The Lake District National Park
The Lake District National Park is the largest of 11 Parks in the UK, attracting some 12 million people a year to enjoy the scenery, tranquility and ecology. Covering 880 square miles of country west of the M6, it encompasses about 1/3 of Cumbria from Caldbeck in the North to Lindale in the South, and Ravenglass in the West to Shap in the East.
Glaciation has carved the area's beauty from granite and limestone, resulting in impressive hills and dales, peaks, fells and moorland. Man has cut back the forests, and sheep have grazed a new ecology - the mighty woodlands of old are replaced by gentle pasture in the valleys, and open moorland on the hills. Water and ice made their mark on the hillsides, and Man continued to change the scene through agriculture and mining.
The major lakes, including Windermere, Ullswater, Coniston and Wastwater provide water sports and wildlife. The peaks, best-known of which are Scafell, Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Blencathra and Coniston Old Man, provide wonderful walking, scrambling and climbing, and an opportunity to work up great thirst. Fortunately, the villages are well-supplied with excellent pubs and taverns to quench it!
The dominant feature of the landscape is the stark contrast between the peaks and the lakes themselves. The valley floors, verdant green and dotted with pretty villages, are overlooked by the fells, with upland pasture and the remaining woods. From the fells, ramblers can see across valleys, in a landscape which varies from heather moorland to open limestone pavement.
It cannot be said that there is true wilderness here, but there is certainly wildness in abundance. Walking up the hillsides, you will see wetland environments, scree slopes and heath, all apparently devoid of human interference. Wildlife abounds - from the commonplace to rarer species such as the bog orchid, red squirrel, Large Heath butterfly and golden plover.
This is truly an area of English beauty, well worth a visit.