Earlier this year it was announced that the Lake District had been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This prestigious award was given in recognition of the unique heritage and outstanding natural beauty of the area. It was an amazing achievement and it’s likely to bring more tourists to the area. However, for those just outside of the national park boundary, there is perhaps a more subdued atmosphere, as once again, attention is drawn away from Cumbria’s main towns.

Imagine then, what would happen if an extraordinary discovery took place beneath Penrith, one of Cumbria’s largest towns that lies just outside of the World Heritage Site. For example, how would locals and visitors react if a giant, underground lake was discovered several hundred metres below Penrith and the Rheged Centre? Would there be calls to include Penrith in the national park boundary? Should it be open to the public or left as a hidden treasure?

Lowthermere – The Lake District’s Newest Lake?

Underground Lake

You have heard of Windermere, Buttermere, Thirlmere, and Derwent Water, along with the others that make up the 16 large bodies of water that form the Lake District. But have you heard of Lowthermere? According to geologists who have been examining the area, a 700-acre basin with an underground lake has been discovered under Penrith and the surrounding areas, including Rheged, where temporary access for members of the public has been created. It’s raising new questions about the nature of the Lake District, such as how we define the area, and whether tourists should be able to access this currently untouched underworld.

Wait? What? There’s a Lake Under Penrith?

Kayaker floating in water in cave

Okay, we may have fibbed a little bit. But the idea is intriguing, which is why, as part of the C-Art Festival (a contemporary arts festival taking place across Cumbria from 8th to 17th September, 2017) a fascinating art installation has been created in Rheged. The installation is the brainchild of the Captain Boomer Collective, a group of artists from Belgium who have created installations across Europe, usually with a nautical theme.

It is a 30-minute long piece of theatre that has been adapted from their internationally successful show, Skagt, and explores the myths and legends of the Lake District, and questions what makes the area’s identity so special.

How to See Lowthermere

You can visit Lowthermere for just £4 per person at Rheged. The installation is accessible via a flight of steps with a handrail, and the area itself is very enclosed. You must book a time slot, either online in advance of your visit, or on the day at Rheged. Visit the Rheged Centre's official website for more information and to book tickets.