Reading Passage 1
Messing about by the water
A. Many of the Lake District’s characteristics, on initial investigation, appear rather unappealing. Situated in the northwest of England in the county of Cumbria, the Lake District is the wettest part of England, reported by the U. K. met office to have an annual precipitation of more than 2000mm. Temperatures range between 3° in January to 15° in July, and the area has only 2.5 hours of sunshine a day. However, the Lake District National Park, one of only thirteen National Parks in the UK, has long attracted holiday makers and those with an artistic flair; poets, painters and photographers have all found inspiration in the scenery of the area. In fact, since Victorian times, the Lake District has been a destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat amidst scenic perfection; in part no doubt due to the poetry of William Wordsworth.
B. The Lake District is composed of more than 200 fells (the old northern English word for hill or mountain), the highest peak in Britain being Sca fell, climbing nearly one thousand metres above sea level. England’s topography is relatively flat, and the Lake District National Park is one of the rare mountainous regions to be found in the country. In fact, all land in England that rises above 3000 feet is to be found in the Lake District.
C. It is not surprising, given it name, that the Lake District also comprises a number of large stretches of water, although only one of these – Bassenthwaite Lake – has the official title of ‘lake’. Others, such as Windermere, Coniston Water, Ullswater or Buttermere, are not classed as lakes but are still used for water sports. Arguably the three most famous of these are Windermere, Ullswater and Coniston Water. Over 10 miles long, one mile wide and 220 feet deep, Windermere is the largest natural body of water in England. Around its shores are the towns of Ambleside and Bowness, both of which offer accommodation and food. Ullswater is the second largest, being slightly less long, wide and deep than Windermere, yet considered by many to be the most beautiful in the area, sometimes paralleled with Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Originally used to transport mail, workers and goods from Greenside lead mine, Ullswater’s three steamers ‘Raven’, ‘Lady of the Lake’ and ‘Lady Dorothy’ are now the main attractions of the area.
D. Coniston water is the smallest of the three, but still significant at five miles long, half a mile wide and 184 feet deep. Coniston also has other claims; the children’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ was based there. In addition world water speed records have been set on it, although with tragic consequences. On August the 19th 1939, Sir Malcolm Campbell set the world water speed record at over 141 miles per hour, but when his son, Donald Campbell, aimed to break the 300 mile an hour barrier some thirty years later his craft crashed, killing him. Donald Campbell had actually managed speeds in excess of 320 miles an hour, but the record could not be accepted as he did not complete the trip.
E. Historically, the abundant natural resources in the Lake District have dictated the industries which developed there. In Neolithic times, the area was a major source of stone, and from the 16th to the 19th centuries, mining opportunities shaped the lakeland industry. Copper, lead, silver, graphite and slate were all extracted, and nearby Keswick developed a strong grasp on the pencil industry as a consequence of the readily available materials in the area. Restricted mining is still in operation today, although most mining activity has been discontinued in favour of the main revenue generator of the area – tourism.