The UK Lakes Portal is a new online gateway to discover the lakes of the United Kingdom, linking data from many institutions into one national hub.

With more than 40,000 lakes represented, a third of those with detailed information on their catchments, the scale of this new portal hosted by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is unprecedented for freshwater research in the UK.

The portal includes physical, environmental, and water chemistry data compiled from an extensive set of sources over many years. In addition, integration with the National Biodiversity Network displays biology data, while anyone can observe and record species observations at any lake in the UK, using iRecord to contribute new information.

Beginning life in 2004 as a GIS-based inventory of British standing waters, the portal has been gradually accumulating data to become an extensive and comprehensive resource for lakes in the United Kingdom. This vast dataset is now online and fully accessible to the public.

Professor Rosie Hails, Director of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said,

“The UK Lakes Portal is a product of excellent collaboration between the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University College London and the UK conservation and environment agencies. This is one of many natural capital portals that we hope to develop in the future as an evidence base to support policy and decision making."

Alongside development of the portal, a comprehensive freshwater species list for the UK has been created, including information on non-native species. This will be integrated into the portal as part of a move to create an extensive Natural Capital Hub for UK lakes, aligning the portal with a landscape approach to ecological research.


Screenshot from UK Lakes Portal showing information on Llyn Tegid or Bala Lake

Above: A lake details page showing catchment outlines and integrated biodiversity data.

10 Headline Numbers from the UK Lakes Portal
The largest lake by volume in the UK is Loch Ness, Scotland at 7.30km3. Loch Ness contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined!
The largest lake by surface area in the UK is Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland at 38,000 ha. Lough Erne (Upper) in Northern Ireland is 10,950 ha.
The largest lake by surface area in Scotland is Loch Lomond at 7073 ha
The largest lake by surface area in England is Windermere at 1436 ha
The largest natural lake by surface area in Wales is Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) at 415 ha. There are two larger reservoirs in Wales: Llyn Trawsfynydd (493 ha) and Lake Vyrnwy (453 ha)
But the largest reservoir by surface area in the UK is Rutland Water in England at 1212 ha. The largest by volume (capacity) is Kielder Water in England at 0.2km3
The deepest lake in the UK is Loch Morar, Scotland at 310m depth. This is 80m deeper than Loch Ness, the second deepest lake in the UK and deeper than the height of the Shard, the highest building in London.
By comparison, the largest lake by mean depth in England is Wast Water at 76m
The largest lake by perimeter length in the UK is Loch Awe, Scotland at 41km.
The greatest number of islands on a lake in the UK is more than 60 islands on Loch Maree in Scotland

A number of initiatives have also been undertaken to ensure information in the portal is continually updated, including establishing links with National River Flow Archive data and a new application to gather missing attributes from lakes in the database. Links with other datasets are important as the portal becomes a national gateway to UK lakes data, with other portals and new projects, such as NERC Hydroscape, already establishing direct links to its data.

Laurence Carvalho, Freshwater Ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said “The UK Lakes Portal is a fantastic new resource for both scientists and the local citizen scientist interested in finding out more about their local lake and the biodiversity found within it. It has the potential to help us value the benefits we gain from UK lakes and answer questions such as how well connected is biodiversity across UK Lakes and how fast are invasive species spreading across UK freshwaters?”

Additional information

The UK Lakes Portal

iRecord Lake Species Recording

The original development of the underlying 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).

Contact Philip Taylor for more information on the UK Lakes Portal


Photo top right of Wast Water by Alan Lawlor