If there is one natural resource associated with the Lake District, it is, of course, water. There are 17 lakes, only one of which has that word in its name, namely Bassenthwaite Lake. The others use either the word mere (old English for lake), such as Windermere, Grasmere and Buttermere or water, such as Elterwater, Crummock Water and Coniston Water. The two man-made reservoirs, Thirlmere and Haweswater, supply water to large parts of the north west of England.
Thirlmere is connected up with Manchester by an aqueduct which was taken into use in 1894, after a dam was built at the north end of the valley creating the existing reservoir over two small tarns. Thirlmere is a glacial valley, and the fells either side of it are particularly efficient at catching rain water. Thirlmere is one of the purest water sources in the country, and today 220 million litres of water per day flow through the water treatment works three miles south of the reservoir.
The water in the Lake District is very soft, and makes for wonderful drinking water. If you want to take some of that experience with you, there are three companies which bottle and sell spring water. Lakeland Spring Water is collected at Standing Stones, high above Ennerdale Water, and is bottled at Hensingham near Whitehaven. The water is low in sodium and nitrates and free from any additives or processing. Lakeland Spring Water comes from one of the highest sources in the UK, and there is no cultivation going on above it, adding to its purity.
Lakeland Willow Water comes from a spring used by the monks of Cartmel Priory. Today, water from the same source is pumped and bottled nearby. The water has traces of salicin, a natural painkiller which comes from the white willow bark. It's possible to see the bottling plant if you call ahead and make an arrangement.
The third water supplier is the Eden Valley Mineral Water Company, which takes around 250 million litres of spring water per year from five boreholes near Armathwaite, bottles it and sells it under the Aqua Pura name.