Low temperatures because of the height of the land mean that the growing season is too short to grow crops and a lack of sunshine means crops will not ripen. The slopes are too steep for modern farming machinery to be used and the high rainfall leaches nutrients from the soil, leaving it thin, acidic and infertile.
Flatter areas in valleys are often marshy making it impossible to grow crops there. Sheep are hardy and can survive in these cold, harsh environments - on the upper slopes of U-shaped valleys, hill sheep farming is the most common type of farming. On the valley floors, eg in Great Langdale, cattle can graze where the land is flatter and the grass is better quality because of more fertile soils.
Commercial forestry can take place on the lower, gentler slopes of U-shaped valleys, eg on Harter Fell, where conditions are less harsh and soils are better quality.
Tourists visit the Lake District for its natural picturesque scenery and variety of year-round activities. The Lake District is also close to many urban areas, eg Carlisle, and has excellent road links via a number of motorways such as the M6. Ribbon lakes such as Lake Windermere provide excellent opportunities for watersports and activities including waterskiing, fishing and boat trips.
Arêtes like Striding Edge provide great opportunities for hill walking, while pyramidal peaks are good for rock climbing. Corries also provide excellent opportunities for winter sports such as skiing.
Historical and cultural attractions such as the Beatrix Potter exhibition and Dove Cottage, home to William Wordsworth, also draw people to the region.
The high rainfall ensures that lakes in this region, such as Lake Thirlmere, can be used to supply fresh drinking water to nearby towns and cities like Manchester. The hard impermeable rocks provide excellent geological conditions for water storage in reservoirs.
Hydroelectric power (HEP) hanging valleys are dammed to generate electricity using the force of the water from rivers.