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Sport & Outdoorsin Sport & Outdoors at in Kendal

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The Lake District, Cumbria. Photo by Ben Barden, courtesy of Cumbria Tourist Board
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Founded in 1951, the Lake District National Park encompasses 866 square miles (2292 square km) of Cumbria, within which are 14 major lakes and England's highest peaks. From ten-and-a-half mile long Lake Windermere and Scafell Pike, the highest peak, to Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter-associated museums, the area is one of Britain's most popular national parks.

The lakes are, from the north and roughly clockwise, Bassenthwaite (the only one actually called "lake"), Derwentwater, Thirlmere, Ullswater, Haweswater, Rydal Water, Grasmere, Windermere, Coniston Water, the austere seclusion of Wastwater, Ennerdale Water, Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater. A number of the names show the Scandinavian heritage of the lakes, while the local name for the mountains - "fells" - also comes from the Norse.

If anything, the names of those fells are more evocative than the lakes, including Blencathra ("Devil's creek") and the four over 3000 feet: Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Scafell and - highest of them all - Scafell Pike.

The Lake District has had a major impact on the psyche of the country, ever since the encroaching industrial revolution sent artists scurrying for natural havens. Local poet William Wordsworth was not the only one to love the beauty of the natural landscapes, although he remains the most famous. Now the area is a popular destination for around two million visitors a year.

The park has its own Visitor Centre on the shore of Lake Windermere at Brockhole, as well as others strategically placed around the area.

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