THE Lake District’s largest privately-owned lake has been put up for sale today – on an auction website.

Esthwaite Water and its established leisure businesses will make history as the first lake in the world to be sold on eBay.

Owner Nigel Woodhouse is approaching retirement age and is on the lookout for someone to take over the reins of the 280-acre lake, which straddles the villages of Near Sawrey and Hawkshead.

“I chose eBay because I wanted to broadcast it to the world,” said Mr Woodhouse, who has been in charge for 32 years.

“The literary and natural importance of the lake is likely to attract an international audience so what better way to get the message out?

“I will be sad to see it go; it has been my life.”

Esthwaite Water was described by Beatrix Potter as her ‘favourite lake’ and the area now pays homage to the famous literary figure in the form of a licensed nature trail.

There is also a café in the artist’s theme and 26 of her images, painted around the shores of the water, hang in a studio.

Mr Woodhouse said; “The nature walk provides for an informative amble from our car park up to the National Trust property of Hill Top, just 500 metres away.”

The lake is also the largest stocked fishing lake in the North West and acts as a trout fishery.

It attracts thousands of anglers to its shores each year – including one who caught England’s largest pike at 46.5lb.

Mr Woodhouse added that the area was renowned for its nature. “The site is of European importance and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It also has Ramsar status, which commends wetlands of international importance,” he said.

“We have had ospreys on site for 13 years and now offer a self-driven electric boat ride safari around the lake, taking in six different locations.”

Included in the 15-year lease from the Graythwaite Estate are the entire water and land on the south west shore, a Victorian boathouse, fisherman’s lodge, shop and café. There is also a slipway and jetty for boats as well as disabled facilities. For information visit