The Lake District is a dream location for those who love to get closer to nature. With over 3000km of paths and bridleways, this beautiful national park has vast areas to explore, from the stunning and peaceful reflections at Tarn Hows, to the iconic and thrilling ridge walks around Helvellyn.

It’s a place where red squirrels and deer can be spotted amongst the trees, and where spring flowers create dazzling displays of colour. However, if you wish to ensure the natural beauty of the park is preserved for future generations, there are steps that everyone can take, whether you are visitor or a local resident, to improve and maintain the Lake District.

1. Volunteer

Friends of the Lake District

If you are on summer holiday, retired or have some spare time on your hands, why not volunteer with the Friends of the Lake District? You'll make new friends and help the local area at the same time!

If the Lake District has given you a host of wonderful memories, then why not consider giving something back in return? This summer, you could spend a small part of your holiday by helping out with one of the organisations tasked with preserving the Lake District. Friends of the Lake District host regular work parties for volunteers to carry out various tasks, including dry stone walling, tree maintenance, and general maintenance. You can find a list of dates of the work parties here and you will need to apply to become a volunteer before you can join in.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust also have regular conservation days at various locations around the Lake District and Cumbria, including beach cleans, planting, path creation and maintenance, and wildlife recording. You can find out more on their website, and again, you will need to register as a volunteer.

If you are local or are able to commit to several weeks of volunteering, then you could check out the volunteering opportunities available with the Lake District National Park Authority with several roles available, including gardening, visitor guides, and ranger assistants. The National Trust are always looking for volunteers to help support their properties and maintain the land they own, and you can find out more on their website.

2. Use Public Transport Wherever Possible

Bus along Lake Windermere

Bus along Lake Windermere (Photo thanks to

Nobody wants to spend their holiday on gridlocked country roads and trying to find that last available free parking space, so this summer, why not consider using public transport as an alternative to the car? You could use a bus, train, boat or bike as an alternative. For further information on alternative ways to travel around the Lake District check out our blog piece Five Car Free Ways to Explore the Lake District This Spring.

3. Bin It or Take It Home

Recycling concept

Bin it or recycle, but please don't leave it on the fells!

There is nothing worse than arriving at a place of natural beauty and finding it covered in litter. Most people who visit the fells and lakes of Lake District do appreciate the need to leave no trace of their time here, but, sadly, there is a growing number of people who think that it is not their responsibility to clean up after themselves.

Some people do bag up their rubbish and leave it behind, with the mistaken belief that the authorities will come and collect it, but that is not the case. There are no official litter collectors in the National Park, other than those who empty actual bins, so please take all your rubbish away with you and dispose of it appropriately.

Dog Waste

If you have a dog, please do not leave their waste in a bag that you then hang on a tree, on a gate post, or on the side of a path. This is becoming a significant problem in the Lake District, with the bags remaining far longer than the waste itself! As mentioned above, there isn’t a team of workers who will come and pick this up for you. Instead, you will need to take it away and dispose of appropriately.

Please do not leave it “somewhere safe” for you to collect later, as the amount of bags left behind demonstrates that many people forget to collect it on the way back. It’s worth noting that Forestry England (previously known as the Forestry Commission) who own several forests in the Lake District, have a “stick and flick” policy where dog owners are advised to flick any waste into the undergrowth, away from paths, with a stick, rather than using a bag that could result in littering.

Paws on Plastic

There is a brilliant new group called Paws on Plastic where dog owners all over the UK are committing to picking up a few pieces of rubbish along their walks and disposing of it or recycling it appropriately. If everyone just picked up a few pieces of litter along a walk they were going to take anyway, there would be far less to contend with. Whilst it may not be our rubbish to collect, we are all dwellers of Planet Earth and want to keep her beautiful for years to come!

4. Be Responsible With Sources of Fire

BBQ Grill

If you are given permission to BBQ where you are staying, be sure to BBQ responsibly and properly dispose of the ash when you are finished

Already this year we have seen a wild fire in the Lake District, with land at the base of Cat Bells being hit by a fire following a lengthy period of dry weather. These fires result in a devasting loss of habitat for wildlife and should not be considered a minor incident. If you are a smoker, please do make sure that you put out any finished cigarette carefully, and take the remains home with you to dispose of in a bin.

