National Trust considers plans to ban cars from parts of the Lake District

National Trust considers plans to ban cars from parts of the Lake District amid fears nearly 20m visitors a year are ‘loving the national park to death‘

The National Trust is considering plans to ban cars from parts of the Lake District as the Cumbrian lake is being ‘loved to death‘ by tourists. 

Kate Willshaw, officer for the Friends of the Lake District, claims there are ‘honeypots‘ such as Bowness, Keswick and Windermere in the Lakes, which attract floods of tourists and massive congestion as a result. 

She said: ‘They attract people because they are an easy win. You can get to them without driving on single-track roads, and the views are magnificent.‘

The national park authority (LDNPA) is working with the National Trust, which owns 20 per cent of the Lake District, for ‘traffic management in Seathwaite‘. 

Tourists abandon their cars in this Cumbrian hamlet before climbing England‘s highest peak Scafell Pike. 

Plans suggest Seathwaite residents would be able to use their cars within the proposed zones, according to the .   

The Lake District saw 14.8m visitors in 2012 and this rose to 17.3m within three years, according to figures by the LDNPA. And the Lakes had 19.4m visitors last year. 

Julian Glover, journalist at the Evening Standard, said this proves the days when Alfred Wainwright wrote his Lake District walking guides where he would set off from Kendal by bus have ‘long gone‘.

He also called for a new approach to public transport in his September review of the national parks.  

The National Trust are in discussion with the Highways Agency, residents and the parish council, and will consider ‘other locations‘ of the car-free zones.  

A local farmer told the Times: ‘Congestion is horrendous and getting much worse. There was a fire in one of the houses near us and the fire engine couldn‘t get down, there were so many cars parked.‘

They added how a ‘normal Friday‘ consists of cars parking from the entrance of their house all the way down the road – making them keen for the proposed car-free zones.

Stopping drivers from parking at one of the main entrances to Scafell Pike would ‘be a big blow to ramblers‘, a walker who parks at Seathwaite said.

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Jeremy Barlow, Assistant Director of National Trust Lake District said: ‘The Seathwaite valley is under pressure – it‘s a popular place to park if you plan to take in the beauty of Scafell Pike, Great Gable and the other high fells in the Lakes. 

‘This can cause access problems for those who live there including farmers, and it could restrict an emergency vehicle.‘

He admitted the issue is ‘complex‘ and ‘we don‘t yet have a solution‘ but encouraged visitors to tips before visiting. 

But Ms Willshall claimed this problem is being felt in Cornwall, Devon, the North York Moors and Snowdonia. 

This comes just after Councillor Lywood, from Keswick Town Council in the Lake District, accused the LDNPA of putting tourism ahead of protecting the landscape.

He asked: ‘How can this body give more than a cursory consideration to zip wires over Thirlmere, the proliferation of 4x4s in Little Langdale, a Gondola up to Whinlatter and now a wide-strip of scarring tarmac beneath Blencathra?‘ 

The National Trust will present research about the car ban at a conference in Kendal, Cumbria, on Tuesday. It will offer alternatives like electric bikes, boats and buses.   

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism Gill Haigh, said: ‘The Lake District and wider county is visited and enjoyed by millions each year. 

‘When judged by any national or international standards, the Lake District really does not have a traffic problem.

‘Very occasionally, in certain limited areas of the Lake District, emergency works on the road network, rail disruption and limited parking can combine with a peak travel day and so inevitably there can be added pressure but even on these exceptional days you can always find quiet places to visit.

‘The rest of the time traffic flow is perfectly normal, as those of us who live and work here can attest. 

‘That isn‘t to say that there isn‘t progress to be made on sustainable transport and reducing carbon initiatives and Cumbria Tourism support the Lake District National Park‘s Sustainable Travel Framework ambitions to reduce carbon and support the visitor experience through the development of further sustainable transport opportunities. 

‘Our recent campaign with the rail industry is a great example which resulted in the equivalent of a 1.3 million mile reduction in car journeys within the county.‘


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