10 things you'll learn about the Lake District from the BBC’s new documentary

Thought you knew the Lake District? Discover a whole year’s worth of trivia about the nation’s most magnificent landscape in just 60 minutes...

Last updated: 15 February 2017 - 5.17pm

Nothing stands still in England’s largest national park. Using a huge range of photographic techniques to capture the continuous changes of the landscape, The Lake District: A Wild Year gives a new and unique perspective on a year-in-the-life of the Lake District, its wildlife and the people who live here.

Here are 10 facts you’ll learn from the programme:

1. 16 million people visit the Lake District each year.

2. The Lake District’s iconic landscapes and traditions are shaped by generations of Herdwick sheep farming. This native breed of sheep are born with black fleeces which gradually turn white as the sheep grow older (a bit like us humans).

3. Everybody knows Lake Windermere is the largest lake in England, measuring a magnificent 10.5 miles long. But did you know that it hosts the largest outdoor swimming event in Europe each summer, when 10,000 brave souls take the plunge into its bracing waters?

4. There have been pleasure cruises on Windermere’s waters since the 1840s. What started out as one single vessel crossing the lake once a day has turned into a huge tourist operation – Windermere Lake Cruises now runs over 100 cruises per day. One of the most celebrated cruise ships, the Tern, is over 125 years old and carries 10,000 tourists a day.

5. Over 1,000 tourists visit the house and garden of the Lake District’s most famous resident, Beatrix Potter, every day.

6. The Lake District was so dear to Beatrix Potter, she used her fortune to buy up thousands of acres of farmland and fell in order to preserve its traditional way of life. She was a key figure in saving the traditional Herdwick sheep from extinction, becoming an expert Herdwick sheep breeder and the first female president designate of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders' Association. When she died in 1943 she left 14 farms, sheep and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust.

7. Come rain, shine or snow, an experienced mountaineer must climb the peak Helvellyn every day to gather vital information about weather and snow conditions.

8. The Lake District is one of the last Red Squirrel strongholds in the UK. Potter’s cheeky character Squirrel Nutkin was inspired by her childhood trips to the area.

9. The Lake District’s iconic drystone walls have been constructed using the same techniques and the same stones for hundreds of years. But the walls are more than just boundaries – they have their very own ecosystem. In the summer heat, they provide a cool sanctuary for slugs and spiders, who lay their eggs in the walls’ nooks and crannies.

10. Every June, Herdwicks are rounded up from the fells for their annual haircut. Shearing a whole flock can take several days, but a highly skilled sheep shearer can de-fleece up to 300 sheep a day. Talk about dyed-in-the-wool farmers.

Watch The Lake District: A Wild Year at 9pm, Friday 17 February, BBC Two

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