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The Lake District

 

 

Glenridding and Ullswater
Courtesy of David Iliff

Introduction

The Lake District, also known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a beautiful mountainous region in Cumbria, North West England.

An extremely popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes and mountains (or fells), and its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets.

The central, and most visited, part of the area is contained in the magnificent Lake District National Park, the largest of fifteen National Parks in the United Kingdom containing the deepest and longest lakes in England.

All the land in England higher than three thousand feet above sea level lies within the National Park, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
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Derwentwater

Lakes

Only one of the lakes in the Lake District is called by that name, Bassenthwaite Lake. All the others such as Windermere, Coniston Water, Ullswater and Buttermere are meres and waters, with mere being the least common and water being the most common.

 
    Name Length Width Depth
   

Miles

km Miles km ft m

1

Windermere

10.24

18.08

0.93

1.49

219

67

2

Ullswater

7.30

11.80

0.63

1.02

207

63

3

Coniston Water

5.50

8.80

0.49

0.79

184.1

56.1

4

Haweswater

4.20

6.70

0.57

0.90

187

57

5

Bassenthwaite Lake

4.00

6.40

0.80

1.30

70

21

6

Thirlmere

3.76

6.05

0.11

0.17

131

40

7

Wastwater

3.00

4.88

0.49

0.79

259

79

8

Derwentwater

2.90

4.60

1.19

1.91

72

22

9

Ennerdale Water

2.59

4.17

0.79

1.28

150

45

10

Crummock Water

2.50

4.02

0.60

0.97

144

43.9

11

Esthwaite Water

1.50

2.41

0.50

0.80

50.9

15.5

12

Buttermere

1.24

2.00

0.35

0.57

75

23

13

Loweswater

1.10

1.80

0.34

0.55

52

16

14

Grasmere

0.95

1.54

0.40

0.64

75

22.9

15

Devoke Water

0.90

1.45

0.25

0.40

46

14

16

Rydal Water

0.73

1.18

0.22

0.35

65

17

17

Hayeswater

0.59

0.95

0.27

0.43

52

16

18

Elterwater

0.58

0.93

0.20

0.32

20

6

19

Brotherswater

0.40

0.64

0.25

0.40

70

21.3

               
               
Helvellyn

Mountains

The 25 highest peaks
in the Lake District:

 
   Name  Height
    m ft

1

Scafell Pike

978 3210

2

Scafell

965 3162

3

Helvellyn

950 3117

4

Skiddaw

931 3054

5

Great End

910 2986

6

Bowfell

902 2960

7

Great Gable

899 2949

8

Pillar

892 2926

9

Nethermost Pike

891 2923

10

Catstye Cam

889 2917

11

Esk Pike

885 2903

12

Raise

883 2896

13

Fairfield

873 2863

14

Blencathra

868 2847

15

Skiddaw Little Man

865 2837

16

White Side

863 2831

17

Crinkle Crags

859 2818

18

Dollywaggon Pike

858 2815

19

Great Dodd

857 2807

20

Grasmoor

852 2795

21

Stybarrow Dodd

843 2772

22

St. Sunday Crag

841 2759

23

Scoat Fell

841 2759

24

Crag Hill

839 2753

25

High Street

828 2717
 

Climate

The Lake District's location on the north west coast of England, coupled with its mountainous geography, makes it the dampest part of England.

March to June tend to be the driest months, with October to January the wettest, but at low levels there is relatively little difference between months.

The maritime climate means that the Lake District experiences relatively moderate temperature variations through the year. Mean temperature in the valleys ranges from about 3 °C (37 °F) in January to around 15 °C (59 °F) in July.

The relatively low height of most of the fells means that, while snow is expected during the winter, they can be free of snow at any time of the year. Normally, significant snow fall only occurs between November and April. On average, snow falls on Helvellyn 67 days per year.

During the year, valleys typically experience 20 days with snow falling, a further 200 wet days, and 145 dry days.

Hill fog is common at any time of year, and the fells average only around 2.5 hours of sunshine per day, increasing to around 4.1 hours per day on the coastal plains.
 

 
 
Keswick Panorama
Courtesy of David Iliff

Geography

T
he Lake District is approximately 34 miles (55 km) across and comprises nine regions.

