27th July 2017

We recently met with Cumbrian company Tree Top Treks to discuss their proposals for what has been termed a ‘Thirlmere Activity Hub’ comprising of an 18km family friendly cycleway and two zip wires across Thirlmere.

The company has launched its plans for consultation prior to submitting a planning application to the Lake District National Park Authority.

Whilst we have not yet seen a detailed planning application for the proposal (nor has it been submitted to the LDNPA) we are concerned regarding the impacts of this proposal.

In terms of the cycle way element of the development we consider that this could be a positive development provided it is designed sensitively. This could provide a safe and enjoyable means of accessing the Lake District sustainably. Furthermore the creation of this cycleway could encourage more people to cycle as a way of accessing and enjoying the outdoors and the associated positive impacts on physical and mental health and wellbeing.

However, the siting of the two zip wires East-West across Thirlmere we consider to be wholly inappropriate in this location and, from what we have seen so far, we would object to this element of the proposal.

Although the structure itself may have a minimal impact we consider that whilst in use the proposal would cause significant detrimental impacts to the landscape character and diminish the tranquillity the Thirlmere valley possesses away from the A591. We are also concerned regarding the management of visitor numbers, increasing traffic and the provision of adequate parking for commercial development in this area of the National Park.

National Parks are for everyone to enjoy not just those who can afford to participate in adventure experiences. A commercial development of this type in this prominent location could potentially have a significant impact on the features people visit the Lake District to enjoy – the landscapes, the tranquillity, the heritage.

Furthermore, we must now also consider the Lake District’s newly bestowed status as a World Heritage site. The Thirlmere Valley makes an important contribution to the Lake District’s Outstanding Universal Value – the reasons for being awarded the status. This is especially true of the Valley’s association with the early conservation movement. 

Thirlmere, and the resistance to the desire to create a reservoir to service Manchester in the 1870’s was a seminal moment in the history of the conservation movement and landscape protection in the UK and beyond. This battle brought in to focus the fact that landscapes matter to everyone, not just those who own land; it highlighted the incredible natural resources of the Lake District but also its vulnerability and sensitivity.

This proposal once again brings these issues in to focus albeit in a thoroughly modern context.
Further information can be found on the company’s website www.treetoptrek.co.uk/Thirlmere  where you can also submit feedback to the developer during this consultation phase prior to submission of a planning application.

The developer will also be holding a drop in session for the public on August 1st 2017 from 3pm -7pm at Thirlmere Recreational Hall. We would urge any members who are interested and who can attend to do so as this will be a good opportunity to see the plans in a greater level of detail and give your feedback to the developers.

We would stress that this application has not yet been submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority. We will ensure that you are kept updated on the progression of this application.