Tourism is at the core of our economy here in the Lake District. According to lakedistrict.gov.uk our fantastic National Park attracts more than 15.8 million visitors each year.
Tourism was not always our main source of ‘industry’, mining was historically a major Lakeland industry, mainly from the 16th century to the 19th century. However being such a rural area it will be no surprise that it was farming that traditionally provided the main supply of income to most inhabitants.
As with many other rural areas, as the UK develops and we import more food and resources from abroad, farmers are struggling and in order to sustain their business, need to expand their services. Many farmers have diversified into tourism, now offering accommodation for visitors. A successful example of a farm which has altered its focus is www.duckysparkfarm.co.uk. This was a working farm but is now a major attraction to both tourist and local families looking for a day out. They provide a children’s play centre, petting farm and cafe. Other farms have opened farm shops selling high quality organic goods, whereas others have converted barns into holiday cottages or have built lodges and caravan parks on their land.
How it all began
As the 18th century was drawing to a close, the Lakes began to attract people from outside the area. The main instigator of modern tourism for the Lakes District, was in 1778 when Father Thomas West produced ‘A Guide to the Lakes’. Subsequently the works of poets such as Wordsworth, Southey and Coleridge increased in popularity. People were enticed to visit when they read these great writers describe the breathtaking scenery and magnificence of the Lake District. William Wordsworth then published his own ‘Guide to the Lakes’ in 1810, it was incredibly popular encouraging many more visitors.
In the 19th century political problems in Europe grew, the more wealthy tourists who may have travelled on the continent, were more inclined to travel within the UK which was great for The Lake District. A wider range of social classes made day trips to The Lakes following the completion of the railway from Kendal to Windermere in 1847. Better public transport links enabled more visitors to come from the industrial areas of Northern England.
The 1900’s then saw a surge in visitor numbers with the growing popularity of the motorised vehicle. Improvements in the roads and widespread car ownership led to ever increasing numbers of visitors from the 1960’s.
Today the Lake District is still a hugely popular place to visit for both Brits and people from overseas, although we do face competition from cheap holidays in the sun. But as we ride a tough economic climate and see increasing awareness of carbon footprint caused by flying there is a renewed interest in holidays in Britain and indeed the Lakes.