The sun rises over one of the areas now incorporated into the Lake District. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

The sun rises over one of the areas now incorporated into the Lake District. Photo: Friends of the Lake District

Scores of people saw dawn break over a national park landscape to mark the first day of the extended Lake District.

Friends of the Lake District held an early morning vigil to see the sun rise on Scout Scar, near Kendal on Monday.

Both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales saw their areas extended from 1 August, the Dales by almost a quarter.

The campaigning charity said scores of people joined them at 5am to see in the new day, with eggs and bacon fortifying the early risers, among them many supporters and campaigners who have worked to see the extensions introduced.

Policy officer at Friends of the Lake District, Alison Lax, said: “These areas have always been special and valued in Cumbria, but now it adds a level of national recognition.

“These areas really should have been part of the parks in the first place. The landscape’s qualities are on a par with everything that was included in the parks previously.”

The extension to the parks, announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in October now see the Dales stretch to the North and West and the Lakes to the East and South, with boundaries now within touching distance either side of the M6 motorway, creating a band of protected land across the North-West of England.

Britain’s oldest national conservation body welcomed the extension of the two national parks.

The Open Spaces Society said an area larger than the Isle of Wight, is now embraced by the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks following a long campaign by amenity groups.

The Lake District is extended by 27 square miles, to incorporate areas such as Birkbeck Fells, Whinfell and part of the Lyth valley, while the Yorkshire Dales is expanded by 161 square miles to include parts of the Orton Fells, northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang.

Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “We are delighted that this long-unfinished business has at last been completed.

“The park borders were illogical, reflecting former local-authority boundaries which paid no attention to landscape and natural beauty.

“The society played an important role in the original establishment of national parks in England and Wales in 1949, and we have worked alongside the Campaign for National Parks, Friends of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales Society and others to secure the inclusion of these left-out landscapes.

“The new national park areas are rich in common land and other open country where people have the right to roam free. They have a wild beauty and grandeur which deserve to be protected and recognised.

“It is entirely fitting that the new designations should take effect in the 80th anniversary year of the Campaign for National Parks, at the end of National Parks Week, and on Yorkshire Day.”

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