The Best Known Lakes in the United Kingdom

The UK is home to a vast variety of lakes, each with its own unique character. So what are the best known lakes in the United Kingdom? Read on to find out.

Travel and Exploration
24 November 2022

In Scotland, they’re lochs, in Wales llyns, but wherever one is in the UK, there are stunning lakes to visit and enjoy.

It’s hard to know the exact number of lakes in the United Kingdom, although the UK lakes Portal lists over 40,000. Of these, 390 are over five hectares in size. That’s the equivalent of eight football pitches.

Throughout the country, these enclosed bodies of water fulfil a myriad of indispensable roles. Lakes play a crucial role in the UK ecosystem. They’re important for nature and wildlife, provide recreation and tourism opportunities, and help to regulate the water cycle.

Lakes also play a vital role in the economy. They provide water for industry, agriculture and domestic use, and are a source of renewable energy. In addition, the fisheries and aquaculture industries are dependent on lakes.

In this article, we look at some of the best known UK and British lakes. So let’s dive right in.

Best Known UK Lakes

A birds eye view of Loch Ness in Scotland (Photo: Edwin Remsberg via Getty Images)

The United Kingdom is home to some of the most beautiful and iconic lakes in the world. Just as each lake is unique in its ecosystem, characteristics and history, there are many reasons why some lakes are better known than others. Some of these include: myths and legends; literary links; and sheer size. Let’s explore each in turn.

Myths and Legends

If there’s one lake amongst the lakes of Britain whose reputation precedes it, it’s Loch Ness. This Scottish lake is renowned for its legend of the Loch Ness Monster. Affectionately known as ‘Nessie’, this long-necked cryptid is said to reside within the lake and attracts visitors from all over the world to see it. Or try to at least.

Literary links

England’s Lake District is an entire region famed for its lakes. In terms of art and culture, the Lake District has long been an inspiration for artists and writers. It was so influential there was an entire movement known as the Lake Poets, which counted Wordsworth and Coleridge as members. Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons novel series was also inspired by the area. The Lake District’s best known resident is Windermere, which also happens to be England’s largest natural lake. The lake has been a popular destination for holidaymakers since the Victorian era, and its popularity has only increased in recent years. It’s now a popular spot for hiking, boating, and swimming.


Of course, one of the elements that makes a lake well known is being the largest one. Although, determining the largest lakes in the UK is not as simple a task as one might imagine. There are many different metrics by which to judge this sort of thing. For example, by volume, the largest lake in the UK is Loch Ness in Scotland. In fact, it contains more freshwater than all the lakes in Wales and England combined. However, if looking at the largest surface area, the largest lake in the UK is Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. Measuring 38,000 hectares, it’s about the size of the Isle of Wight. Meanwhile, at a depth of around 1,000 feet, Scotland’s Loch Morar is the deepest of all UK lakes. It’s also a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching.

The United Kingdom’s Most Famous Lakes

A family of ducks together in their nest, surrounded by water (Photo: Ijby Berg via Getty Images)

And thus, the lakes in the UK are much more than bodies of water. They are integral to the well-being of its people, ecology and even the economy. From the great lochs to the smaller lakes dotted all around, each of the UK lakes plays an important role in both the natural ecosystem and our time for culture, leisure and relaxation.


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