Geosight #5: The English Lake District

The Lake District in north-west England has become the beautiful place it is via a complex range of causes. It is on the edge of Europe and has a harsh climate in which its sub-1000m mountains can be as challenging as peaks three times as big in the Alps.

This distinctive area of lakes and mountains comes in two main parts. One, made of softer rocks such as slates, features rounded hills and comparatively easy walking. The other, carved out from igneous rocks, produces craggy landscapes that are more dangerous to the unwary as well as being more spectacular. It includes Scafell Pike, England's highest peak at 978m above sea level. From about 25,000 to 15,000
years ago, the Lake District was the source of many large glaciers that wended their way far to the south. The high valleys where they began can still be seen today, along with a full array of glacier-related features such as tills, moraines, drumlins and distinctive u-shaped valleys. Where two high cwms from which a glacier began sit alongside one another, a knife-edge ridge such as Striding Edge is left as a challenge for the walker.

Many of the Lake District valleys were cut very deep by ice, and it is these that have formed the sixteen large lakes that give the area its name.