The Lake District, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes and its mountains, and its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets.
The central, and most visited, part of the area the area is contained in the Lake District National Park which was designated as a National Park in 1951. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales, and second largest in the UK. It lies entirely within the modern county of Cumbria, shared historically by the counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire. All the land in England higher than three thousand feet above sea level lies within the National Park, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. It also contains the deepest and longest lakes in England.
In Neolithic times, the Lake District was a major source of stone axes, examples of which have been found all over Britain. The primary site, on the slopes of the Langdale Pikes, is sometimes described as a “stone axe factory” of the Langdale axe industry. Some of the earliest stone circles in Britain are connected with this industry.
Since Roman times, farming, in particular of sheep, was the major industry in the region. The breed most closely associated with the area is the tough Herdwick, with Rough Fell and Swaledale sheep also common. Sheep farming remains important both for the economy of the region and for preserving the landscape.
Mining, particularly of copper, lead, baryte, graphite and slate, was historically a major Lakeland industry, mainly from the 16th century to the 19th century. Coppiced woodland was used extensively to provide charcoal for smelting. Some mining still takes place today—for example slate mining continues at the Honister Mines, at the top of Honister Pass. Abandoned mine-workings can be found on fell-sides throughout the district. The locally-mined graphite led to the development of the pencil industry, especially around Keswick.
In the middle of the 19th century, half the world textile industry’s bobbin supply came from the Lake District area. Over the past century, however, tourism has grown rapidly to become the area’s primary source of income.
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