Safeguarding Britain's national parks is one of the most important jobs in the country. Accessible, well cared for parks do not just benefit those who love to go walking
- they have wider economic benefits drawn from increased tourism and consumer spending.
So it is welcoming that the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has been praised for its high standards and exceptionally "approachable" attitude.
The praise came after inspectors spent a week visiting the Lake District, meeting with staff at the authority, volunteers and partner organisations.
Following the investigation, the Lake District was awarded three out of four or better in every category in which it was assessed.
LDNPA chairman Bill Jefferson said: "This is fantastic news for us. Members are very pleased with this outcome and we are proud of the achievements of our staff and volunteers."
However, he added that even more could be done to improve the national park, which is one of the UK's most popular tourist destinations.
"But we know we can progress even more. The report sets out some areas where we can learn and improve to make this a better place to work and provide even better services," Mr Jefferson added.
Areas singled out for special praise were numerous, but included Brockhole's national park visitor centre - which was described as "dynamically transformed" - and the park's climate change strategies, which made the Lakes a "recognised ... leader" with "award winning environmental performance".
The National Parks Authorities Performance Assessment 2012 went on to say: "There is a strong inspirational shared vision. It is a credit to the authority’s dedication and resolve to make improvements."
It added that the park had "markedly improved" since its last formal assessment.
Developments in the park were also welcomed by the inspectors. Honister Slate Mine's via ferrata is one such development that has been given planning approval recently.