Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick, Cumbria, England. Bronze age stone circle taken just before sunrise, Blencathra mountain in the background.

EXPLORE THE LAKE DISTRICT

Almost 2 million visitors a year to pay homage to the stunning and unique beauty of the Lake District, but the area’s natural resources are not a recent attraction.

With early settlers dating back to over 5,000 years ago, the area quickly became the source of stone for axes and the sites of stone circles, such the one at Castlerigg, near Keswick, thought to be one of the earliest in the country. Celts, Romans, Angles, and Vikings all settled among the lakes, with the Vikings bequeathing us familiar local words such as “thwaite” (clearing), “fell” (mountain with grazing), “gill” (ravine), “force” (waterfall).

 Later inhabitants dug parts of the Lake District for copper, iron-ore, graphite, green slate and more, and coal was mined and quarried. By the 18th century, canals were constructed to allow easier access for visitors and transportation of coal.

The introduction of the railway also encouraged local entrepreneurs and by the middle of  the 19th century, the Lake District was home to many thriving businesses, including Stott Park Bobbin Mill, where half the world textile industry’s bobbins were produced. It is   now the country’s last remaining working bobbin mill, owned by English Heritage and open for tours.        

Easier access by rail to the glorious scenery of the unspoiled Lake District drew writers, artists, poets, day trippers and sophisticated out-of-towners to admire and enjoy the area. Tourism has thrived ever since. Many who were wealthy enough built fabulous holiday homes in popular areas around the lakes and Macdonald Leeming House, originally owned by Thomas Edward Every-Clayton, began life in this way.

The Lake District, officially part of Cumbria, is the largest of England’s National Parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017. It is home to over 150 high peaks, including four over 3000 feet (the only mountains in England) and highest of all, Scafell Pike. It contains 16 lakes, with Wastwater the deepest, and six natural nature reserves. The Lake District is also renowned for its stargazing and is listed as a Dark Skies Discovery site.