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What Makes the Lake District a SSSS?

The Lake District meets four key criteria for a SSSS:

Spiritual connection – strong sense of connection with the natural world experienced through outdoor activities, and the beauty, awe and wonder that is present in the mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers.
Spiritual heritage – long history of religious and non-religious spiritual connection.
Spiritual inspiration – multiple examples of the spiritual qualities of the landscape inspiring social and environmental action.
Spiritual engagement – current initiatives to engage visitors and locals with the spiritual essence of the Lake District.


The spiritual significance of the Lake District is not chiefly to be found in traditional places of worship or religious sites, since these are widely found elsewhere.  Rather the Lake District is marked out by the beauty, awe and wonder of its hills, lakes and valleys.  Whilst these are not unique in having a spiritual dimension, they have a heritage and history of spiritual inspiration that is widely documented. The area has also attracted countless artists, writers, walkers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts who have sensed a spirit flowing through the landscape that goes beyond rational thought or physical presence.  This has acted as an inspiration for numerous initiatives that celebrate, protect or enhance the natural wonders of the region.  Furthermore, the intimacy of this ancient landscape lends it a richness and diversity that enhances the experience and offers multiple ways of encountering the spiritual, whether this be in the soft light of dawn, the towering buttresses of a cathedral-like cliff, or the gentle burbling of a playful beck. 

In recent times, the Lake District has also spawned organisations that are engaging people spiritually. In addition to the traditional church, the Kentigern School is devoted to ‘fierce contemplation’, whilst Mountain Pilgrims seeks to re-imagine the mountain experience to discover the ‘thin places’. A pilgrimage route based on the ‘mountain cathedrals’ of the Lake District has also been established.