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Lake District Industry and Agriculture


Lake District Accommodation, Attractions and Activities

Lake District Industry and Agriculture

Forestry operations on Harter FellHistorically, farming, in particular of sheep, was the major industry in the region. The breed most closely associated with the area is the tough Herdwick. Sheep farming remains important both to the economy of the region, as well as in preserving the landscape which visitors want to see. Some land is also used for silage and dairy farming. There are extensive plantations of non-native trees.

The area was badly affected by the foot-and-mouth outbreak across the United Kingdom in 2001. Thousands of sheep, grazing on the fellsides across the District, were destroyed. In replacing the sheep, one problem to overcome was that many of the lost sheep were heafed, that is, they knew their part of the unfenced fell and did not stray, with this knowledge being passed between generations. With all the sheep lost at once, this knowledge has to be re-learnt, and some of the fells have had discreet electric fences strung across them for a period of five years, to allow the sheep to "re-heaf".

In Neolithic times, the Lake District was a major source of stone axes, examples of which have been found all over Britain. The primary site, on the slopes of the Langdale Pikes, is sometimes described as a 'stone axe factory' of the Langdale axe industry. Some of the earliest stone circles in Britain are connected with this industry.

Mining, particularly of copper, lead (often associated with quantities of silver), baryte, graphite and slate, was historically a major lakeland industry, mainly from the 16th century to the 19th century. Coppiced woodland was used extensively to provide charcoal for smelting. Some mining still takes place today for example slate mining continues at the Honister Mines, at the top of Honister Pass. Abandoned mine-workings can be found on fell-sides throughout the district.

A typical Lake District scene, with verdant fields grazed by sheep in fields bounded by stone walls, a stone barn, white-washed houses, overlooked by a bracken-brown fell.The locally-mined graphite led to the development of the pencil industry, especially around Keswick.

In the middle of the 19th century, half the world textile industry's bobbin supply came from the Lake District area.

Over the past century, tourism has grown rapidly to become the area's primary source of income.

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