The area, which was designated a national park on 9 May 1951 (less than a month after the first UK national park designation — the Peak District), is the most visited national park in the United Kingdom with 15.8 million annual visitors and more than 23 million annual day visits, the largest of the thirteen national parks in England and Wales, and the second largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. Its aim is to protect the landscape by restricting unwelcome change by industry or commerce. Most of the land in the park is in private ownership, with about 55% registered as agricultural land. Landowners include:
- Individual farmers and other private landowners, with more than half of the agricultural land farmed by the owners.
- The National Trust owns about a quarter of the total area (including some lakes and land of significant landscape value).
- The Forestry Commission and other investors in forests and woodland.
- United Utilities owns 8%
- Lake District National Park Authority (3.9%) is based at offices in Kendal. It runs a visitor centre on Windermere at a former country house called Brockhole, Coniston Boating Centre, and Information Centres. It is reducing its landholding.
The lakes and mountains combine to form impressive scenery. Farmland and settlement add aesthetic value to the natural scenery with an ecology modified by human influence for millennia and including important wildlife habitats. The Lake District failed in a previous attempt to gain World Heritage status as a natural World Heritage Site, because of human activities, such as commercial forestry, which have adversely impacted the park's assessment. However, in 2016 the English Lake District bid for World Heritage Status was submitted to UNESCO in the category of cultural landscape. A decision is expected in 2017.
The image below was taken on the eastern shore of Thirlmere, looking north. The word Thirlmere, appears to have its roots in 'Leathes-Water', which was also 'Thirlmere' or 'Wythburn-water' 1769. Probably 'the lake with/at the narrowing' from OE þyrel 'aperture', pierced hole' plus OE mere 'lake'.
Thirlmere was constructed in the 19th century by the Manchester Corporation to provide the burgeoning industrial city of Manchester with water supplies. The 96 mile-long Thirlmere Aqueduct still provides water to the Manchester area.
The image was captured with my Canon 5D3 using a Sigma 12-24mm lens at 12mm. Nine images were taken: three exposure brackets at three different focus points. All the brackets, exposure and focus, were automatically calculated and set in the camera, using Version 4 of my Magic Lantern Lua Auto Landscape Bracketing script (see link on the right).