15 Facts About The Lake District You Didn’t Know

Anyone who has ever visited the Lake District and witnessed the sheer majesty and scale of the landscape will be surprised that this beautiful national park in the north west of England has only very recently been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

With the anniversary of the long-overdue recognition of the area as one of international significance fast approaching, we at Windermere Marina Village, leading providers of luxury self-catering accommodation in the heart of the Lake District, take a look at a selection of the most fascinating facts this stunning region has to offer.

It is the Home of Britain’s 44th Protected Food

The unique cultural heritage of the Cumberland Sausage was recognised in 2011 when the pork coil-shaped snack was granted protected status.

Known for its distinctive peppery taste thanks to a blend of both white and black pepper, the Cumberland sausage is made from chopped meat which gives it a more chunky texture than its counterparts made from meat that has been minced.

True Cumberland sausages are around 2 feet long and a quarter of an inch thick and must contain at least 80% meat, making them a delicious and authentic treat for anyone visiting the Lake District!

England’s Deepest Lake is in The Lake District

Wastwater is situated in the Wasdale Valley in the west of the county of Cumbria and is surrounded by mountains, including England’s highest Scafell Pike.

It was voted as Britain’s Favourite View in 2007 owing to the dramatic surroundings which include the Screes, millions of fragments of broken rock that protrude from the floor of the lake and reach up to 2000m in height.

Although there are 8 bigger lakes in the Lake District in terms of square kilometres, Wastwater is the deepest lake in England with a staggering depth of 243 feet. That’s the equivalent of 121 and a half uncoiled Cumberland sausages!

There is Only One Lake in the Lake District

This is a handy fact to know and will stand you in good stead for a pub quiz, being regularly used as a trick question.

Although there are 16 listed names of bodies of water in the Lake District, only one could be technically classed as a lake. Bassenthwaite Lake, situated in the north of the region near Keswick, is the only one that is actually a lake.

The others all include alternative names for a body of water within their title, such as a ‘mere’ (Buttermere for example, or even the largest and most well-known, Windermere), or a ‘water’ (as in Ullswater). The word ‘thwaite’, by the way, is an old Norse word for ‘clearing’.

It is a Haven From Zombies

Yes – this is absolutely true. If you find yourself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and in need of somewhere to hide, look no further than Ennerdale, location of the most westerly of the lakes.

It was here that the characters from the 2002 Danny Boyle film 28 Days Later took refuge and managed to escape.

With its stunning beauty and sense of remote isolation, Ennerdale provided the perfect backdrop for the 2002 Danny Boyle film and is just an hour and a half’s drive from Windermere Marina Village.

It is Home to Britain’s Highest War Memorial

It would be too easy to list that the location of England’s highest mountain is in the Lake District as one of the interesting facts here. More interesting, is that the summit of England’s highest mountain – Scafell Pike at 3210 feet – doubles as Britain’s highest war memorial.

Part of the ‘Great Gift’ in 1919, the peak of Scafell Pike was one of 13 mountains to be donated to the National Trust to commemorate the war dead.

The land was owned by Charles Wyndham, 3rd Baron of Leconfield who, having undertaken active service himself during the First World War, wanted it to be “..in perpetual memory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom, peace and right in the Great War of 1914-1918”.

Rangers from the National Trust have recently been tasked with rebuilding the 7.5 metre-wide landmark to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

There are Four Michelin-Starred Restaurants in The Lake District

Although the Cumberland Sausage may be synonymous with Cumbria and the Lake District, that’s not to say that fine dining doesn’t exist here.

On the contrary, in addition to the many wonderful eateries in the area, four of the restaurants have been granted a Michelin star.

Considering that this makes up half of the total number of Michelin stars given out to restaurants in the north-west of England as a whole, this is as impressive as it might be surprising – particularly given the relatively close proximity of more densely-populated areas of the region such as Manchester and Liverpool.

These bastions of fine cuisine in Cumbria are: L’Enclume (in Cartmel), Forest Side (Grasmere), Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse and The Samling. The last two in this list are in the most popular area of the Lakes, Windermere and, being in easy reach of Windermere Marina Village, are perfect if you’re staying in our self-catering accommodation and feel like treating yourself to a meal out.

It is a Haven From Norse Princes

In addition to providing sanctuary from zombies, the Lake District offered similar protection for St Bega who fled to the area from Ireland.

Her father, an Irish chieftain in the seventh century, had promised her hand in marriage to a Norse prince.

She chose instead to come to the Lake District and devote the rest of her life to serving God. A small church, set in beautiful surroundings by Lake Bassenthwaite, has been named after her.

Windermere Holds a Lot of Water

Whilst it is true that Windermere is the biggest body of water in England, it is a more interesting fact that it holds an incredible 300 billion litres of water.

Formed around 13,000 years ago during the last Ice Age when two glaciers melted, the water in Windermere was retained by the rock material that the glaciers deposited, and the southern end of the lake is where the water drains into the River Leven.

