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The Lake District World Heritage Site and the John Muir Trust

10 August 2018

How is the John Muir Trust working with the natural – and cultural - landscape of the Lake District World Heritage Site?

The John Muir Trust values and celebrates the wildness of the English Lake District World Heritage Site including its mountains, woods and lakes. We recognise that recreational challenge and experience of wildness interact with both the natural habitats and features of the Lake District and its cultural landscape.

Through our main engagement initiative, the John Muir Award, the John Muir Trust has had a well-established presence in Cumbria since 2002. More recently through management of Glenridding Common, the John Muir Trust has taken on a responsibility in its work to maintain the Lake District’s ‘outstanding universal value’ as a cultural, natural, and recreational landscape.  Our work aligns well with the three core elements of the English Lake District World Heritage Site, of Identity, Inspiration and Conservation.


  • At Glenridding Common the John Muir Trust is committed to the agro-pastoral land use and its cultural significance. We work with graziers to maintain sheep gathering routes, and we engage people in understanding the inter-relationship of mountain environments, cultural themes and Commons and Commoning.


  • Around 3000 people each year make a connection with the spectacular landscape through curiosity, outdoor activity and quiet contemplation to achieve a John Muir Award. The Award promotes understanding and values-based learning in a spirit of fun and adventure.
  • This year a John Muir Trust AGM and national Members’ Gathering held at Glenridding reacquainted and introduced members to the natural and cultural landscape of the Lake District, highlighting the strong sense of the importance of the Lake District to local communities.
  • The employment of a young local Glenridding Common Ranger has increased capacity to engage with the public and with outdoor learning groups.


  • At Glenridding Common the John Muir Trust works with graziers, local community, youth and National Park Partnership organisations to identify actions to enhance wildlife and natural habitats, as well as mitigate flood risk, visitor pressure, footpath erosion and biodiversity loss.
  • A volunteer conservation work programme encompasses both John Muir Trust-led activity as well as partnership working with the Friends of the Lake District, and the University of Leeds (at Hardknott Forest).
  • In achieving a John Muir Award each participant meets a Conserve challenge, taking active responsibility for a wild place. The collective impact of this activity locally can be seen in a Lake District National Park Summary and nationally in a Conserve Audit 2015.

John Muir took inspiration from Wordsworth and Coleridge, recognising that wild places were essential in their capacity to nurture and uplift imagination, creativity and spirit. Such influences, Muir’s understanding of the natural world, and recognition of threats to it led to his campaign which influenced the creation of a global family of National Parks – all part of the story of how the Lake District inspired the earliest years of the conservation movement.

The John Muir Trust in the Lake District

About the author

Graham Watson, John Muir Award Manager