Lake District Case Study Tourism Gcse Science

Visitors are attracted to glacial areas by the scenery and to participate in outdoor pursuits. As a result there is a demand for more visitor facilities such as hotels and leisure complexes, car parks, marinas and cable cars.

Case study: conservation and management in the Lake District

Many of the impacts of tourism are positive, but others present challenges which need to be overcome if tourism in the Lake District is to be sustainable [sustainable: Doing something in a way that minimises damage to the environment and avoids using up natural resources, eg by using renewable resources. ].

Advantages of tourism

Ambleside in the Lake District

  • Tourism provides employment and income for local people.
  • People choose to stay in the area, which maintains other essential services such as schools and hospitals.
  • Services provided for the use of tourists, eg leisure facilities, also benefit local people.


Water skiing on Windermere

  • Employment can be seasonal and wages low.
  • House prices in the area can rise due to a demand for second homes.
  • School leavers often look for work in larger settlements due to low wages and high house prices. This causes rural depopulation.
  • Local shops on the margins of profitability often close to make way for more profitable gift shops and tea rooms. This leaves local people without essential services, eg butchers and greengrocers.
  • Traffic causes pollution and narrow roads can become congested in high season.
  • Large numbers of hikers cause footpath erosion, which is expensive to repair.
  • Watersports cause erosion of lake shores and there can be conflicts of interests between different lake users.

Back to Glacial landscapes and processes index

The Lake District National Park

The Lake District National Park is England’s largest park and includes Scafell Pike - its highest mountain, Wastwater - its deepest lake and thriving communities like Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere.  There are42,400 permanent residentsand a huge amount of activities for visitors on offer, including walking, climbing, cycling, boat cruises and various museums. Current surveys show that at least 15.8 million visitors come to the Lake District each year spending a total of £925 million! Most come to enjoy the scenery, peace and quiet and walking but many others visit specific attractions or take part in an outdoor activity. There is also the Beatrix Potter Museum.


They stay in a mixture of self-catering and serviced accommodation. The National Park Authority's current challenge is finding ways of encouraging sustainable tourism without further damaging the very landscape which visitors come to enjoy. Indeed public access to the uplands or fells is unrestricted, and this can pose problems.


Lake Windemere attracts over 1 million visitors on its own each year!  This makes sustainability difficult to achieve with such large visitor numbers. 

Problems in the Lake District and attempts at management

Limited supply of property

The limits placed upon development in the Lake District means that new houses are seldom built.  There has also been a rise in the number of people from outside of the Lake District buying up property for a second home they can use to holiday in.  These 2 factors have pushed up house prices in the Lake District and made it very difficult for local people (especially those on low wages) to own their own property in the Lake District. The ownership of second homes (15% of homes in the Lake district are second homes of holiday lets) has knock on or secondary problems because holiday homes are unoccupied for most of the year – this can increase crime and means people are not in the towns and villages using local services.  This has a bad effect on the community and means that local services such as schools and shops can be under pressure for closure. Housing is private, so there is very little local councils can do apart from build more properties to rent to locals.

Traffic problems

89% of visitors come to the Lake District by car, often just for the day.  In a region where roads are often narrow and winding, and towns were constructed before the invention of the motor car this can pose massive problems.  Congestion, traffic jams and parking are major issues, and people can park on grass verges in desperation, narrowing the road and making congestion even worse.  These problems can be overcome in 2 ways – improving the road network and improving public transport.

Environmental problems

There is a wide array of environmental problems associated with tourism in the Lake District.  Aside from common problems with litter, there exists footpath erosion, lakeside erosion and air pollution.  The increased number of cars damages the air from car exhausts, and also people park on grass verges, damaging the ground parked upon.  Footpath erosion occurs because of the sheer numbers of people using popular routes.  According to the Park Authority, 4 million people walk an average of 6km each year.  The pressure of these people’s feet damages plants and soil, making soil erosion possible.   These issues are worst in Honey pot or popular areas, which also suffer from the stresses of overcrowding, parking problems and second homes.


As shown above Tourism in the Lake District faces a range of threats and challenges. These include competing destinations via low cost airlines; accessibility issues in terms of increasing congestion on the M6 and the impact of tolling; the need to significantly raise the quality standard of the tourism offer including the honeypot towns; and a lack of nationally significant cultural attractions.

Tourism is managed in many ways within the Lake District National Park;

Environmental damage and honeypots

The Northwest Regional development agency stated that an “active zoning” approach would help; this would focus tourists in honeypot areas such as Windemere and Keswick whilst protecting other areas from high tourist numbers. It also suggested a Market Towns Initiative, to include a number of the key towns within and around the Lake District National Park - Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick, Ulverston, Cockermouth, Millom and Egremont. Proposed schemes include improving the public realm (space) in both Windermere and Ambleside, and developing speciality tourism in Keswick.



The Upland Path Landscape Restoration Project (UPLRP) was a 10 year project (2002 to 2011) which set out to repair the majority of landscape scars caused by the erosion of fells paths in the Lake District. They used Stone Pitching which involves digging stone into the ground to form good solid footfalls. This ancient technique is used extensively in the central fells using stone which is naturally occurring. In February 2004 £914,841 had been spent on this project.

Case study – Whiteless Pike, Buttermere

The two photos are from the same location near Buttermere. The path had become so deep and loose that a second path had developed alongside. Soil was being eroded into nearby streams. Management was only needed for 20m of path along a steep gradient. The solution was to use local stone to pitch the path. (Source)


Transport initiatives have focussed on public transport, sustainability and getting people out of their cars. The Lake District's roads were not designed for car use which is one reason why that long, long queue is still with us. Statistics tell us the other. Ninety two percent of visitors drive to the Lake District. That's 92 percent of an estimated 16 million people a year.

The B4 network for example includes a Cross Lakes Shuttle which links the lakes of Windermere and Coniston Water and services the honey pot sites of Hawkshead, Grizedale and Tarn Hows. The Shuttle has an integrated timetable and through-ticketing and there are cycle racks on the boats and minibuses that provide the service.

Another sustainable travel option is the ‘Give the Driver a Break’ scheme which is local authority-led and designed to get people out of their cars.

In 2012 Government funding of £7 million was secured for a three-year scheme called 'Drive Less, See More'. It has an ambitious goal: a unified 'boats, bikes, boots and buses' network throughout the national park. Popular walking routes are being connected to public transport services.  Cycleways and footpaths are also being brought together. This initiative wants to cut 11,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and ease congestion in visitor honeypots of Bowness, Windermere, Ambleside, Coniston and Grasmere. A bike-friendly bus has also been launched.

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