We’ve always known the Lake District, Cumbria, was a special place - and since July 9th, 2017, it’s been official! It was on this date that the Lake District National Park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placing it alongside world famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and the Great Barrier Reef. 2022 sees the fifth anniversary of this momentous occasion, with Saturday 9th July the big day itself.

Let’s take a closer look at why the Lake District is a world heritage site, and what makes this beautiful area so special.

Derwentwater sunset

Why is the Lake District a World Heritage Site?


To become a UNESCO World Heritage Site is no mean feat: the criteria are strict, with only the best locations chosen to feature on the prestigious list. We are incredibly proud to be included amongst some of the world’s many wonders.

According to UNESCO’s selection criteria, “sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria” to be included on the World Heritage List.

The Lake District National Park was inscribed as a Cultural Landscape, with the Outstanding  Universal Values of Identity, Inspiration and Conservation.

Herdwick sheep in Wasdale


The Lake District has a distinct identity, rooted in its natural beauty and agricultural development. Our local breeds of sheep (who can forget the popular Herdwick!); our dedicated farmers; and our spectacular mountains, valleys, lakes and woodland have all contributed to a distinct area which has been attracting visitors since the 18th century.Wordsworth at Rydal Mount


It’s no secret that the Lake District, Cumbria, has inspired countless artists and writers over the years - including those of the Picturesque and Romantic movements. William Wordsworth spent much of his life here, and was inspired by the area to write his famous Daffodils poem. Beatrix Potter found much of the inspiration for her now iconic illustrated stories in our natural landscapes, settling here and making a huge impact on the local area which endures to this day.

The Picturesque movement had a significant impact on our landscapes, with its ideas of harmonious landscape beauty encouraging the creation of villas, formal gardens and viewing stations which can still be seen today. 

Aira Force waterfall


Conservation of the English Lake District was recognised early on as a priority, with a strong belief in the universal value of scenic landscapes, and their ability to uplift and inspire. The Lake District has been enjoyed by visitors for over 250 years, and a strong desire to protect the area led to the birth of a conservation movement, including the National Trust and protected areas including UK National Parks.

Did you know?

  • The Lake District is one of 1,154 World Heritage Sites

  • Upon its inscription on July 9th 2017, it became the UK’s 31st UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • It was also the UK’s 5th World Heritage Site as a Cultural Landscape (others include Blaenavon Industrial Landscape; Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and St Kilda).

  • The Lake District is the UK’s largest World Heritage site: 229,200 hectares (1951 boundary)

  • The Lake District isn’t the only World Heritage Site in Cumbria! There’s also Hadrian’s Wall: a World Heritage Site since 1987

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