'Exceptional' Lake District Named As World Heritage Site

The Lake District has been awarded World Heritage Site status, Unesco has announced.

The region in north-west England joins sites including the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and Stonehenge on the prestigious list.

The international culture organisation tweeted: "Just inscribed as @UNESCO #WorldHeritage Site: The English Lake District."

There are now 31 World Heritage Sites in the UK, including the city of Bath, the Tower of London, Canterbury Cathedral and the Giant's Causeway.

A Unesco committee in Krakow, Poland, backed the national park in Cumbria - home to England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike - which was among 33 nominations all over the world.

The region is known for its soaring fells as much as its expansive lakes, including England's largest, Windermere, and deepest, Wastwater.

The Lakes also boasts sites of historical importance such as King Arthur's Round Table, said by English Heritage to be a neolithic earthwork henge believed to be the legendary monarch's jousting arena.

And it was an inspiration for some of the country's most beloved writers including Beatrix Potter, who owned Hill Top Farm, and poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge and John Ruskin.

Lord Clark of Windermere, who chaired the Lake District's bid, said the decision to recognise the region's culture, art and literature, as well as its landscape, was "momentous".

He said: "It is this exceptional blend which makes our Lake District so spectacularly unique and we are delighted Unesco has agreed.

"A great many people have come together to make this happen and we believe the decision will have long and lasting benefits for the spectacular Lake District landscape, the 18 million visitors we welcome every year and for the people who call the national park their home."

Helen Maclagan, culture director at the UK National Commission for Unesco, said the Lake District was "a priceless and irreplaceable asset not only to the UK but to humanity as a whole".

The bid was formally entered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Historic England and was the UK's only submission in 2016.

John Glen, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, said: "The Lake District is one of the UK's most stunning and ancient landscapes and I am thrilled it has been granted World Heritage Site status.

"It is a unique part of the world that combines a vibrant farming community with thousands of archaeological sites and structures that give us an amazing glimpse into our past.

"This decision will undoubtedly elevate the position of the Lake District internationally, boosting tourism and benefiting local communities and businesses."

MP Tim Farron, whose Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency is in south Cumbria, said: "This is fantastic news for our area, and for the local tourist economy.

"This well-deserved status is a formal recognition of the outstanding natural beauty of the Lake District, and will help to further promote our area as the UK's leading rural tourist destination.

"However, it is vital that the Lake District remains a viable place for local people to live.

"This decision is about protecting and promoting the natural and cultural heritage of our area, and must not be used as an excuse to freeze in aspic our vibrant rural communities.

"The Lake District must be a place where local people can afford to live, raise a family and find work so that rural communities can thrive."