The Lake District National Park, one of 13 National Parks in the UK, lies entirely within Cumbria.
Established in 1951, this is the largest National Park (covering 885 square miles) and one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
The Lake District is about 34 miles north to south and west to east, one of the few mountainous regions of England and Scafell Pike (3,206 ft), its tallest peak, is the highest point in the country.
Formed by the last Ice Age, the area boasts a range of landscapes including moorland, woodland, marshes and limestone pavements, small tarns and the larger lakes.
The Lake District has a radial drainage pattern, with its rivers spreading out from a central hub of fells around Scafell Pike and a secondary hub around Helvellyn. Most of the larger glaciated valleys are filled by lakes, which also radiate from the central hub.
There are 16 major lakes as well as many smaller tarns.Apart from its beauty, the Lake District is renowned for heavy rainfall. The head of Borrowdale, near Keswick, holds the record for the highest recorded precipitation in England (200 inches per year).
Historically sheep farming has been the most important industry in the Lake District and the hardy Herdwick breed is most closely associated with the area.
Beatrix Potter, the famous author of children's books, lived in the Lake District and farmed sheep at Hill Top Farm near Hawkshead. She also purchased several other sheep farms in the area to help protect the landscape. On her death she left much of her property to the National Trust to ensure that its beauty would remain unspoiled.
Sheep farming remains important to the economy and helps to maintain the picturesque scenery.
Mining, particularly of lead, copper and slate, was also a major industry and the discovery of local deposits of graphite in the 16th century lead to the development of the pencil industry in Keswick.
Today tourism is the most important industry in the area.
The Lake District was first made famous in the 19th century by the poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Colleridge and Robert Southey.
Landscape painters including Turner and Constable also immortalised the area. The area still attracts painters and photographers, and is also popular with ramblers, climbers and those just wanting to admire the spectacular views.
Within the Lake District are 6 National Nature Reserves and 100 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
All the major lakes in the area are listed on our Lakes page