People who live in the Lakes or come here regularly understand the differences between the different areas. Each area has it’s own distinct feeling and look. Windermere is the busiest and most touristy area, Wasdale and into the High Mountains have an almost Alpine feel, and Ullswater is known as “England's Most Beautiful Lake”. This is because it is a lot less developed than most of the Lakes, making the area more natural and quiet. People like that. That’s why most people who come to Ullswater come to Ullswater. For the peace and serenity on offer by walking on the beautiful fells above our nice quiet Lake. We have had a speed limit on Ullswater since the mid 80’s, we like it quiet round here.
While most people appreciate that, the Lake District National Park Authority who only exist to keep the Lake District beautiful and functional in a sustainable way seem to have missed that point. They want to put 4 parralel mile long Zip Wires above Glenridding on the way up to Helvellyn. If this was to go ahead then all of our visitors favourite walks from Glenridding would be ruined with the sounds of people screeming and the clatering of the Zip Wire.
Helvellyn, which is one of the most popular Mountains in England, would be approached under the Zip Wire, with sections fenced off for “our” saftey, and the sounds of a Theme Park echoing round. The walk up to Lantys Tarn, one of the nicest and most peaceful short walks around here would be spoilt as you would look directly over the Zip Wire walking up to the Tarn. Birkhouse Moor, Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd would all be ruined by the noise, which would travel up to Greenside and Raise with the wind behind it, and even back down into Glenridding village and the Lake.
You might remember a right carry on recently at Honister Slate Mines where they had applied for planning permision to put a Zip Wire in but the Lake District National Park Authourity refused it on grounds that it would ruin the peace and quiet of the area. Chris Bonington resigned from Friends of the Lake District because he was so appalled at this decision. I thought they must have forgotten that Honister is a working slate mine with a Via Ferrata route up into the mountains and the perfect place to put a Zip Wire for people to enjoy, but no, theres more to it than that.
Well, it seems politics and money have crept into this aguement. With the recent Government spending cuts the Lake District National Park Authority now have to raise a lot of their budget themselves, so instead of their priority being looking after the Lake District, it has become raising enough money for them to continue existing. And this is where the Glenridding Zip Wire arguement gets it’s momentum from. The Lake District National Park Authority do not own any of the land at Honister so would not make any money from a Zip Wire there. They do however own the land above Glenridding where the proposed Zip Wire would go and stand to make a lot of money out of this.
I have never really given the Lake District National Park Authority that much thought. They have consistently been inconsistant with their planning applications and have never represented the people and businesses of the Lake District but you expect that from Government organisations. But now they are becoming the threat that they are supposed to protect the Lake District from is there any future for them? The Lake District National Park Authority costs millions of Taxpayers pounds a year to operate. The work they do is largely duplicated by Eden, Allerdale and South Lakeland District Councils as well as the National Trust, Cumbria Tourism and the Parish Councils. If they were to close down and pass full responsibilities to the local District Councils, hand over their land to the National Trust, and let Cumbria Tourism handle the visitors centre it would save the Taxpayer millions of pounds every year.
If they are to continue they will be looking for more ways of raising money. Every day we hear people complaining about the price of the car parks in the Lake District (The Lake District National Park Authority raise over £300,000 a year just from the main Glenridding car park, think what could be done locally with that money). Well those charges will go up even more. The Tourist Information Centres are not popular with local businesses already as they are taking trade selling more maps trinkets and souvenirs. This is only going to get worse as they need to increase their side of their funding, causing more competition between the Tourist Info Centres and local businesses. If these were to close there would be more money for local businesses and better advice for tourists as people would have to ask locals in village shops for information rather than the people who work in Tourist Information Centres, who are good, but not as informative as the locals.
In this fast changing world some organisations and businesses that used to rule the roost are just no longer relevant any more. We need to think long and hard about the future of the Lake District National Park Authority and if the money it costs to run would be better spent more directly into Lakeland communities.
But thats an arguement for another day. For now the most important thing we need to do is make the Lake District National Park Authority see sense and stop backing the proposed Zip Wire. This needs a bit of People Power to let them know how deeply unpopular it is. There is a petition you can sign at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-zip-wires-in-glenridding-ulswater to let Richard Leafe, the head of the Lake District National Park Authority, know that we are against it. There is also an open meeting in Glenridding Village Hall at 7PM on Wednesday 3rd December where Richard Leafe and Mike Turner, who owns the company wanting to build the Zip Wire, will be there. Please come along to this and bring everyone you know who thinks its a crazy idea. We want as many people as possible there to let Richard Leafe know that this is the wrong place to put a Zip Wire. We also want as much media as possible so we can try and get Richard Leafe and Mike Turner to justify their propsals to camera. With such strong local resistance to the Zip Wire I don’t see how they can put a spin on it that would be acceptable by the public.
Please sign the petition and come along to the meeting. This is the biggest threat to the peace and quiet of Glenridding that I have ever known. It is vital that this does not go ahead or the whole character of the top of Ullswater will change for the worse.
Thank You. Andrew Laverick.