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Lakes have more to offer than geology

Drumlins, moraines, mountains and valleys in various shapes of the alphabet - this is how the Lake District tends to feature in school geography lessons.

Less likely to be discussed are the conflicts that exist when a smallish, isolated area of some of the most gorgeous countryside in Britain is under siege from an army of visitors whose presence may help destroy the thing they love.

Thousands of jobs in the Lakes depend upon tourism, but those needs have to be balanced against the precarious existence of farmers and also the problems caused by cars, coaches and even walkers' boots. From a distance the mountains appear inviolate: get closer to many of the most popular ridges and it is impossible to miss the scar across the landscape that thousands of feet have unwittingly made of a once-grassy path.

It is the National Trust, which owns and administers 50,000 hectares of the Lake District, that is responsible for balancing the needs of the landscape, farmers, tourism, visitors and conservationists.

It has no idea how many school parties visit each year but it is keen that schools learn there is more to the area than glaciers and geology. So it has produced a glossy resource book for teachers, tackling some of the different issues.

Adrian Marklew, assistant public affairs manager for the National Trust, said: "We want to encourage people to understand the issues. It is a fascinating area, and there are so many live issues here apart from geology. The human geography is changing all the time."

Despite growing concerns about the pressure caused on the area by visitors, Mr Marklew said the book was not meant to dissuade school parties. The intention was to help schools understand more about the man-made as well as natural forces shaping the area.

Hot issues in the Lakes recently have included the row over a proposed 5mph speed limit on Windermere, which finally went to the Secretary of State for the Environment, and new suggestions of traffic restrictions which might mean some of the popular passes being made one-way only for coaches, or reserved for residents alone.

Another Trust initiative is to run minibus trips for schools, taking parties to meet local workers, such as farmers and conservation wardens, who can answer questions about the everyday life of the area.

The Lake District: a resource book for teachers costs Pounds 4.50 and is available, by post, from the Public Affairs Department, The National Trust, The Hollens, Grasmere, Cumbria LA22 9QZ

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