MY connection to the Lake District goes back a long way. All the way back, in fact, to Fletcher Christian—to whom I am related and who is believed to have fled with his family from there to the Isle of Man, where he met Captain Bligh. (‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ is world-famous and has been made into a movie more than once.)
I’ve always had family there—and still do. We visit annually, not only to see my relatives but also to enjoy the natural beauty of the Lake District. It is truly a wonderful place; the lakes and hills are profoundly stunning, and the incredible scenery, amazing walks and wonderful local hospitality never fail to lure you back.
So I hope you can appreciate why I have chosen, in this post, to highlight the potential devastation to this area, which has, in fact, already started.
It was announced during the Christmas holidays by the Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, that this national park should become more appealing to diverse groups, and more accessible to disabled visitors.
Firstly, I would have to say that, on the many occasions driving there I have never seen a single sign saying that “anyone is NOT welcome.” In my experience that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even when the good old British weather isn’t playing ball, you will always find the popular areas packed with visitors.
As for making it more appealing; why? If you love the outdoors, walking, climbing, cycling, being on the water, and all the other activities you will find there to keep you entertained, why change anything about it?
“You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” An old saying, but relevant in this case, because we’re talking about major changes to one of our most beautiful national parks, without any guarantees that it will bring in people who don’t want to go there.
At this point I would say that, in my experience, where it’s been possible to put in provision for disabled visitors, it’s largely been done. There are, of course, areas where it just wouldn’t be practical unless it were possible to move a mountain!
There is absolutely nothing stopping any person, whatever their race, creed, colour, sexuality or any other distinguishing feature, from visiting The Lake District.
But, could there simply be one thing behind it? ——- Money! And the argument being put forward is just a ruse.
Very close to where we normally stay used to be completely forested, and amongst the trees is the ‘Winlatter Centre’—a popular area for walkers, cyclists or those who just want to drop in for coffee.
You can walk up there from the village at the bottom; it’s a bit of a climb, but easily doable. For the elderly and disabled you can drive and there’s plenty of car parking available.
Imagine my disbelief then, when I heard they now want to put in a Gondola! Yes, that’s right; a cable car from the village up to the centre, just to take people up the hill – because they are too lazy to walk?
The locals have been fighting this appalling imposition to the land for sometime now. And even though, as far as we know, it hasn’t actually been approved yet, this is what has happened already:
This decimated area was covered in fir trees like those you can see in the background.
In the past two years this vast expanse of forest has been obliterated and there can be no other reason for bringing commercialisation to this area of natural beauty than money.
In addition, the destruction of this forested land is completely in conflict with the serious issue of climate change. We need to be planting more trees, and by doing so setting an example to those countries that are destroying their eco-systems in the pursuit of wealth.
Instead we expose ourselves to be as selfish as they are, in showing only contempt for these beautiful and vital areas.
There are many other obstacles to overcome should this abomination be allowed to proceed, not least getting people to the Gondola. They would either have to take further areas of land to tarmac for car parking, or run a Park & Ride service from Keswick and Cockermouth to bring the people in.
That would create major issues to already very busy roads; the village is small and the roads are very narrow, and there really is no room to widen them.
So I say to the Chief Executive and the developers, leave this very special part of our heritage well alone.
If you think by developing any part of it you will entice more diverse groups of visitors, think again. There are no guarantees they will come and you may drive away those who already do.
THE LAKE DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK IS THERE FOR EVERYONE TO ENJOY!
Give it a try.
’Til next time,