Northern Fells
The Northern Fells form a self contained unit, quite remote from the other ranges. The western boundary is formed by Bassenthwaite Lake and the southern perimeter by the River Greta, one of its principal feeders. The River Caldew bounds the eastern edge of the group, flowing away toward Carlisle. At Caldbeck the Calder is joined by the Whelpo Beck which drains many of the northern slopes. Only on the east, between the headwaters of the Greta and Caldew, does a bridge of higher ground strike out to connect with the rest of Lakeland, a long ridge curving southward to connect with Great Mell Fell in the Eastern Fells. The deep trough of Bassenthwaite wards off the North Western Fells, while the Central Fells rise beyond Keswick and the Greta.

North Western Fells
The north-western area stands between the valleys of Borrowdale and Buttermere, with Honister Pass joining the two dales. This area comprises the Newlands Fells (Dale Head, Robinson, Catbells) and the ridge joining them. To the north stand Grasmoor, Grisedale Pike and the hills around the valley of Coledale, and in the far north-west is Thornthwaite Forest and Lord's Seat. The fells in this area are rounded Skiddaw slate, with few tarns and relatively few rock faces.


Western Fells
The western part is the area between Buttermere and Wasdale, with Sty Head forming the apex of a large triangle. Ennerdale bisects the area, which consists of the High Stile ridge north of Ennerdale, the Loweswater Fells in the far north west, the Pillar group in the south west, and Great Gable (2,949 feet / 899 metres) near Sty Head. Other tops include Seatallan, Haystacks and Kirk Fell. This area is craggy and steep, with the impressive pinnacle of Pillar Rock its showpiece. Wastwater, located in this part, is England's deepest lake. Rising up around the Western Valley of Wasdale is Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain.


Central Fells
The central part is the lowest in terms of elevation. It takes the form of a long boot-shaped ridge running from Loughrigg Fell above Ambleside—a popular tourist destination—to Keswick, with Derwent Water on the west and Thirlmere on the east. The Langdale Pikes, with High Raise behind them, are another feature popular with walkers. The central ridge running north over High Seat is exceptionally boggy.


Eastern Fells
The eastern area consists of a long north-to-south ridge—the Helvellyn range, running from Clough Head to Seat Sandal with the 3,118-foot (950 m) Helvellyn at its highest point. The western slopes of these summits tend to be grassy, with rocky corries and crags on the eastern side. The Fairfield group lies to the south of the range, and forms a similar pattern with towering rock faces and hidden valleys spilling into the Patterdale valley. It culminates in the height of Red Screes overlooking the Kirkstone Pass.


Far Eastern Fells
The far-eastern fells lie on the other side of Patterdale and are characterised by steep sides leading up to a huge moorland plateau, again on a north–south axis. High Street is the highest point on the ridge, overlooking the hidden valley of Mardale and Haweswater. In the south of this region are the fells overlooking Kentmere, and to the east is Shap Fell, a huge area that is more akin to the Pennines than the Lakes, consisting of high flat moorland.


Mid Western Fells
The mid-western fells form a triangular shape, with the corners at the Irish Sea, Borrowdale and Langdale. They comprise the Wastwater Screes overlooking Wasdale, the Glaramara ridge overlooking Borrowdale, the three tops of Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike overlooking Langdale and Scafell Pike in the centre, at 3,209 feet (978 m) the highest ground in England. Scafell one mile (1.6 km) to the south-west is slightly lower but has a 700-foot (210 m) rock face on its north face, Scafell Crag. The valley of Eskdale penetrates this upland wilderness. These fells are the most rugged and craggy of all, and consequently going is slower amongst the tumbled granite.


South Western Fells
The south-western fells have as their northern boundary the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. These are particularly narrow and steep, with tight hairpin bends. The Furness Fells (invariably referred to as the Coniston Fells by walkers) stand between Coniston and the Duddon Valley, which runs NE-SW through the centre of the area. On the other side of the Duddon is Harter Fell and the long ridge leading over Whitfell to Black Combe and the sea. The south of this region consists of lower forests and knolls, with Kirkby Moor on the southern boundary. The south-western Lake District ends near the Furness peninsulas, which leads to Cumbria's second largest settlement (Barrow-in-Furness). The Castlehead field centre is in this area.


South Eastern Fells
The south-eastern area is the territory between Coniston Water and Windermere and east of Windermere. There are no high summits in this group; it is mainly low hills, knolls and bumpy terrain such as Gummer's How, Whitbarrow and Top o' Selside. The wide expanse of Grizedale Forest stands between the two lakes. Kendal and Morecambe Bay


 

Lake District National Park Map
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© Ordnance Survey - OS Open Data License

 

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