Buttermere, England, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - England - England's Northwest -

Also known as:  The Lake District

Located among the western lakes in England’s Lake District, ruggedly beautiful Buttermere is one of a chain of three spectacular lakes. Running from northwest to southeast, Loweswater (148 acres), Crummock Water (618 acres) and Buttermere (222 acres) provide some of Lakeland’s most stunning scenes of green meadows, sparkling lakes and towering fells (mountains). Owned by The National Trust, Buttermere property is protected along with “Wild Ennerdale” south of the fells to preserve and reestablish a “wilder landscape.”

An elevated view of Buttermere now displays two glacial lakes where there once was one. A beautiful green alluvial plain separates Buttermere’s three-mile shoreline from adjoining Crummock Water. Mountain streams that carried sediment to the green fields still provide inflow to the lakes. At the north end of Buttermere, outflow is carried to Crummock Water by a stream named Buttermere Dubs. From the north end of Crummock Water, River Cocker flows on to Loweswater and the River Derwent. Crummock Water’s source also comes from 170-foot Scale Force (waterfall), the tallest waterfall in Cumbria County’s Lake District National Park and a short hike from Buttermere.

There are two theories on the naming of Buttermere. The deep green pastures and grazing land make it reasonable to assume that the name may be a translation of the Old English “butere mere” or “lake by the diary pastures.” However, local tradition holds that the name came from an 11th century Norse chieftan named “Buthar” creating the name “Buthar’s mere.”

The quiet valley that stretches from Buttermere to Loweswater includes the three villages of Buttersmere, Loweswater and Lorton. Each village offers its own slice of British history from 12th and 17th century churches to historic local pubs. As visitors cross the countryside they will hear many tales. At the southeast end of Crummock Water, Rannerdale Knots, a low-lying hill, is said to be the site of England’s last stand against the 11th century Norman Conquest. Recounted in a book titled “The Maid of Buttermere,” a resident named Mary Robinson and daughter of a local innkeeper married a ‘gentleman’ posing as the brother of an English Earl. When the imposter’s true identity was discovered, the gentleman was hanged and Mary happily returned to marry a local farmer. Cockermouth, the community lying north of Loweswater, is remembered as the home of Bounty mutineer, Fletcher Christian, and the birthplace of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Alfred Wainwright, an avid hiker and author of multiple guidebooks to the Lake District, considered Buttermere and surrounding fells to be among the most scenic in the Lake District. Upon his passing his ashes were spread on Haystacks summit.

The combination of lakes and mountains makes hiking the number one attraction. A four-mile path circles Buttermere’s shoreline with refreshments, views of working farms, and historic inns found along the way. Hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and birders will enjoy the wide variety of wildlife native to Buttermere valley. A woodpecker, nut hatcher, cuckoo, yellow hammer, crested greeb and occasional golden eagle may be seen flying past Buttermere. While on the trail keep an eye out for glimpses of red squirrel, deer, fox, badger and resident otter family.

Ideal for the serious hiker, the small chain of lakes is surrounded by rugged and imposing ranges of fells crossed with challenging walking paths. Fleetwith Pike (2,126 feet) rises over Buttermere. Haystacks, one of the more moderate climbs at 1,959 feet, rises over Buttermere with spectacular views and small tarns and marshlands at its summit. High Stile (2,648 feet) sits to the southwest, Robinson (2,417 feet) to the northeast, and located to the northwest, Grasmoor (2,795 feet) is noted for its dramatically steep western slope.

The National Trust controls both boating and fishing on Buttermere. No motor craft are permitted on the lake but a small number of rowboats are available for hire. While the 75-foot depths are not known for exceptional fishing, anglers will still enjoy remarkable scenery while quietly fishing the waters for Arctic char, brown trout, pike, perch, eel and salmon.

When visitors are ready for a change from lake scenery to forest scenery, Whinlatter, England’s “only true mountain forest,” lies less than 10 miles northeast of Buttermere. Covering almost 3,000 acres, mountain elevations reach 328 to 2,591 feet, providing views that span the northwestern Lake District into Scotland. Activities within the forest were built with family holidays in mind. Walking trails for all ages and all levels of mobility lead into the forest. Mountain bike trails are available, and for the more adventurous the “Go Ape!” area provides a close-up forest adventure through the use of zip lines, rope bridges and swings. Picnic sites, educational programs, and visitor center are available for those who choose not to “go ape.”

The stunning beauty and peaceful solitude of Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater make the perfect back-to-nature escape. Accommodations located in surrounding country villages take you to a place where time slows and treasured family moments can be savored. While Buttermere’s real estate properties are rare, holiday rentals, self catering cottages, country inns and bed & breakfasts (B&Bs) are waiting for your reservation. Holiday accommodations come complete with spectacular mountain scenery, sparkling lakes and hiking trails only minutes away. The only thing missing is you.

Things to do at Buttermere

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Buttermere

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Buttermere Photo Gallery

Buttermere Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 222 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 328 feet

Average Depth: 54 feet

Maximum Depth: 75 feet

Water Volume: 12,323 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 140 days

Trophic State: Oligotrophic/mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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