Liars Are Celebrated

Cumbrians are well-known for their down-to-earth honesty so there is a caveat to this particular fact in that being economical with the truth will only actually be tolerated for one day in November.

This is when the annual contest to find “The Biggest Liar in the World” takes place at The Bridge Inn at Santon Bridge in the Wasdale Valley.

The contest, whose noteworthy previous winners include TV personality Sue Perkins, celebrates the folklore of a 19th century publican named Will Ritson who was famed for the tall tales he regaled visitors with.

One such fib was that the turnips in his beloved Wasdale were so big that locals could ‘quarry’ into them for lunch and then use them to shelter Herdwick sheep on the fells, though whether this was a commentary on the size of the sheep or the vegetables produced in the region remains a mystery.

Pencils Were Invented in the Lake District

The graphite mine at Seathwaite, first discovered in the 1550s, provided the natural resource required to make the very first pencil and the history of this humble item of stationery is charted at the Pencil Museum in Keswick.

Visitors there can learn about all things pencils and see special exhibits, including WWII items with concealed maps and the longest colouring pencil in the world.

The yellow pencil was completed in May 2001, weighing 446.36kg and is a practically unusable 7.9 metres long – that’s the approximate length of 13 unravelled Cumberland sausages laid end to end!

Sticky Toffee Pudding Was Invented in the Lake District

Inventing new food is not restricted to savoury items. The beautiful vistas at Ullswater inspired Francis Coulson to create the very first sticky toffee pudding in the 1970s.

Made from fig and light sponge smothered in toffee sauce, this dessert has become popular the world over.

The original recipe however is reported to remain subject of a secrecy agreement at Sharrow Bay with the chefs promising never to reveal the full details, so if you want to try the original sticky toffee pudding as initially created while you’re on a self-catering break here in the Lakes, Ullswater is the place to head. Cartmel, close to Windermere Marina Village, is also known for its delicious Sticky Toffee Pudding so head on over!

Two Villages Are Buried Under One of the Lakes

With the population growth in the early part of the twentieth century leading to a need for additional infrastructure to support more and more people, the Manchester Corporation was granted permission from Parliament in 1929 to build a reservoir in the Mardale valley to provide drinking water for the inhabitants of north-western towns.

Haweswater was originally a natural lake in a valley and was also home to two villages, Mardale Green and Measand.

Before construction of the dam to create the new reservoir could start, the buildings of the farms and homes of the inhabitants were pulled down with the local church and pub, the Dun Bull Inn suffering the same fate.

Coffins of the deceased buried in the graveyard were moved and reburied elsewhere and the valley was flooded in 1935 to create what is now Haweswater, the most easterly of all the Lakes.

Nowadays, if there is a drought and water levels are low, the remains of the former buildings of the two villages can be seen.

The Lakes Are Home of the Original Mass Protest

It may be common knowledge that a mass protest of 500 ramblers on Kinder Scout in 1932 led to greater access to the Peak District but less well known is that a similar act of rebellion took place in Keswick some 45 years earlier in 1887.

With landowners gradually closing access paths that had been used for generations, the final straw came when the owner of Latrigg, a Miss Spedding, closed the only paths on the fell and barred the way by planting trees.

Incensed by this, Henry Irwin Jenkinson led a 2,000-strong crowd on October 1st 1887 to one of the blocked paths and removed the ‘Private’ sign before unchaining the gate and marching down the footpath.

A year later the ensuing court case led to one of the paths, Spooney Green Lane, being reopened and prompted other landowners to permit access to footpaths on their property. Henry Irwin Jenkinson received a rapturous welcome to Keswick and the main gate to Fitz Park in the town bears his name by way of tribute to his dedication to the community.

There Are A Lot of Footpaths

Walking has always been a popular activity when visiting the Lake District with many routes famously documented by Alfred Wainwright.

It is thanks to our friend Henry Irwin Jenkinson, mentioned above, that there is a general right to roam in open country and additionally, there are 1,342 miles of footpath within the National Park – equivalent to almost 360,000 unwound Cumberland sausages laid end to end!

It is Increasingly Popular

With all of the attributes mentioned here – and of course many more that aren’t – it’s of no surprise at all that tourism is a huge player in the economy of the Lake District and there’s no sign of this slowing down.

In 2017 there was a 6.6% increase in the numbers of visitors staying in non-serviced accommodation on the previous year.

With so much to see and do, and so much to explore, it’s small wonder that over 47 million people visited the Lake District in 2017 contributing an estimated £1.5bn to the local economy.

Why not join us and see what the Lake District has to offer and find out something fascinating for yourself by contacting us to book accommodation with us at Windermere Marina Village. Hope to see you soon!

Sticky Toffee Pudding
scafell pike in the Lake District
Wasdale Valley in the Lake District