Sep 05

Help us back the Lake District World Heritage Bid

Unesco inspectors visit the Lake District this month to assess our bid for World Heritage Status; Ullswater will be on their checklist as it is a very significant Valley in the history of life in the lakes. We thought we’d share some facts about Ullswater that make it so special. The first Cumbrians moved in as the glaciers retreated about 12,000 years ago. UIlswater was the most densely populated lakes valley in Prehistoric times, with possibly a larger resident population than it has now. The Romans had a large residential population too, mixing peacefully, (eventually), with the locals; the remains of Romano British circular stone huts can be found at the Bannerdale end of Martindale, below the Roman Road. That silent icon of our landscape – the drystone wall, was first recorded in the 11th C. The place names are a mix of Celtic, (from fighting the Scots, hence Glenridding and Glencoyne), and Old English Cumbric. Ullswater as a name first appears in 1220, from the Celtic ‘Uille’ for elbow – the bend in the lake as shown in our photograph from Gowbarrow looking South. Lead mining became an important industry from Medieval times onwards, Greenside, the largest, was closed only after the Second World War. The earliest ‘Tourists’ and travel writers, arrived in the late 16th century. They came for the vicarious thrill of being scared by untamed nature; Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, nearly a century later, was suitably horrified. Times change, and by the 18th C. Ullswater was the most highly regarded of the lakes in the Romantic and Picturesque movements, its winding course adds suspense to the unfolding of its vistas. Wordsworth and JMW Turner were both inspired by the magical beauty of Ullswater. Autumn in the valley is one of the most spectacular times to visit. Hopefully the visiting Unesco Committee will fall under Ullswater’s spell too, as will you.

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