As the weather gets warmer, it can be tempting to bring a BBQ or light a campfire. You should be aware that legally, you must get the permission from the landowner before lighting any fires. If you do decide to have a campfire, then you should consider using a stove or proper BBQ rather than a campfire on the floor or a disposable BBQ.

Fires should not be lit anywhere near grass, heather, woodland, or anything else that could easily catch fire. Once you have finished, make sure the fire is fully extinguished and take away any remaining charcoal or unburnt wood. You should leave no trace of your fire, as the smallest spark can result in a catastrophe.

5. Shop Local

Keswick Centre

Support your local shops, such as the ones here in beautiful Keswick (chrisd2105 /

If you are looking for a souvenir, gift, or needing to buy food for your self-catered property, or you simply live in the Lakes, then please consider shopping locally wherever you can. The Lake District has a rich food heritage with a plethora of producers, and many of our towns have butchers and greengrocers that stock local meats, cheeses, fish, and vegetables. Not only will you be supporting Cumbrian farmers whose work helps maintain the beautiful landscapes of the Lake District, but you will also be reducing your own food miles, which will help with the fight against CO2 pollution and global warming. There are regular farmers markets across the county, including at Keswick and Penrith, where you can pick up a bargain.

Many of the towns in the Lake District have a wide selection of independent shops where you can buy gifts, clothing, toys, books, and outdoor equipment. Keswick, Ambleside, and Bowness-On-Windermere have a particularly fine selection of shops where you can spend a few hours browsing and possibly buying. Buying locally means that you are supporting Cumbrian traders who contribute to the local economy, bringing in more funds to help maintain the National Park.

6. Reduce Your Plastic Waste

Roots Refill Pantry

Roots Refill Pantry in Bowness-on-Windermere offers plastic-free shopping! Don't forget your tupperware! (Photo thanks to Roots)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, then thanks to various documentaries and campaigns you will be aware of the damage that plastic waste is causing the environment. You have probably heard about plastics in the ocean, but did you know that a recent study by Bangor University and Friends of the Earth found that micro plastics were present in every river and lake they tested, including at Ullswater where they discovered that every litre of water had an average of around 29 particles of micro-plastics. We still don’t know what the possible implications of plastics entering the food chain could be, but it’s unlikely to be anything positive.

If you are planning on visiting the Lake District this summer, then there are small steps you can take to reduce your plastic use. Bring your own reusable bags, or pick up a reusable canvass bag from a gift shop whilst you are here. If you are going out on a fell walk or having a picnic, then take your water in a reusable bottle or water bladder rather than buying bottled water. Many businesses and organisations in the Lake District have signed up to Refill, a campaign that aims to reduce plastic waste by getting businesses to sign up to provide free tap water to refill your bottles, including all the Lake District Youth Hostels, and several cafés, shops, and restaurants. You can use the Refill app on your phone to find your nearest station.

If you are staying in a self-catered property this summer, then remember to bring your Tupperware with you and you can purchase items from a plastic free grocery store. Roots Refill Pantry in Bowness-On-Windermere stocks a range of food, soaps, beauty products, and cleaning products that are sold on a weight basis, with no packaging. You simply need to bring your own jar, bottle, or tub and you can fill it up with the products of your choosing. Another Weigh is a similar store in Penrith, along with Cut the Wrap in Ulverston, whilst Goodness and Grain run a weekly zero waste market in Cockermouth.

7. Stick to the Paths

Path to Pike of Blisco Beneath Crinkle Crags

Please stick to the paths to avoid damaging the fells

The Lake District has a fabulous network of footpaths and bridleways that provide fantastic access to spectacular views and tranquil spots. It can be tempting to go off the path in search of the perfect photo or picnic spot, but by doing this you could cause unintentional damage.

Some plants and flowers are extremely delicate and liable to be damaged by trampling, whilst erosion on the fells is a real issue in places where people have taken short cuts off the paths. Please try and stick to the paths wherever possible to help protect both wildlife and the appearance of the fells.