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Lake District

How many lakes are there in the Lake District? A popular pub quiz question, but also a source of confusion for visitors, and even some Lakeland locals.

In this post, we have decided to answer some of the most common questions we receive on the Lake District and its many bodies of water.


How many lakes are in the Lake District?

Bassenthwaite Lake

The answer is one. There is only one official lake in the Lake District, which is Bassenthwaite Lake. This is an answer that shocks even the most seasoned of visitors to the Lake District (and some locals!).

Technically, there are more lakes in the Lake District, however Bassenthwaite is the only one to have the word “lake” in its title. The rest are instead regarded as “tarns”, “meres” or “waters”.

All three refer to different types of lakes – i.e. a tarn is a smaller glacial lake, often higher up in the fells, a mere is a wide lake that is often shallow compared to its size.


Which is the deepest lake in the Lake District?

Wastwater Lake District

The deepest (unofficial) lake in the Lake District is Wastwater, at 74 metres or 243 feet deep. It is also the deepest lake in England.

Wastwater is located in the Wasdale, a valley situated in the Western Lake District close to the West Cumbria Coast.


Which is the largest lake in the Lake District?

Bowness-on-Windermere Lake District

Windermere is the largest body of water in the Lake District. It is one mile wide, 10.5 miles long and 220 feet deep.

It is also the largest lake in England, with Rutland Water being the second largest.


How much water does Windermere hold?

As England’s largest lake, it can be assumed that Windermere holds a lot of water. Overall, the lake holds an incredible 300 billion litres of water.


Are there any man made lakes in the Lake District?

Thirlmere Reservoir

Yes, there are a number of reservoirs in locations across the Lake district. Two of the most well known man made lakes would by Thirlmere and Haweswater. Both of the reservoirs were created in order to provide the city Manchester with water.

Haweswater was created by drowning the valley of Mardale, including its two villages, Measand and Mardale. Thirlmere was created by submerging the villages of Amboth and Wythburn.


Where do the terms ‘mere’ and ‘tarn’ come from?

Blea Tarn

The words ‘mere’ and ‘tarn’ come from old Norse words. A mere refers to a lake that is shallow in relation to its size, and can be linked the the Saxon ‘mere’ that refers to a sea. A tarn is a small mountain lake, and its name is linked to the old Norse word tjörn meaning pond.


Can you swim in any of the lakes in the Lake District?

Wast Water in the Lake District NationalPark in the UK. Wild Swimming

Yes, wild swimming is a popular activity in the Lake District. You can swim in most of the lakes, excluding reservoirs or any that are privately owned. Some of the most popular places to swim are Buttermere, Wastwater and Crummock Water, as they have less boat traffic.

When swimming in the Lake District take care to make sure that you follow the SwimSafe code. Make sure to wear a brightly coloured swim cap and tow a bright float, and never swim alone. It is often hard for boats to see swimmers, so ensuring you are visible is important.