The head of the Lake District National Park Authority in Cumbria says the rugged landscape…
Is a national treasure? Should be protected for the future?
…excludes too many people and must change to attract a more diverse mix of visitors.
Why? I mean…just what’s the benefit of being able to fill a scrapbook with ticks for all the various identity groups in the world?
How does that help the park? Certainly, your current efforts to ‘modernise’ are being – thankfully!- met with stiff resistance:
The authority is facing a High Court judicial review in the New Year over its refusal to ban 4×4 vehicles from some fell trails, while Keswick Town Council has passed a vote of no confidence in it over the creation of a tarmac path through woodland.
Just read that again – ‘a tarmac path through woodland’ – and see if it makes sense to you. Because it doesn’t to me!
As with everything, though, it comes down to money. Taxpayer money, to be precise:
Richard Leafe, the park authority’s long-standing chief executive, told Sky News that to ensure continued public funding the national park must adapt in small ways.
“We need to be able to sell the national park to everybody in Britain, all society, and it’s important that it doesn’t just become exclusive to one single use group,” he said.
I haven’t visited for years, but last time I was there, the place was full of young, old, foreign, native…what’s changed?
“The moment we get into that position I think national parks start to lose their relevance and therefore the very reason for calling it a national park and spending public money.”
Are you in that position, or getting near it now, then?
Research shows visitors to the Lake District, where the rugged fells inspired the romantic poets and author Beatrix Potter, are too heavily weighted towards older, able-bodied white people.
Who is responsible for this ‘research’? Because it really doesn’t bear out reality, I suspect…
Paul Titley, a businessman who retired to the Lake District who is now Keswick’s deputy mayor, believes visitors have no right to paths that aren’t muddy and should accept the environment as it is or go elsewhere.
“We have a phenomenal selection of outdoor clothing shops here for a reason – come and buy them, come and put them on and get yourself out in the hills,” he said.
“If you get wet it won’t hurt you, if you get cold put something else on.”
We need more Titleys and fewer Leafes. That will help our National Parks.