The Lake District National Park
The Lake District National Park is England’s largest park and includes Scafell Pike - its highest mountain, Wastwater - its deepest lake and thriving communities like Keswick and Bowness-on-Windermere. There are42,400 permanent residentsand a huge amount of activities for visitors on offer, including walking, climbing, cycling, boat cruises and various museums. Current surveys show that at least 15.8 million visitors come to the Lake District each year spending a total of £925 million! Most come to enjoy the scenery, peace and quiet and walking but many others visit specific attractions or take part in an outdoor activity. There is also the Beatrix Potter Museum.
They stay in a mixture of self-catering and serviced accommodation. The National Park Authority's current challenge is finding ways of encouraging sustainable tourism without further damaging the very landscape which visitors come to enjoy. Indeed public access to the uplands or fells is unrestricted, and this can pose problems.
Lake Windemere attracts over 1 million visitors on its own each year! This makes sustainability difficult to achieve with such large visitor numbers.
Problems in the Lake District and attempts at management
Limited supply of property
The limits placed upon development in the Lake District means that new houses are seldom built. There has also been a rise in the number of people from outside of the Lake District buying up property for a second home they can use to holiday in. These 2 factors have pushed up house prices in the Lake District and made it very difficult for local people (especially those on low wages) to own their own property in the Lake District. The ownership of second homes (15% of homes in the Lake district are second homes of holiday lets) has knock on or secondary problems because holiday homes are unoccupied for most of the year – this can increase crime and means people are not in the towns and villages using local services. This has a bad effect on the community and means that local services such as schools and shops can be under pressure for closure. Housing is private, so there is very little local councils can do apart from build more properties to rent to locals.
89% of visitors come to the Lake District by car, often just for the day. In a region where roads are often narrow and winding, and towns were constructed before the invention of the motor car this can pose massive problems. Congestion, traffic jams and parking are major issues, and people can park on grass verges in desperation, narrowing the road and making congestion even worse. These problems can be overcome in 2 ways – improving the road network and improving public transport.
There is a wide array of environmental problems associated with tourism in the Lake District. Aside from common problems with litter, there exists footpath erosion, lakeside erosion and air pollution. The increased number of cars damages the air from car exhausts, and also people park on grass verges, damaging the ground parked upon. Footpath erosion occurs because of the sheer numbers of people using popular routes. According to the Park Authority, 4 million people walk an average of 6km each year. The pressure of these people’s feet damages plants and soil, making soil erosion possible. These issues are worst in Honey pot or popular areas, which also suffer from the stresses of overcrowding, parking problems and second homes.
MANAGEMENT of the PROBLEMS
As shown above Tourism in the Lake District faces a range of threats and challenges. These include competing destinations via low cost airlines; accessibility issues in terms of increasing congestion on the M6 and the impact of tolling; the need to significantly raise the quality standard of the tourism offer including the honeypot towns; and a lack of nationally significant cultural attractions.
Tourism is managed in many ways within the Lake District National Park;
Environmental damage and honeypots
The Northwest Regional development agency stated that an “active zoning” approach would help; this would focus tourists in honeypot areas such as Windemere and Keswick whilst protecting other areas from high tourist numbers. It also suggested a Market Towns Initiative, to include a number of the key towns within and around the Lake District National Park - Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick, Ulverston, Cockermouth, Millom and Egremont. Proposed schemes include improving the public realm (space) in both Windermere and Ambleside, and developing speciality tourism in Keswick.
The Upland Path Landscape Restoration Project (UPLRP) was a 10 year project (2002 to 2011) which set out to repair the majority of landscape scars caused by the erosion of fells paths in the Lake District. They used Stone Pitching which involves digging stone into the ground to form good solid footfalls. This ancient technique is used extensively in the central fells using stone which is naturally occurring. In February 2004 £914,841 had been spent on this project.
Case study – Whiteless Pike, Buttermere
The two photos are from the same location near Buttermere. The path had become so deep and loose that a second path had developed alongside. Soil was being eroded into nearby streams. Management was only needed for 20m of path along a steep gradient. The solution was to use local stone to pitch the path. (Source)
Transport initiatives have focussed on public transport, sustainability and getting people out of their cars. The Lake District's roads were not designed for car use which is one reason why that long, long queue is still with us. Statistics tell us the other. Ninety two percent of visitors drive to the Lake District. That's 92 percent of an estimated 16 million people a year.
The B4 network for example includes a Cross Lakes Shuttle which links the lakes of Windermere and Coniston Water and services the honey pot sites of Hawkshead, Grizedale and Tarn Hows. The Shuttle has an integrated timetable and through-ticketing and there are cycle racks on the boats and minibuses that provide the service.
Another sustainable travel option is the ‘Give the Driver a Break’ scheme which is local authority-led and designed to get people out of their cars.
In 2012 Government funding of £7 million was secured for a three-year scheme called 'Drive Less, See More'. It has an ambitious goal: a unified 'boats, bikes, boots and buses' network throughout the national park. Popular walking routes are being connected to public transport services. Cycleways and footpaths are also being brought together. This initiative wants to cut 11,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and ease congestion in visitor honeypots of Bowness, Windermere, Ambleside, Coniston and Grasmere. A bike-friendly bus has also been launched.
Rural areas that are visited by tourists need to be carefully managed. Balance needs to be maintained between the different interest groups such as local businesses, farmers and conservation groups.
Tourism in an MEDC: national parks
The UK's national parks include some of the country's most beautiful natural landscapes, including coasts, mountains and forests. In 1949, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed in order to protect the UK's areas of natural beauty and ensure that everyone could enjoy them today and in the future.
There are currently 12 national parks across England and Wales, including Dartmoor, the New Forest, the Lake District, the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and Snowdonia.
Case study: the Lake District National Park
Grasmere in the Lake District
The Lake District National Park was created in 1951. Covering 880 square miles, it is the UK's largest national park and receives 12 million visitors a year. People come to the Lake District for many reasons, including hill walking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing and boating. They also come to visit historical buildings, or just to enjoy the beautiful lakes and mountains.
Balancing different interests
The park is managed by the National Parks Authority (NPA), which attempts to balance the conflicting priorities of different park users. For example:
- The protection of the park's environment, wildlife and natural features - things that can be harmed by excessive tourism. This is not only the Authority's job, but is also powerfully lobbied for by conservation and wildlife groups.
- Tourists who come to enjoy the park need roads, parking, accommodation, shops and restaurants which are not necessarily going to be good for the countryside.
- Local businesses may want to encourage more and more visitors.
- Farmers may be concerned about damage to fences and livestock by walkers and their dogs.
- Local residents may be worried about congestion, littering, noise pollution and the erosion of footpaths.
If these different interests are not carefully balanced, the result could be damage to the environment, local people becoming upset or even hostile, and tourists being put off visiting the park.
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