15 Things you probably didn’t know about the Lake District

15 Things you probably didn’t know about the Lake District

Famous for its lakes, its mountains and its tarns, the Lake District is the most visited National Park in England. Here are Some of the things you probably didn’t know about the Lake District include:

The name ´Windermere´

The word “Windermere” is thought to translate as “Vinandr’s Lake”, from the Old Norse name, Vinandr and Old English mere, meaning lake. It was known as “Winander Mere” or “Winandermere” until at least the nineteenth century.

Prisoner of War Camp

A prisoner of war camp as sited at Moota near Cockermouth during the Second World War. Around 1,200 Germans were held there and employed on local farms.


The three elements of the name ‘Torpenhow’ all mean ‘hill’ in different languages – Anglo-Saxon (‘tor’), British/Old Welsh (‘pen’) and Old Norse (‘how’).

Alston Moor

Silver from Alston Moor was used to make silver coins at Carlisle’s Royal Mint, and Alston Moor lead was used in the roofing of Windsor Castle.

The highest town

Alston is the highest market town in England at 1,043 ft (318 m). In winter if the snow conditions are good, there are numerous ski runs to try.

Cross Fell

Cross Fell is the highest point on the Pennine fells at 893 m (2,930 ft). It used to be called Fiend’s Fell because evil spirits were believed to inhabit it. St Augustine, an early Christian missionary, is said to have erected a cross on the summit, held mass and banished the howling demons. The summit was thereafter known as Cross Fell.

Miltonrigg Woods and York Minster

Oak trees from Miltonrigg Woods were used in the rebuilding of York Minster’s roof after the 1984 fire.

Local Slate for the Queen

Slates from Honister grace the roofs of Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Ritz Hotel in London.

Wettest place in England

Seathwaite in Borrowdale is officially the wettest inhabited place in England with a mean annual rainfall of over 3 metres (120 inches). The heaviest annual rainfall ever recorded in the UK was at Sprinkling Tarn in 1954 when over 6½ metres of rain fell over the course of the year.

Dalston Cocks

Dalston’s motto is: ‘Whilst I live, I’ll crow’, a reference to the sport of cock-fighting which was once popular in the village. A wrought iron sculpture of a black and red cockerel sits atop the lamp base on the village green.

Wragmire Oak

The Wragmire Oak was the last tree to survive from the Forest of Inglewood and for 600 years marked the boundary between the parishes of High Hesket and St Mary’s in Carlisle. After 1000 years the tree finally succumbed to old age and fell on 13 June 1823.

Twelve Men

Wreay is famous for its ‘parliament’ of Twelve Men – a self-electing council responsible for the welfare of the villagers, who still meet once a year.


The world’s first permanent orienteering course was laid out at Whinlatter in 1992.

Hawkshead Seed whigs

Hawkshead was well known for two baking specialities: Seed Whigs and Hawkshead Cakes. Seed Whigs are oblong-shaped tea cakes flavoured with caraway seeds. Hawkshead Cakes are pastries filled with currants, sugar and butter.

The Drunken Duck at Ambleside

The Drunken Duck Inn received its name after beer accidentally drained into a ditch that the local ducks frequented. The ducks lapped up the alcohol and passed into a lifeless stupor. The landlady, thinking they were dead, set about plucking them ready for the oven but soon realised what had happened. The ducks were reprieved from being roasted and given knitted jerseys and kilts to wear until their feathers grew back.

Know about the Lake District first hand, by staying in a Windermere Spa Hotel.

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