Have you heard the news?! The Lake District has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status!
World Heritage Status recognises the Lake District as a world renowned site of cultural interest. Seeing the area listed alongside the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Tower of London and the Great Barrier Reef (how very exciting).
This fantastic achievement celebrates the distinctive topographical, cultural and scenic attributes of the area. An area which is not just a fixed location on a map, but a timeless evolving story shaped by the experiences of visitors and local people alike. Throughout history, stories of a distinct Lakes culture have been told, by word of mouth, folklore and music, by works of art, poetry and industry. Today the National Park is as ever loved by all who are lucky enough to live, work, visit and stay here.
During the UNESCO nomination process the Lake District National Park Partnership identified 13 ‘Special Qualities’ of the National and here are just a few, we think you will agree The Lake District is a pretty special place indeed.
Come visit soon.
#WeAreTheLakes are you?
1) A WORLD CLASS CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
• Extraordinary beauty and harmony arising from narrow, radiating valleys, steep fells and slender lakes. Each of the 13 valleys exhibit individual distinctiveness.
2) COMPLEX GEOLOGY AND GEOMORPHOLOGY
• Home to highest mountains and deepest lakes in England, and a history of active geomorphological processes.
• A rich mining and quarrying history including prehistoric stone axe production, copper, and slate has had a significant influence on the physical character of the area and local buildings reflect the use of local raw materials.
3) RICH ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORIC LANDSCAPE
• A landscape that reflects a long history of settlement, agriculture and industry, including ‘ring garth’ stone wall enclosures of common fields, and ‘intakes’, hay meadows and pollarded trees that are still in use today.
4)UNIQUE FARMING HERITAGE AND CONCENTRATION OF COMMON LAND
• Hefted grazing, collective management of land, traditional breeds including Herdwick sheep and hardy cattle, communal gathers, shepherds meets, agricultural shows, and local dialect create a unique heritage.
5) THE HIGH FELLS
• Fells, peaks, crags and passes define valleys, shed water, and shape communities. They are rich in wildlife and archaeological sites, and integral to the hill farming system.
• For centuries people have come to walk them, and they are an inspiration to numerous writers and painters including Wordsworth, Turner and Constable.
6) WEALTH OF HABITATS AND WILDLIFE
• An abundance of freshwater habitats including lakes, rivers and tarns support a variety of species. Vegetation transitions from mountain top to valley bottom boasts diverse habitats and species.
7) MOSAIC OF LAKES, TARNS, RIVERS AND COAST
• Lakes, tarns, rivers and coast collectively contribute to the high quality scenery and natural resource which is so distinctively ‘The English Lake District’.
8) EXTENSIVE SEMI-NATURAL WOODLANDS
• Semi-natural woodlands add texture, colour and variety to the landscape. Wood pasture, pollards and old coppice woodland contain one of the greatest concentrations of ancient trees in Europe and form a living record of past land use, form part of the rich cultural landscape.
9) DISTINCTIVE BUILDINGS AND SETTLEMENT CHARACTER
• A distinctive settlement character comprising hamlets, villages and small towns which include a range of building types and styles.
10) A SOURCE OF ARTISTIC INSPIRATION
• A distinctive pastoral landscape of harmonious beauty which has inspired generations of artists and writers, influenced the Picturesque and Romantic Movements and continues to inspire artists today.
• Examples include J. M. W. Turner’s painting of the Coniston fells; Wordsworth’s home at Dove Cottage – owned by the Wordsworth Trust; Words by the Water at Theatre by the Lake; Grizedale Arts; Aira Force; and Nibthwaite and South Coniston Water – inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons children’s novels.
11) A MODEL FOR PROTECTING CULTURAL LANDSCAPES
• Vulnerability to industrial and other threats gave rise to the idea that valued landscapes should be nurtured and protected. The English Lake District was the birth place of an innovative conservation movement committed to the defence of landscape and traditional land use.
12) A LONG TRADITION OF TOURISM AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
• Provides opportunities for a wide range of sporting and recreational activities on land and water. History of tourism can be traced back to period of the Picturesque Movement.
• Birth place of recreational rock climbing, and tradition of unrestricted access to the fells means the English Lake District has become a focus for recreational walking.
13) OPPORTUNITIES FOR QUIET ENJOYMENT
• Tranquillity of the fells, valleys and lakes gives a sense of space and freedom. They provide opportunities for spiritual refreshment – a release from the pressures of modern day life.
• There is a feeling of wilderness, offering personal challenges for some and impressive open views for everyone.
• Examples of places include the Great Moss below Scafell in the Central Fells – the most tranquil place in the English Lake District; Great Gable – gifted to the National Trust as a memorial to those who died fighting in the First World War; and Ullswater with its steamers and quiet locations such as Howtown.
(UNESCO Nomination Document - 2.a-Description-of-The-English-Lake-District)