The National Park

Lindale English Lake DistrictOnly about 1 hours by car along the M61 and M6 motorways from Manchester, the English Lake District is a protected National Park and is the largest in Great Britain. It is a land of mountains and lakes, and a Mecca for walkers, tourists and climbers alike. England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike is located here in the Langdale Pikes (Hills) overlooking Grasmere.

The National Park is located entirely in the county of Cumbria (what used to be known as Cumberland, Westmorland and the most northern tip of Lancashire), although all of the county is not a National Park. It is a very popular location with day-trippers from Manchester and from all over the north-west of England and the industrial Midlands, and after London and Stratford-on-Avon, ranks as Britain’s third most popular tourist attraction.

Blea Tarn, English Lake DistrictCastlerigg Stone Circle, English Lake District Helvelyn, Lake DistrictThirlmere, English Lake District
Left to Right: Blea Tarn. Castlerigg Stone Circle. Towards Helvelyn from Keswick. Thirlmere in Autumn


The Lakes of Cumbria

Actually, although known as the Lake District, technically there’s only one “Lake” as such (Bassenthwaite Lake) – the rest are “meres” or “waters” (as in Windermere and Derwentwater). It’s many lakes vary a great deal in character from the remote and bleak north-western lakes like Wastwater and Ennerdale Water, to the more friendly and populated Southern Lakes like Grasmere, Rydal and Windermere.
Of these southern lakes, Windermere is the largest in Britain, being over 10 miles long, and forms a popular boating haven for yachtsmen. The lake of Thirlmere has for more than a century provided all of the drinking water for the City of Manchester, being piped the 100 miles or so through underground pipes.
Apart from the Lakes themselves, the landscape is dominated by the mountain peaks, like Helvellyn and Scafell Pike, which separate and overlook them. The crags and fells of the Lake District give it its most distinctive
character, and provide England with its tallest mountain, Scafell Pike.
The Lakes are easily accessible by road, being well signposted and served from the M6 motorway exits 36 to 40 by fast dual carriageway roads. There are also regular daily coach services from Manchester hotels and train services run to Windermere, which, along with neighbouring Bowness, is a good base for an extended visit of the region. There are plenty of Windermere hotels and accommodations options as well. Keswick forms an ideal touring base for the central and northern lakes.

Cautionary Note

Remember to take warm waterproof clothing – the lakes are there, (not surprisingly), because it rains a great deal over the mountains – even in summertime – that’s where lakes come from.

Map of the Lake District

Map of English Lake District National Park