Everyone can help look after the Lakes. Here's how...

Dog walkers at Derwentwater, Lake District, Cumbria.

Whether we're swimming, cycling, horse-riding or walking the dogs, we can all help to look after the Lake District.


The Lake District has lots of great spots for outdoor swimming, where you’ll see the mountains and surrounding landscape from a different perspective.

All of the lakes, tarns and rivers play an important role in the ecology of this special part of the world, so we need to look after them.

Here’s what you can do to help look after the Lakes whilst you’re swimming:

Check and leave any weeds or other organisms that might get stuck to your wetsuit in the water or on the shore.

Clean your swimming gear before and after you use it. Invasive non-native species and diseases are able to ‘hitchhike’ on equipment and clothing when you go for a swim.

Once you’re done, dry your equipment, as some species can live for many days in damp conditions.

You can find out more about biosecurity here. 

Using public paths and bridleways

Walking or cycling is a healthy and sustainable way to get to the National Trust places and enjoy the outdoors, and the Lakes have an accessible network of trails to make this a hassle-free option.

There are different types of paths and bridleways you can use:

Public footpaths
Marked with yellow arrows, for walkers only.

Public bridleways
Marked with blue arrows, for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.

Restricted byways
Marked with purple arrows,for walkers, horse riders, cyclists and horse drawn vehicles.

Byways open to all traffic
Marked with red arrows, for walkers, horse riders, cyclists, horse drawn vehicles, motorbikes and cars.

Permitted paths
Marked with white arrows, for walkers, unless it says otherwise.

Open access land
For walkers only (sometimes restrictions apply at certain times – so look out for signs).

Designated for cyclists and walkers but not for horse-riders.

There are simple rules for all trail users:

On bridleways and byways be aware of other users and listen for their approach. If you can, move to the left and let others pass to the right.

On busy bridleways and byways, try and avoid walking in large groups across the path.

If you have a dog, please keep it under close control or on a short lead as sudden movements can startle horses and surprise others. Please clean up after your dog and take the poo bag with you.

Horse Riders
Ride at a pace appropriate to the path surface and local conditions. Hi-visible clothing is recommended, both on and off-road.
Be prepared to slow down and stop, and try to move your horse off the route before it dungs.

Give way to walkers and horse-riders. You can use your bell or give a polite advance call to let others know you’re coming. To stay in control, it’s a good idea to slow down and give horses and livestock plenty of room.

Whether you’re walking, cycling or horse riding please remember to leave the gates as you find them,  keep your dogs under effective control and take all your litter home with you.

Dog walking and sheep worrying

Dog walkers are important guardians of the countryside, often combining their love of dogs with their love of the outdoors.

Many of the popular Lake District walks cross through sheep farmland, so it’s important to keep dogs under close control.  The National Trust looks after 90 tenanted farms in the Lakes and many of these are sheep farms.

Sheep worrying can and does have dreadful consequences, both for the farmer and for dog owners, so we’re asking everyone to keep their four legged friends close at heel and under control near livestock.

On open access land they have to be kept on short leads from March 1 to July 31 – and all year round near sheep. Close supervision is also required on public rights of way.

Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes can also abort through the stress of being chased. 

Sheep fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, and lambs can die from starvation or hypothermia when they become separated from their mother and fail to find her again.

There’s nothing worse than seeing your dog respond, often unexpectedly, to livestock by chasing after them and being powerless to stop them. So we’re grateful for everyone’s efforts to keep dogs under close control and prevent further harm to sheep in the Lake District.