Special Qualities and Outstanding Universal Value of the Lake District

Special Qualities distinguish National Parks from each other and other areas of the country. All of the Special Qualities of the Lake District contribute in different ways to the Outstanding Universal Value of the area recognised by World Heritage Site Status. As this is the case all of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value are specific aspects of each of the Special Qualities.

This is demonstrated in Table 1. Full descriptions of the Special Qualities are found in the Partnership’s Plan 2015-2020, and the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value for each valley can be found in the Nomination of the English Lake District: Volume 1 Nomination Document.

Short summary of National Park Special Qualities and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value

A world class cultural landscape

  • extraordinary beauty and harmony…
  • fusion between natural landscape and farming system

Complex geology and geomorphology

  • rich mining and quarrying system
  • local natural resources have strongly influenced the  built environment and the wider landscape...
  • variety of each of the 13 valleys

Rich archaeology and historic landscape

  • landscape that reflects a long history of settlement, agriculture and industry… 
  • distinctive field systems...

Unique farming heritage and concentration of common land

  • hefted grazing, collective management, common land and shepherds meets 
  • pastoral system that has evolved in the Lake District for over a thousand years and its continuation by today’s farmers maintains a unique farming legacy

The High Fells

  • open, common land and an integral part of hill farming system. For centuries people have come to walk and climb…

Wealth of habitats and wildlife

  • unique assemblage of wildlife and habitats

Mosaic of lakes, tarns, rivers and coast

  • collectively contribute to the high quality scenery and natural resource which is so distinctly ‘the Lake District’ and unique in England

Extensive semi-natural woodlands

  • semi-natural woodlands add texture, colour and variety to the landscape…

Distinctive buildings and settlement character

  • the local architecture varies from the traditional vernacular buildings with related characteristics to the more formal architecture styles, settlement pattern villas...

A source of artistic inspiration

  • the unique beauty of the Lake District’s pastoral landscape has inspired generations of artists and writers and romantic engagement with the landscape, viewing stations, designed landscape

A model for protecting cultural landscapes

  • there also developed an understanding of its vulnerability to forces of change. 
  • birthplace of an innovative Conservation Movement committed to the defence of its landscape and communities, National Trust ownership…
  • importance of conserving the physical and social elements of hill farming in the English Lake District

A long tradition of tourism and outdoor activities

  • history of tourism can be traced back to Picturesque fascination with the Lake District
  • tradition of unrestricted access to the fells, early tourist infrastructure and outdoor movement...

Opportunities for quiet enjoyment

  • tranquillity of the fells, valleys and lakes gives a sense of space and freedom…