As England’s biggest National Park, out of 15 in total, the Lake District preserves and improves the wildlife, natural beauty, and cultural heritage of the area. Until the 1800s, these remote areas used to be considered dangerous and uncivilised, with Daniel Dafoe describing them as ‘barren and frightful’ in 1724. Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth, however, saw these “untamed” parts of the countryside as sources of beauty and inspiration.
Opinions shifted on these countryside areas, with the awareness of the benefits of physical exercise, an increasing appreciation for the outdoors, the feeling of freedom, and the belief of spiritual renewal resulting in a high demand for the countryside. In 1847, railway tracks extended to Windermere, which made tourism possible and a more attractive option.
With growing concerns about the expansion of towns and cities and their encroachment on natural land, nature conservationists and leisure enthusiasts united in the 1930s for the conservation of areas of natural beauty and the countryside.
The Lake District National Park was designated on May 9th and founded on August 13th 1951. Since then, it has received millions of visitors a year from across the globe who have come to see the lovely blue lakes, meadows covered in flowers, and stunning green scenery that turns red and golden in Autumn.
Spanning across 885 square miles, or approximately 2,292 square kilometres, the Lake District has much to offer. This includes sights from England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, which provides some of the most stunning views over the Lake District and England’s largest natural lake, Windermere, where you can engage in water sports or have a relaxing day out.
Achieving UNESCO World Heritage Site Status
Joining the UK’s other 30 world heritage sites, the Lake District has been added to a list that includes the City of Bath, the Tower of London, Stonehenge, and the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh. This decision was announced on Twitter by UNESCO with a post that simply said: “Just inscribed as Unesco World Heritage Site: The English Lake District.”
The Lake District has become the UK’s first national park to be granted this status alongside worldwide marvels such as the Taj Mahal (India), Machu Picchu (Peru), the Pyramids of Giza (Egypt), Petra (Jordan), the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), and so many more.
Having started its journey in 1986 to try to obtain the UNESCO World Heritage Site status, this is a great achievement. Several aspects such as the Lake District’s place in culture, art, and literature combined with its striking natural beauty were praised by the deciding members of the Committee. The minister for arts, heritage, and tourism, John Glen, has said that the Lake District is “a unique part of the world that combines a vibrant farming community with thousands of archaeological sites and structures that give us an amazing glimpse into our past.”
With the beautiful natural scenery having inspired authors including William Wordsworth (you can visit his cottage in Grasmere), Beatrix Potter (who was the owner of Hill Top Farm), John Ruskin, and Samuel Coleridge, the Lake District has been fundamental in expanding the wonders of the area to the entire world.
The Lake District has now become both a national and an international site that will develop the tourism industry in the area. As it joins the other World Heritage Sites, conservation efforts are expected to increase to ensure the preservation of both flora and fauna.
What are the Criteria for Selection?
According to the UNESCO website, sites must be of outstanding universal value to the world and they need to meet at least one out of the ten defined criteria. These are explained in detail in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, which have been reviewed, and are continually revised, to include only one set of ten criteria. The list of criteria, as shown on the website, is:
i. To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
ii. To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
iii. To bear a unique or, at least, exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
iv. To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
v. To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
vi. To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
vii.To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
viii. To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
ix. To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
x. To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Contact Us for a Relaxing Holiday in the Lake District
Here at Windermere Marina Village, we provide luxury self-catered holiday cottages and apartments on the shores of Lake Windermere close to the village of Bowness. Properties overlook the stunning marina allowing you to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the Lake District in a relaxed environment. Get in touch with our team to book your stay with us today.