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The Lake District National Park is one of fourteen National parks in the United Kingdom. It lies entirely within Cumbria, and is one of England's few mountainous regions. All the land in England higher than three thousand feet above sea level lies within the National Park. The Lake District also contains Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
The Lake District is about 34 miles (55 km) across. Its features are a result of periods of glaciation, the most recent of which ended some 15,000 years ago. These include the ice-carved wide U-shaped valleys, many of which are now filled with the lakes that give the park its name. The upper regions contain a number of glacial cirques, which are typically filled with tarns. The higher fells are rocky, with lower fells being open moorland, notable for its wide bracken and heather coverage. Below the tree line, native oak woodlands sit alongside nineteenth century pine plantations. Much of the land is often boggy, due to the high rainfall. The Lake District is one of the most highly populated national parks. Its total area is near 885 square miles (2,292 kmē), and the Lake District was designated as a National Park in 1951. The central part is the lowest in terms of elevation. It takes the form of a long boot-shaped ridge running from Loughrigg Fell above Ambleside a popular tourist destination to Keswick, with Derwent Water on the west and Thirlmere on the east. The Langdale Pikes, with High Raise behind them, are another feature popular with walkers. The central ridge running north over High Seat is exceptionally boggy.
The south-western fells have as their northern boundary the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. These are particularly narrow and steep, with tight hairpin bends. The Furness Fells stand between Coniston and the Duddon Valley, which runs NE-SW through the centre of the area. On the other side of the Duddon is Harter Fell and the long ridge leading over Whitfell to Black Combe and the sea. The south of this region consists of lower forests and knolls, with Kirkby Moor on the southern boundary. The South-western Lake District ends near the Furness peninsulas, which leads to Cumbria's second largest settlement (Barrow-in-Furness).
The south-eastern area is the territory between Coniston Water and Windermere and east of Windermere. There are no high summits in this group; it is mainly low hills, knolls and bumpy terrain such as Gummer's How, Whitbarrow and Top o' Selside. The wide expanse of Grizedale Forest stands between the two lakes. Kendal and Morecambe Bay mark the edge.
The Lake District's geology is complex but well-studied. Its oldest rocks are the Skiddaw Slate series and the Borrowdale Volcanic series dating back to the Ordovician, some 500 million years ago. The Skiddaw Slates are found in the northern part of the park and were probably deposited in shallow seas; their thickness is unknown. The Borrowdale Volcanic rocks are more extensive and form the Lakes' highest peaks, being resistant to weathering. Later intrusions have formed individual outcrops of igneous rock in both these series. The other large rock group is the Silurian Windermere Group, made of Limestone that rests upon the volcanic rocks. Many smaller series are also present.
The Lake District's location on the north west coast of England, coupled with its mountainous geography, makes it the dampest part of England. The UK Met Office reports average annual precipitation of more than 2,000 millimetres (80 in), but with very large local variation. Although the entire region receives above average rainfall, there is a wide disparity between the amount of rainfall in the western and eastern lakes.