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There are well over a thousand sheets of fresh water in Lakeland – from minute ponds, peaty pools, reservoirs, upland and lowland tarns up to lakes the size of Windermere, England's largest lake at over 17 km long. The Big Lakes of Lakeland concentrates on the seventeen big lakes of the National Park. Most people cannot fail to see at least one of these if they come here. These big lakes give their names to the regional areas of the Park. They are the ones where people flock to their shores, where they sail, row, swim, sit beside or walk alongside. They have been photographed, painted, written about, eulogised in poetry, and in every way epitomise this extraordinary piece of upland Britain.
The Big Lakes of Lakeland will focus on the lakes as part of the landscape. It will describe the features of the lakes and explain why they are as they are. It will explore their origins, how they were shaped, how they change and evolve and what perhaps is their ultimate fate. It will explain the striking differences between the big lakes – the rockiness of some, the lowland mellow character of others. It is the shoreline features that most people experience – the bays, islands, peninsulas and beaches. The emphasis in The Big Lakes of Lakeland is on what the visitor can see and easily understand. It will not cover all the details that are known about life in the lakes, the flora and fauna or the complexities of the freshwater ecology. It does not tackle the problems of pollution or become involved with the issues of recreational pressure and use. It is hoped that this will be seen as an easy to read account of the landscape features of the lakes, a little about their history and origins and as a starter to learning more about this extraordinary piece of the English landscape.