About the Lake District Cumbria

The Lake District in the UK is a fascinating place. This ideal holiday destination is located in the NW England and covers 885 square miles (2292km square). It is the second oldest English National Park after the Peak District, having been granted this honour in 1951. This area had originally comprised Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire but now falls mostly within the modern-day county of Cumbria, UK.


About the Lake District in Cumbria


Since I have experienced many such holidays in the Lakes, I feel it has almost become my second home. Most of the photos on this site are my own. Here, you will find a wealth of information on walking routes, what to do, places to stay, unusual pursuits in the Lakes such as swimhiking, fellrunning and plein air painting. Just scroll down on the navibar on the left to find the information you want or view the links above to see my external sites that complement the Lakes.
But firstly, find an overview of this fascinating corner of Britain.


Facts about the Lakes


For those who are unfamiliar with this beautiful quarter of England, the Lake District possesses a diversity of landscapes, unequalled by most other counties, having a host of lakes, forests, fells, tarns, waterfalls, wildlife, pretty villages that have inspired notable writers throughout the centuries. Such residents have been Wordsworth (and his other Lake Poets, Coleridge and Southey), Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Wainwright and more recently, the thriller writers Reginald Hill and Val McDermid.


Pretty villages such as Ambleside, Keswick, Bowness and Windermere provide an historic overview of the Lakes, not forgetting fabulous places to shop or have cream tea. My favourite haunts are Ambleside, Grasmere and Bowness. On the outskirts we can find: Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Ulverston, Penrith and Cockermouth.


Names of Lakes and Fells in the Lakes


There is in fact only one actual ‘lake’ in Lakeland, which Bassenthwaite. The others are ‘meres’ or ‘waters.’


There are nineteen notable ‘bodies of water’ in Lakeland in all. These are (in alphabetical order): Bassenthwaite, Brotherwater, Buttermere, Coniston, Crummock, Derwent, Devoke, Elterwater, Ennerdale, Esthwaite, Grasmere, Haweswater, Hayeswater, Loweswater, Rydal, Thirlmere, Ullswater, Wastwater and Winderemere. Kentmere is a reservoir. The deepest lake is Wastwater, at 79m (243ft) at its deepest point, which stands at the foot of the highest point in England, being Scafell Pike 978m (3210ft). The longest lake is Windermere, at almost 19km (10.5miles).


The Main Fells of Lakeland


The highest peaks in England can also be found in the lakes, being Scafell Pike 978m (3210ft), Scafell 964m (3162ft), Helvellyn 951m (3114ft) and Skiddaw 931m (3053ft). The image above shows the view from a triangulation pillar on Latterbarrow, used to survey the landscape, including the heights of these fells.
It comes to little surprise, then, that the wettest areas in England can be found in the Lakes, averaging at 80in of rain per year. But Seathwaite in Borrowdale, at the foot of the Scafell Range, boasts 130in of rain per year. This makes this town the wettest inhabited spot in England.
The Valleys of Lakeland
Roughly speaking, the valleys of the Lake District radiate outwards in spoke formation. This compartmentalizes each into various areas possessing different landscapes and climates. The central ‘nub’ can be found in Dunmail Raise, just north of Grasmere. Key valleys are: Dunnerdale, Eskdale, Wasdale, Ennerdale, Lorton Vale, Buttermere Valley, Derwent Valley and Borrowdale.
Areas of the Lake District
As the Lakes possess such diversity of landscapes, these can broadly be divided into the following:
Northern and Northwestern fells: include the bulks of Skiddaw, Blencathra (also known as Saddleback) Carrock Fell and Bassenthwaite Lake. Here we will also find the Newlands Valley, Dale Head, Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike and Lord’s Seat.

The Western fells: boasts Sty Head, High Stile, Loweswater Fells, Pillar, Great Gable, Seatallan, Haystacks and Kirk Fell. Also Ennerdale and Wastwater.

Central fells: High Raise, Derwent Water, Thirlmere, Keswick, Langdale Pikes, Loughrigg Fell, High Seat, Ambleside.

Eastern fells: Helvellyn, Clough Head, Seat Sandal, Fairfield, High Seat, Martindale Common, Bampton Common, Shap Fell and Kentmere

Southern fells: Wasdale, Eskdale, Langdale Valley and Dunnerdale Valley. Here, we will also find the knobbled landscape of Gummer’s How, Coniston and Grizedale Forsest.
Art in the Lakes

There are several art galleries in the Lake District including Heaton Cooper Gallery in Grasmere, housing the paintings of the notable William Heaton Cooper. I have enjoyed producing my own art in the Lakes, and you will therefore find advice on finding artistic inspiration, including painting en plein air. Picturesque scenes can be sought from Grasmere, Castlerigg (pictured above), Windermere and Rydal Village. As you will see, the Lakes is the ideal artist’s destination.
Plein Air Painting in the Lake District
I enjoy painting, as my sister sites, oil painting demonstrations and oil painting practices, will show. Advice on how to incorporate plein air painting into a Lake District walk, with step by step demonstrations on completing various paintings on locations such as Buttermere and Grasmere, may offer opportunities for a cheap painting holiday. But those wishing to take part in a tutored painting holiday in the Lakes, information can also be found here.
Why Visit the Lakes?

As can be seen, the Lakes offer something for everybody, as there is a diversity of landscapes for any outdoor pursuit, which might be trekking, cycling, running, swimming, potholing, scubadiving, camping and more. The Lakes is also steeped in history, culture and art. There are numerous galleries, historic buildings and ancient settlements to be found. Every time I visit this place, I learn something new.
References: Lake District National Park (online resource 2012)
The Lake District from the Air: Aerofilms (Leopard Publications 2010)
Rachel Shirley (copyright 2011)