Pole vaulting was used in eastern England and in low lying areas in the Netherlands as a way of crossing over marshy land, dykes and rivers.
The first pole vaulting competitions were to see who could travel furthest. The first competition to see who could go highest took place in Cumbria (in the Lake District) in 1843 and it was introduced in this format into the first modern Olympics in 1896. The winner of the event today can clear almost double the height of the first winner more than a century earlier due to better technique and stronger poles.
Distance competitions still take place in lowland areas.