view page content
Lake District world heritage main image

The National Trust and the Lake District’s World Heritage Site bid

18 April 2017

World Heritage Blog post courtesy of

The National Trust’s places here in the Lakes are up and running for 2017. So what’s next? Well something big is expected. In July we’ll hear whether the Lake District has been successful in its bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The excitement is building.

The Lakes have global significance as a ‘cultural landscape’. Their uniqueness, or in UNESCO-speak Outstanding Universal Values are deemed as; Identity - in the way man has changed the landscape over hundreds of years of working with the land; Inspiration - how the Lake District itself has inspired man and his creativity, to become a much loved place; and Conservation - as a valued destination, it’s become worthy of protecting and conserving, so playing an important role in the birth of the global conservation movement.

It is this last Outstanding Universal Value that is particularly important for us. The on-going protection of the Lake District is interwoven with the National Trust’s history and the role we play in looking after the Lakes today. Early environmental pioneers like Wordsworth and Ruskin grew the public’s love for the Lakes and raised their awareness of the challenges it faced from industry and development. Towards the end of the 19th century, one of our founders Lakes-based Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, himself faced with the prospect of Grasmere Isle’s sale, recognised that no organisation existed to protect the Lake District from private ownership and potential development.

Sir Robert Hunter and Octavia Hill had likewise been discussing the need for a national organisation which would hold lands for the public. It was the private sale of important sites, including Grasmere Island that led to the formation of the National Trust. In November 1893, the first official meeting took place between the three founding members, Rawnsley, Hill and Hunter. Just over a year later on 12 January 1895, the National Trust was founded.

The special relationship between the Lakes and the National Trust continues today. We look after over a fifth of the land in the Lake District National Park, working to keep it looking beautiful and healthy, working with our local partners to support communities and their way of life, and working to provide memorable experiences for visitors. Learn more at and share your stories on social media using #lookingafterthelakes

About the author

National Trust

We’re a charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy.