National Parks in the UK – The Lake District
Map of UK National Parks
National Parks (NP) are large areas of mainly rural land. England’s Parks cover
7% of its land area and Scotland’s two parks take up 7.3 %. In Wales a huge 20%
makes up its three NP. Globally, there are 6,000 NPs, protecting 12% of the
world’s land surface. The UK’s first NP was the Peak District of Derbyshire,
created in 1951 by an Act of Parliament.
After the world war two the aim of governments was to try and increase peoples quality of life. NPs aims were to conserve natural and cultural landscapes while allowing access for visitors to enjoy them. Earlier it was decided that the South Downs was to become the latest NP after a long period of consultation and it is expected to become one of the busiest as it is in such a densely populated region.
Many NPs are uplands such as Snowdonia and the Lake District; a few more are lowlands (Norfolk broads) and coastal (Pembrokshire). Land remains privately owned (81%), mostly by farmers, but the Forestry Commission, the National Trust, the Ministry of Defence and the water authorities also own some areas. The NP Authorities only directly control 1%. Local people make their living from the land and local businesses.
National Park: an area usually designated by law where development is limited and planning controlled. The landscape is regarded as unusual and valuable and therefore worth preserving.
Honeypot site: a location attracting a large number of tourists who, due to their numbers, place pressure on the environment and people.
The Lake District National Park
Background and attraction
The English Lake District is a glaciated upland area in Cumbria, north-west
England. It stretches 64km form north to south and 53km east to west. It became
a NP in 1951.
cultural heritage – considered to be England’s finest landscape
ribbon lakes like Lake Windermere – sailing, jet-skiing, windsailing,
powerboating. The lake is segregated into different areas for windsailing and
powerboating so the activities do not clash and quiet areas are left for people
seeking peace and quiet
fishing from the shore or from boats
walking – one of the most popular draws fro tourists – routes vary from
short and relatively flat to extremely long and tough – many guides are
available for purchase
mountaineering – challenges in corries and sides of u-shaped valleys
historical and cultural sites also attract tourists – the Lake District has
been occupied since the end of the ice age (10,000 year ago)
Beatrix Potter’s house
Impacts of tourism
There are both positive and negative impacts of tourism on the LDNP.
Traffic Problems: Over 89% of visitors come by car, often just for the day. Many roads, including A roads, are narrow and winding. Buses and large delivery vehicles have to use these to service both locals and tourists. Queues are a common problem, especially towards the end of the day when day trippers are heading home. Towns like Bowness-on-Windermere act as honeypot sites and were not originally built for the huge volumes of traffic that arrive daily in the summer, especially at weekends. Congestion and car parking are a serious problem. Car parks have been extended in
Bowness-on-Windermere but this has not been enough and in desperation, in the
countryside people park on grass verges, causing serious damage.
Honeypot sites: The Lake District has both physical and cultural honeypot sites. Beauty spots, small shopping centres and historic houses all attract hundreds of visitors daily. Cat Bells is quite an easy climb, so many people walk up this smaller mountain. It therefore suffers from serious footpath erosion. Across the Lake District, 4 million people walk at least 6km per year. Several areas have scarred landscapes. Bowness is an extremely busy shopping and recreation centre in summer, Honeypot sites need to provide access and facilities while remaining as unspoilt as possible.
Pressure on property: Almost 20% of property in the LDNP is either second homes or holiday let accommodation. Some local people make a good income from owning and letting such a property, and this is often forgotten by those who are more critical of second homes. The main issues include the following:
holiday cottages and flats are not occupied all year
the same is true of second homes, so their owners are not part of the
community full time
holidaymakers do not always support local businesses, often doing a
supermarket trip. On the other hand, the main supermarket in Windermere is often full of visitors buying a great deal of food and drink for their stay
demand for property from outsiders increases property prices in the Lake
District, causing problems for local people who are forced to move out to find
affordable homes on the edge of the region in Kendal or Penrith. This is the most serious tourist problem affecting local communities
Environmental issues: Water sports are not allowed on some of the lakes, but Windermere, the largest lake,
has ferries and allows powerboating, wind-surfing and other faster and more
damaging activities. The main issue is the wash from faster vehicles eroding the
shore. Fuel spills are not uncommon, causing pollution.
Tourism Management Strategies
Several strategies are being tried where the aim is to limit tourist impact
rather than to discourage visitors, which would be against the ethos of any
Planning an efficient road network:
county strategic roads, often like dual carriageways, are built on the edges of
the Lake District to help move traffic in and out as efficiently as possible
distributor roads link the small towns and key tourist villages
access roads are small and take less traffic. Many people do not drive
beyond the larger settlements. Some routes are ‘scenic’ and sometimes there is a choice, which splits traffic between routes
traffic on smaller roads can be slowed by traffic-calming measures in
villages, cattle grids in the countryside and an overall maximum speed
limit heavy lorries should be kept off scenic roads
Planning public transport:
where possible bus lanes operate in towns, although narrow streets limit this
park-and-ride schemes encourage people to leave their cars at the edge of
the National Park and go by bus. Costs are lower than town car parks
buses in the most rural areas remain a difficulty as roads are so narrow
repairing footpaths improves appearance and encourages people to stay on
reinforcing path surfaces reduce future damage
signposting routes limits the number of paths
fence off roadsides so people cannot damage verges
develop several new small car parks and hide them by landscaping using tree
reinforce car-park surfaces to prevent damage. ‘Waffles’ are large concrete
slabs with holes in them, like an edible waffle. Soil fills the holes and grass
grows, giving a hard green surface
bins should be provided at key points and emptied regularly. Overflowing bins encourage more litter
designated picnic areas mean litter has to be dealt with in fewer places
signs encouraging people to be responsible reduce litter
This is the most difficult issue. Management strategies cannot control house prices. Local authorities could build more homes for rent and developers could erect more
low-cost homes for sale. Little has yet to be achieved.
Speed limits for boats limit the amount of wash caused, but to prevent erosion speeds would have to be very low, which clashes with the main pleasure of the sport – going fast! The speed limit on Windermere is 18kph. Limiting the noisiest and most damaging sports to certain parts of the lake can restrict the amount of damage
– this link takes you to the Geography At The Movies website and has great link for tourism videos – make sure you look at the videos on national parks and the Lake District in particular