Photo above: Gale Road car park above Keswick. Evidently a popular starting point for a walk up Skiddaw; the path up Jenkin Hill can be seen on the right. There are 28 cars in this image, with another half dozen at least around the corner. © Copyright Jim Barton (some rights reserved)
Colin Serjent reports that plans to restrict cars in the Lake District were underway long before lock-down restrictions were imposed.
Some of the Lake District’s remotest villages could become a car-free zone under plans to cut down on traffic.
The Lake District National Park Authority will explore car-free zones as part of its traffic management plans in tandem with the National Trust.
Thomas Bunditt, National Trust General Manager, said “Car-free zones are an option we are considering. We are having discussions with residents, The Highways Agency and Parish Councils”.
Alistair Kirkbride, a transport consultant, commented “The road infrastructure in the Lake District was built for horses and carts, not cars”.
One major worry though, with regard to banning cars, was that visitors could start avoiding the area if this is implemented.
This means a fine balancing act is required to attract people to enjoy the Lake District while finding a way to keep the roads clear.
The area attracts nearly 20 million tourists each year – spending £1.4 billion and supporting 18,500 jobs.
As the Lock-down measures eased, but with various other destinations still unavailable, visitor numbers swelled, with people choosing to visit the area who had never done so previously. A survey carried out by the National Park Authority of those visiting the area, found that of those polled, 68% had not been to the Lake District before.
A spokesperson for the Authority stated that Lake District visitors have caused significant problems, for example, blocking roads with parked cars and leaving beauty spots strewn with rubbish.
One local resident from the Lakes commented that “Cars are the bane of the Lake District. Decent local public transport can make or break this though. The vast numbers of people who visit the Lakes need to be able to move from place to place, but not necessarily by car. There are many beautiful areas that restrict transport”.