THE Lake District National Park Authority is right to focus on the area's cultural landscape in its bid to gain World Heritage status.

While the natural landscape is undoubtedly a draw for millions of visitors every year, this has not proved sufficiently impressive on its own, if previous unsuccessful attempts to earn the international accolade are anything to go by.

By focusing on cultural landscape, the park authority is able to put forward a particularly strong case this time as the quest reaches its most significant milestone in more than a year.

Historically, culture has figured as a major attraction for visitors to the Lakes - those who wish to follow in the footsteps of the great Lakeland poets and writers, most notably William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, or its renowned artists like Grasmere's Alfred Heaton-Cooper.

The Lakes are knowns the world over because of such links - and plans to film another Swallows and Amazons adventure in the area can only add to the cultural strength of the park authority's bid.

Although Wordsworth, Potter and Ransome will continue to be a major draw for visitors to the Lake District, having global cinematic links is just as important.

One film from the 1980s proves this point perhaps more than any other. After Withnail and I was shot in and around Shap and Bampton, the area became a point of pilgrimage for cult followers of the movie.

It is difficult probably to estimate in monetary terms the value of the film to the Lake District, but there can be no question it has helped to 'sell' the landscape in a cultural context.

Although miles away from the flashing lights of Tinseltown, the area has been prized by Hollywood directors for years and films such as Miss Potter, King Arthur and Snow White and the Huntsman have been set here.

But it's not just about popular culture. The Lakes have many historic and cultural gems to offer, such as the Arts and Craft House at Blackwell, Kurt Schwitters' Merz Barn at Chapel Stile and the Armitt Museum, Ambleside, all add to the rich cultural mix.