Banning cars has been raised as a possible solutions to tackle traffic problems at a popular and idyllic Lake District location.
Hosted by Friends of the Lake District (FoLD), a landscape conservation charity, a full day meeting was held at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal to discuss the problems around transport and traffic in The Lakes. 

The ‘Rerouting Expectations: Future transport options in the Lake District’ conference brought more than 100 people together from a number of organisations including national parks, Cumbrian businesses and councillors as well as transport researchers and travel companies. 

With around 20 million tourists coming to visit the Lake District ever year, according to FoLD, nearly two thirds of businesses find congestion a problem and one third of visitors have difficulties parking. 

One particular area highlighted by The National Trust was Seathwaite, in Borrowdale. 

It has become a popular place for walkers to park their car before climbing up Scafell Pike, Great Gable and other beautiful fells in the Lakes. Working with the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and Cumbria Highways, one controversial plan being mooted by the trust is to make the area car-free. 

“We’re exploring some alternative options for traffic in this valley,” said a National Trust spokesperson. “It’s complex, and we don’t yet have a solution. We’re keen to seek the views of those who use the valley. 

“Helping people to access these beautiful hills will always be a priority for us, alongside minimising the impacts of visitors on local people.”

One of the key points which came out of the conference included some form of visitor payback scheme to help fund a better transportation service. as well as actions being identified on a place by place basis to suit local needs. 

Kate Willshaw from FoLD said: “We had consensus across the board that there is a problem with car traffic in the Lake District and that radical solutions are needed.  

“Business groups, transport experts and environmental charities all agree that we need solutions that could include road use pricing for visitors, car free valleys and massively improved public transport so people can get around the Lake District without having to use their cars.”

“The conference has started these conversations. Now it is up to the responsible organisations and their partners in the county to take action to improve travel and transport within the Lake District and other rural areas.”

Emma Moody, of the LDNPA said: “We have a 2040 Visitor Travel Strategy which aims to reduce the number of visitors travelling to the Lake District by car and encourage more sustainable and low carbon modes of transport. The long-term target is to reduce the amount of visitors who currently arrive by car from 83 per cent to 64 per cent by 2040. 

“This strategy looks at a range of issues, including encouraging cycling and walking as alternatives to cars and using new technologies.

“We recognise that there are no single solutions and we are continuing to work with National Trust and Cumbria County Council and the local community to help identify what measures will work in Seathwaite. All such solutions will need to be developed with local communities, farmers and businesses.”

Managing director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, said: “The Lake District and wider county is visited and enjoyed by millions each year. When judged by any national or international standards, the Lake District really does not have a traffic problem.

“Very occasionally, in certain limited areas of the Lake District, emergency works on the road network, rail disruption and limited parking can combine with a peak travel day and so inevitably there can be added pressure but even on these exceptional days you can always find quiet places to visit.

“The rest of the time traffic flow is normal, as those of us who live and work here can attest.

“That isn’t to say that there isn’t progress to be made on sustainable transport and reducing carbon initiatives and Cumbria Tourism supports the Lake District National Park’s Sustainable Travel Framework ambitions to reduce carbon and support the visitor experience through the development of further sustainable transport opportunities."