About the UK Lakes Portal


A GIS-based inventory of lakes for Great Britain was originally developed by University College London and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in 2004 (Hughes et.al. 2004). The inventory includes more than 40000 water bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man and catchment data for all water bodies with a surface area >1 ha. This version has been updated with additional water bodies from Northern Ireland and supplemented with more recent data during the development and implementation of the Water Framework Directive over the period 2003-2013.


Email Phil Taylor for any portal-related questions.

Read news stories about the portal's development:

Frequently asked questions

How to use the lakes portal?

The home page allows searching for lakes by name or id, or selecting one of the featured lakes to explore.

Each lake has a details page (e.g. Windermere) with basic information on the left, an indicative location map, a map detail, and several tabs with further details.

The map detail is interactive - you can roam around, zoom in or out, and show or hide different layers. Clicking on another lake in the map detail will refocus on the clicked lake.

If lake catchment details are available, it can be turned on as a layer in the map detail and the Land cover tab will show proportions of individual land cover classes in the catchment.

Data about species in and around the lake can be fetched on the Biology tab. Once the table of species records is produced, it can be filtered to show only selected groups of plants or animals. The table can be searched for any string using the Search text box above the table. A layer showing the geographic distribution of a selected species can be added to the map detail by clicking the button next to the species name. The start and end year for the biological data can be specified, the default range is since 2000 onwards. For details about the biological data, read "Where do the biological data come from" below.

Lakes can be explored using the map search page. When the "Zoom to my location" button in the top left corner is clicked, you will be asked to allow the page to determine your location. If you agree, the map will zoom and center at your location. The UK Lakes portal does not record your location, the whole operation is performed in your web browser. There are several basemaps (backdrop maps) to choose from using the Basemaps button. The GeoSearch box in the top left corner can be used to search for post codes in Great Britain and for places in the Ordnance Survey 1:50K Gazetteer. The table underneath the map shows the first 1000 largest lakes in the current map extent. The Search text box allows you to perform a full text search on the records currently loaded in the table. Hovering over a water body ID in the table will highlight the corresponding lake in the map. Clicking the water body ID will open the details page. Clicking on a lake in the map will open a popup from which the details page can be opened too.

I cannot find a lake I know, what can I do?

It is possible that some lakes and ponds were not included in the database. If you know about a lake that is larger than 1 ha (0.01 km2) and is not in the database, or if you think you found an error, please let us know.

Where do the lake polygons come from?

In Great Britain, lake polygons were obtained from Ordnance Survey PANORAMA dataset while the polygons in Northern Ireland were provided by the Department of Environment Northern Ireland.

Where do the biological data come from?

Data on the Biology tab in each lake details page is provided by the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and its use is subject to the NBN Atlas Terms and Conditions.

Lakes larger than 10 hectares, i.e. 10000 m2, are available in the NBN Atlas and the lake polygon is used to query the NBN Atlas. For lakes that are not in the NBN Atlas, the lake bounding box is used in the query.

However, the NBN Atlas provides data at several spatial resolutions - squares with a side of 10, 2, 1, and 0.1 km. When you request NBN data from the lakes details page, the results will contain records from all squares intersected by the lake polygon (or by the lake bounding box if the lake is not available in the NBN Atlas).

The lake details page allows you to visualize spatial coverage and resolution of a selected species in the map by clicking the 'Show on map' button next to the scientific name of that species.

For improved access to biological records, please visit the NBN Atlas directly.

How can I record new species observations?

You can contribute information about species you spot in and around each lake. This information is collected through iRecord — a separate application developed by the Biological Record Centre. The Biology tab in each lake details page includes a button that opens the iRecord page with the particular lake selected. However, small lakes cannot be selected in iRecord and you will need to find the exact location manually using other iRecord tools such as the map or your current GPS location. The iRecord website has its own user guide where you can find more details.

The data you submit through iRecord will be curated and loaded into the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) database, which is eventually displayed in the UK Lakes portal again.


The development of the database was jointly funded by the Environment Agency, Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales (now Natural Resources Wales), and the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER). Recent updates funded by UK-SCAPE.



Lake polygon geometry in Northern Ireland is based upon Crown Copyright and is reproduced with the permission of Land & Property Services under delegated authority from the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown copyright and database rights, EMOU206.2. Northern Ireland Environment Agency Copyright 2015.

Lake polygon geometry in Great Britain is based on Ordnance Survey data and contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Data about species occurrence presented on this page is provided by the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and its use is subject to the NBN Atlas Terms and Conditions.


Hughes M., Bennion H., Kernan M., Hornby D.D., Hilton J., Phillips G. & Thomas R. (2004) The development of a GIS-based inventory of standing waters in Great Britain together with a risk-based prioritisation protocol. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution: Focus, 4 (2-3), 73-84. 10.1023/B:WAFO.0000028346.27904.83