TRAVEL GAZETTE – It is the most visited National Park in England, attracting more than 23 million day trippers a year, and next year could become a World Heritage Site(WHS).
It’s also the home of writer William Wordsworth and story teller Beatrix Potter.
The British government confirmed this week that the Lake District will be its one submission to be considered by UNESCO in 2017 for WHS status, cited for its cultural landscape.
The title would throw an international spotlight on what is the most stunning mountain scenery in England and earn the most northern part of the country millions of dollars a year extra in tourism income.
Every area of England above a height of 910 meters falls within the Lake District, including England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike at 978 meters.The area was created as the ice age retreated, leaving a 64 kilometer long area of mountains, fells and lakes.
Of the 19 lakes in the area, Windermere is the largest in England, one of the main attractions with an official national park spanning almost 2,300 square kilometers.
Putting the case together for a world heritage site has taken more than two years, with a bid that also celebrates how the Lake District inspired romantic poets and famous writers such as William Wordsworth.
Government Heritage Minister, David Evennett, said: “The Lake District is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and important landscapes in the UK, so it is only fitting that the area be nominated for world heritage site status.”
“Not only would this formally recognise its unique identity, but also provide a significant boost to the local tourism industry and encourage even more visitors to visit this vibrant area,” he said.
Henry Owen-John, head of international advice for Historic England, said: “We are delighted that the proposal for world heritage site status will now be considered by UNESCO. The historic landscape of fells and valleys, enhanced by stone walled farms, fields and upland grazing is as beautiful and inspirational today as it was to Wordsworth. It is in our view of outstanding universal value to all humanity.”
Steve Ratcliffe, who chairs the Lake District’s world heritage project management group, said: “This marks a significant milestone for the bid and is an opportunity for all the partners involved to celebrate their contribution. We have submitted a strong bid, showcasing how the landscape is a living example of a cultural landscape.”
“It has been shaped by the people who farm and work in the Lake District, alongside the millions who visit and take inspiration from this special place every year.”
Mike Innerdale from the National Trust said: “The Trust cares for a fifth of the land in the Lake District National Park, including England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and its deepest lake, Wastwater. We own 90 tenanted farms in the National Park and look after many of its historic buildings – among them William Wordsworth’s childhood home.
“Many of the Lake District farms in our care were gifted to the Trust by Beatrix Potter, author of the Tale of Peter Rabbit and a champion breeder of the Herdwick sheep that have come to define the area. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth.”