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History of Lake District Tourism

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The English Lake District is an area of great natural beauty located in the north of England.
The area is famous for its amazing beauty and peaceful landscapes.
Its popularity has always been partly due to its rich cultural past involving three famous Lakes poets - of whom more in a moment! The Lake District is also home to England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and deepest lake at Wasdale.
All of these qualities have made the Lake District one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK.
Back in the late 17th century, walking and hiking breaks in the Lake Districts were mostly enjoyed by people who lived near or in the local area, since they could easily reach the beautiful valleys and mountains the area has to offer.
But things had to change - and they did, when, in 1778, Thomas West wrote his pioneering guidebook about the Lake District, a new development which promoted visitors and brought hundreds of travellers to the area.
The popularity of the region grew so much that in the late 18th century the local authority responded by erecting viewpoints and "station houses", which allowed visitors to see and experience some of the Lake District's most stunning views and landscapes.
William Wordsworth wrote his first guide to the Lakes in 1810, a guide that eventually expanded into five volumes and gave people both insight into the area and a valuable tool to travel with.
Of course Wordsworth also drew poetical inspiration from the Lake District - more on this in a moment! In the early 19th century, tourism in the Lake District started booming thanks to the establishment of railway links in areas such as Kendal and Windermere.
These railway links made the Lake District much more accessible to working people.
To accommodate the huge numbers of visitors, new attractions and facilities were introduced; for example, the steamer boats which allowed people to experience the various lakes by boat made the Lake District an exciting and interesting place for holidays and brought economic growth to the local area.
In the early 1950s the Lake District got national park status so as to help preserve its natural beauty from unhealthy commercial and industrial influences.
The M6 built along the east side of the Lakes opened up the area further and brought many more visitors by car; perhaps a mixed blessing, now that around 14 million people visit the Lake District every year! Interestingly, the Lake District is Britain's second largest tourist attraction, with people coming from all over the world.
Even to this day, the steamer boats on Windermere are one of the most successful visitor attractions in the UK! Tourism adds tens of millions of pounds to the local economy every year.
And even though many people now enjoy going abroad on their holidays, the enduring appeal of the Lakes will ensure millions of people continue to visit in the years ahead.
As we mentioned, the Lake Poets - especially Wordsworth - were instrumental in promoting Lake District tourism through their depiction of the glorious scenery.
The "Lake Poets" is the collective name for a group of iconic poets who all lived in the Lake District during the late 18th and the early 19th century: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.
All three poets drew inspiration from the spectacular landscapes in the Lake District to create some of their most famous works.
And all three men were major influences in establishing the Romantic Movement.
Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, in the Lake District, in April 1770.
The place of his birth has now been renamed Wordsworth House.
From 1779 until 1787 he attended Hawkshead Grammar School; there he had his first experience of writing and reading poetry which he practiced extensively thanks to encouragement from his teachers.
He often walked into the countryside and got his inspiration from the Lakes scenery which surrounded him.
After his years at the small village grammar school in Hawkshead, one can only imagine how he felt when he departed for Cambridge university.
In 1795 while Wordsworth was staying in Dorset, he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.
This was the beginning of a stimulating and creative relationship.
Wordsworth travelled extensively throughout his life, especially in Europe and the Alps, but always returned to the Lake District; indeed, he passed away at Grasmere in 1850.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Devonshire in October, 1772, and Robert Southey in Bristol in 1774.
They became great friends at Cambridge, and in 1795 they met Wordsworth, who joined them as the third member of the group known as the Lake Poets - the poetical pioneers of the Romantic Movement.
Between the three of them, they helped revolutionize this period in English poetry, and the Lake District was the perfect backdrop for their inspiration - as it has continued to be to this day, for artists as diverse as William Heaton-Cooper and Beatrix Potter.
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