced those who could.

Slide 25: Inspiration – Romanticism

William Wordsworth arrived back to his home county from his European travels in 1799. Following on from how the Picturesque Movement had developed a way of seeing and appreciating landscapes, Wordsworth evolved this thinking; how being in landscapes like the Lake District generated emotional reactions. This became the Romantic Movement.

Romanticism promoted a shift from experiencing rational reactions to a personal response, an emotive experience, and an individual response to the world around us. Here Wordsworth developed his ideas around self and self-discovery, through engaging with nature and landscapes. He saw the Lakes as an authentic place, a refuge from modernity, and it can be argued that today’s visitors still come to the Lakes to escape their daily lives.

Wordsworth also espoused the Lakes’ as a ‘national property’, regardless of landownership. These landscapes were for all to enjoy and benefit from. And that these landscapes should be valued and protected, thinking that was supported and furthered by his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge and avid follower John Ruskin.

Both the Picturesque and Romantic Movements have influenced thinking and actions across the planet.

Slide 26: Conservation – contested landscape

Slides 26 to 29 will show how the Lake District was the birthplace of a global conservation movement.

With Romanticism’s awaking of the public’s emotional connections to landscapes, came a sense within society that these landscapes were valued and should therefore be looked after. But this view was not necessarily shared by all. The Lake District thus became an arena and contested landscape for the debate around what the land should be used for; for commercial gain or for public good.

One of the first moments in the debate was around 1750. It concerned the felling of the oak woodland on Crow Park in Keswick by then landowners Greenwich Hospital. This sparked a wave of public regret that the trees had been felled for commercial gain, rather than left to stand for the enjoyment of all (the felling also opened up the classic Jaws of Borrowdale view, key in the development of the Picturesque).

This was ground zero for landscape conservation thinking.

Slide 27: Conservation - Developers vs. Conservationists

Over the next 250 years, the Lake District hosted other notable clashes between industrial developments like railway extensions, commercial forestry and reservoir building, and proponents of preserving landscapes.

Another example was the battle to stop the building of Thirlmere reservoir. Opposition was led by John Ruskin and though unsuccessful, instigated the formation of the Thirlmere Defence Association, which later evolved into the Friends of the Lake District.

The clash between developers and conservationists happens again and again, like ripples in time; Thirlmere only hosted such a clash in 2017 with the proposed zip wire development.

Slide 28: Conservation – landscape protection through legislation

The thinking of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin and others, and actions to fight developments that the Lake District was playing host to, lead to ideas of conservation that inspired others.

One of the founders of the concept of landscape protection via legislation, Ralph Waldo Emerson met with Wordsworth and Coleridge. Founding father of National Parks in the US John Muir was a keen follower of Ruskin and his environmental thinking. There is a direct lineage from the thinking and actions in the Lake District to the establishing of the National Parks. This means of landscape protection was to cross the Atlantic the following century and the Lake District became one of the first UK National Parks in 1951.

Slide 29: Conservation – landscape protection through ownership

The other model for landscape protection recognised as originating in the Lakes was through ownership.

Canon Rawnsley was living in Grasmere and was aware that many notable scenic locations in the Lakes like Grasmere Isle and Lodore Falls were up for sale and potential development, with the result being that they would be lost to the public forever. He realised there was the need for an organisation to be formed that would acquire and protect these beloved landscapes for the good of the public, and so the National Trust was formed in 1895.

Both these models of landscape conservation, National Parks and National Trusts, have their roots here in the Lake District, and have been duplicated across the world, so that there are now over 3,000 National Parks and 70+ National Trusts across the globe, looking after landscapes for future generations.

Slide 30: Managing the WHS – through a partnership

The WHS is managed through the Lake District National Park Partnership (LDNPP) which comprises 25 organisations and stakeholders from across all sectors within the Lakes, from public and private. The Partnership is committed to being a leading example of cultural landscape management. This means that the members/partners have to work closely together. They have a duty to discuss and share their visions and plans and not operate in isolation.

The Partnership is still finding its feet but is improving day by day. What is being better understood is that the challenges and opportunities that the Lake District face are best tackled working together; no one organisation can do this alone.

Slide 31: Managing the WHS – its governance

With the Lake District being such a large and complex site provides its own challenges when it comes to its management. Firstly who makes the decisions? The WHS’ governance is through established structures; a WHS Steering Group, making decisions and reporting up to the LDNPP, the county’s and Park’s leadership body. The WHS Steering Group is supported by a number of working groups – marketing, technical advisory group, fund raising, which are commissioned by the Steering Group to provide advice or to deliver WHS-focused projects. The business sector inputs to the WHS via the Business Task Force.

There is a single Management Plan – for both the WHS and the National Park together. There are work programmes and projects that are being developed and rolled out, to deliver the Management Plan’s objectives and goals.

There is also the need to monitor the WHS – ensuring that the attributes of OUV and hence our WHS status are not threatened, assessing impacts say from developments, tourism demands, local needs etc.

The WHS now has two full time people working for it – its Coordinator and Engagement Officer, supporting and reporting to the Steering Group and its working groups.

Slide 32: Managing the WHS - the benefits

* Organisations and stakeholders operating across the Lakes are now working closer together; this can only be a positive thing for the Lakes going forward
* WHS provides a platform for challenging and difficult conversations and discussions around the protection and management of the Lake District; the Lakes’ challenges face all its partners and by working together solutions can be found
* WH status provides a global spotlight, providing recognition, awareness and competitive advantage; WH is a stamp of quality recognised the world over
* The Lake District is expecting an increase in international visitors and revenues. No growth from domestic tourism is expected. WH status does motivate international visitors and by having this accolade will put the Lakes on many international visitors’ ‘to do’ list; growth from international visitors is seen as sustainable/more responsible – any additional visitor numbers will be low, and their stays longer, and their spend higher
* WH status does not come with funding; it is however a lever for funding. In 2014/15, 22 UK WHSs were recipients of £66m tourism income and £18m other income just from having WHS status. The Lake District has already seen monies come through the likes of Arts Council England and LEADER funding directly in response to WHS status; the LEP now recognises WHS as a growth asset for both visitor and rural economies
* WH status provides new stories to tell. The WH and cultural landscape stories have been under the radar in the past and are now a great opportunity to retell the Lakes’ story, to provide new ways of engaging and encouraging visitors, and local pride too
* Branding – a new brand is here and provides all stakeholders to associate themselves with and capitalise on being within or close to the WHS

Slide 33: Managing the WHS - the challenges

* UNESCO have already recognised that the Lakes can and does manage large numbers of tourists. It is the LDNPP and its members’ responsibility to ensure that should tourism numbers increase, they do so sustainably; for example implementing an Attract & Disperse strategy to move visitors
* All partners need to work to ensure that the Lake District’s attributes of OUV are not undermined; new proposed developments will arise that will test the management of the WHS
* There needs to be a partner and stakeholder-wide acknowledgement how intertwined nature and culture are and that they are equally important in the Lakes’ future
* There is an urgent need to start renewed thinking about sustainable public transport provision and alternatives; more rural buses, electric vehicles and charging points, water taxis, park ‘n’ rides etc
* There’s the significant impacts of cessation of CAP and what BREXIT might bring
* Partnership not working effectively
* Addressing UNESCO’s recommendations – eg limiting quarrying expansions, Moorside development, NW Coastal Connections (these last two not happening now), developing a sustainable future for upland farming, mitigating for consequences of climate change, providing affordable homes for locals and securing local services

Slide 34: Sources of more information

See slide.