The Waters, Tarns, Fells and Dales of Northwest England
The Lake District
When the last ice age ended 12,000 years ago and the ice finally receded, trees began to grow forming forests and the great trenches filled with deep waters. Over the millennia, humans arrived and left their influences. Geological forces, wind, and rain changed the landscape, while grazing sheep made their marks, too, creating the amazingly lovely vistas and panoramas that feel as if this is still a wilderness even though it is settled and visited by great throngs of people!
The Lake District might also be called the Fells District for the fells and pikes (the mountains) are as dramatic as the water bodies. Shaped by volcanic eruptions, the lavas, tuffs and igneous rocks created these great peaks, some of England's highest, adding to the drama of the vistas and creating challenges for climbers.
William Wordsworth, the great romantic poet was born in Cockermouth, one of the most charming towns in the Lake District and lived much of his life in the area. His poetry was inspired by his surroundings, the woods and meadows around Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Today, Wordsworth fans flock here but the village manages to retain much of its charm.
The landscape offered special challenges to the railroads; the Ribbleshead Viaduct, opened in 1874, is an example of extraordinary railroad engineering with its long series of arches spanning a broad valley. The Yorkshire limestone offered opportunities for mining and lime production.
The town prospered on trade, participating in the wool and slave trade along with other types of cargo. Goods were unloaded at Saint George's Quay along the River Lune and well preserved warehouses now serve as apartments. Silting of the river caused trade to dwindle so in 1787 the Glasson Dock was developed downstream. A few years later, the Lancaster Canal (completed in 1826) was dug to revive the economic opportunities of the town. This canal required some of the most complex engineering of the time. The Lune Aqueduct was built to carry the water of the canal over the River Lune while locks regulated the canal's level as it traversed from the sea to the town.
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