Without a doubt, the Lake District is my favourite place in the world.

A strong claim but it seems that many people agree with me. The Lake District National Park is the most visited national park in the UK. Last year a mind boggling 19 million people visited the Lake District and it is estimated that this will rise again this year.

The Lake District’s recent inscription as a World Heritage Site adds another dynamic. In coming years the Lake District is likely to attract visitors in even greater numbers and from a wider global audience.

This is somewhat of a dilemma for Friends of the Lake District. One of our two fundamental objectives is to engage people with our amazing landscapes. We are passionate about young and old from all backgrounds experiencing our mountains and lakes: discovering adventure, uncovering nature and realising the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing that can come from spending time in these awesome places.

And yet, such vast visitor numbers can conflict with our first charitable aim, to protect the landscapes of the Lake District. One particular conflict has been increasingly evident in recent years: traffic congestion. With 19 million visitors come many millions of cars, indeed 93% of visitors to national parks travel by car. Much of the road system is at capacity and yet the demands on it are certainly set to increase. If left unchecked, noise, congestion and pollution could inadvertently end up ruining the special places we flock to visit.

In my travels abroad I have often been impressed by how easy it has been to abandon the car for the week and rely on valley shuttle bus services or rural trains and trams. Often a small tourist tax at the beginning of my stay entitles me to free public transport for the duration of my trip. Of course the Lake District is a unique context and will require a bespoke plan, but encouraging substantial usage of sustainable transport has been achieved in other parts of the world.

Friends of the Lake District is spearheading work to help find practical and creative transport solutions to what we feel is one of the most pressing challenges facing the Lake District. Alone we cannot be the answer, but we aim to be a catalyst, bringing partners together from across the county, to start identifying key issues and exploring practical and innovative transport solutions.

Please give to help us address the challenge of increasing traffic congestion, and help us realise our vision of making the Lake District the most sustainable national park in the country.