North East of England
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The Lake District
England's North is not an exactly defined region, and different sources give varying definitions of its boundaries. Nevertheless this area, extending from the River Tees to the border with Scotland, is culturally a region of its own.
Northern England stretches until the Scottish border, and comprises the counties of Northumberland, Cumbria (which includes the former historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland), North Yorkshire, and County Durham.
In addition, it comprises the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear (conurbation of Tyneside, with the City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and the City of Sunderland,) and the Teesside metropolitan area (with the towns of Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, and Redcar), which make this region more differentiated and geograhically eclectic.
A jewel of the North is the Lake District (pictured right: Loughrigg Tarn), a distinctive, unique rural area within the Cumbrian mountains considered one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of the United Kingdom, so isolated that it retains a strong sense of local identity quite separate from the rest of this region. The Lake District National Park is the central, most visited part of the territory, and is the largest national park in England. This is one of the few mountainous areas in a country like England which is totally flat or gently hilly: indeed all the land in England higher than 3,000 feet is inside the Lake District National Park. The highest peak is Scafell Pike. Cumbria has not only England's tallest mountains but also the most rugged ones.
The Lake District, so called because it contains 15 large lakes, the biggest of which is Windermere, is a landscape of beautiful fells, lakes, mountains, villages, towns and beaches and popular with holidaymakers, famous for its associations with poets like William Wordsworth, who became known as the Lake Poets.
Rydal Mount Cumbria is another landmark of the county and of the Lake District. It is the historic family home of the poet William Wordsworth, near Ambleside, surrounded by spectacular gardens with a great variety of rare shrubs and trees and breathtaking views of Lake Windermere and Rydal Water.
The Lake District National Park, the Solway coast, the northern Pennines, Hadrian's Wall, and part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park are among the attractions of Cumbria, contributing to the scenic landscape of this county.
North of England economy & culture
Cumbria is England's second largest county, covering 6810 square kilometres (2629 miles). From medieval times Cumbria, along with Northumberland, mined iron core, lead and silver. Mining has now ceased but some steel is still made in south Cumbria. The main industry in Cumbria is power production at the Sellafield nuclear plant. Barrow-in-Furness, in the county of Cumbria, had in the late 19th century the biggest steel-making facility in the world. At the same time it became an important shipbuilding town, which it still is. Other Barrow's major industries are construction, the production of nuclear submarines, chemicals, paper, and electronics.
A similar fate as Cumbria's mining befell the county of Durham, where coal mining was in the past the biggest industry but the last mine closed by the end of the 20th century, and the principal activities are now engineering, pharmaceuticals production, and service industries.
Northumberland used to have shipbuilding and glass-making industries, but they have also declined. Now the county makes pottery and electrical machinery.
The North's local sentiment expresses itself in Tyneside folk songs; the coal-mining villages are another testament of the traditional life of the region.
In Northumberland is the largest forest in the United Kingdom, the Kielder Forest. With an area of 50,000 hectares and a large reservoir, Kielder Water, in the centre of the forest, it is a major timber producer.
The Northumberland National Park, near the Scottish border, is home to interesting walk trails, including the beautifully desolate Cheviot Hills, which have some of Britain's best-preserved prehistoric hillforts, and Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail. Hadrian's Wall is Britain's longest monument stretching for 73 miles, and its impressive central section lies within the Park.
Cities & towns. Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham & others
The largest urban areas of Northern England are in the east. Newcastle-upon-Tyne is the biggest city. The metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear lies around the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear. The conurbation of Tyneside, of which Newcastle is part, is the 6th most populous conurbation in England.
Newcastle, founded in Roman times and named Pons Aelius, is on the north bank of the River Tyne, is an important industrial centre, serving as a commercial centre for the whole Tyneside conurbation. It has a famous football team, Newcastle United, and a very distinct dialect, considered one of the best loved and oldest of all Britain's dialects, called Geordie, name given also to its inhabitants. The most characteristic, typical view of the city is that of the Tyne Bridge, its best recognizable landmark (pictured right).
Sunderland is another city in Tyneside, with centuries old history. It used to be called Sunderland-near-the-Sea and it developed a port for coal and salt trade, with the growth of a related shipbuilding industry. In the first half of the 20th century it became the biggest shipbuilding town in the world. The river Wear flows through the city of Sunderland.
Tyneside used to be the UK's main producer of salt, extracted from the North Sea. An interesting place to visit is Tynemouth, a village and historic resort at the mouth of the River Tyne, between South Shields and Whitley Bay, which was a settlement dating from the Iron Age.
Teesside, the region's other metropolitan area, is on the river Tees, which rises in the Pennines and flows into the North Sea. It is a major tourist area along the North Sea Coast and includes the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. In the 19th century it used to be a highly industrialized region, with important iron, steel and shipbuilding sectors; it has now the largest petrochemical complex in Europe, while it receives the oil piped from the North Sea's Ekofisk field at Teesport harbour, east of Middlesbrough, one of the UK's three biggest ports.
Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all have important clubs in the English Premiership Football League.
Other important cities in the North include the cathedral city of Durham and the historic town Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Coxhoe Durham is a village which is part of the City of Durham, where the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning spent her early childhood. She was born in 1806 at Coxhoe Hall near Kelloe, 5 miles south of Durham.
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