Thirlmere: Iconic Lake District valley or degraded landscape?

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty”. John Ruskin

This is one of the key questions at the heart of the current debate around controversial plans to place eight zip wires across Thirlmere. Proponents of the development state that the valley is already a ‘degraded landscape’ due to its man-made reservoir and forestry commission planting. Friends of the Lake District disagree, arguing that this spectacular and remote valley is of great significance for its beauty, tranquillity and symbolic status.

Thirlmere: photo by Rob Ireland

It was in order to protect Thirlmere that the UK’s first conservationists came together in the 19th century to protect this iconic landscape from development plans to create a reservoir to supply demand for water from the ever-expanding cities of the north west. These first conservationists and environmental campaigners included John Ruskin and social reformer, Octavia Hill.

Ultimately they lost the battle but not the war. The reservoir was built but a spark was lit as people now understood the importance of coming together to protect places of natural beauty for the long term. These reformers led to the birth of Friends of the Lake District and the creation of Britain’s first national parks.

We once again find ourselves fighting to protect this precious valley, but we are also reminded of our origins and mandate to protect all the unique and beautiful landscapes of the Lake District and Cumbria.

Our planning and campaigning work will be vital in 2018 as this particular proposal goes to planning committee. We also expect to see the return of our pylon campaign, as a funder has been identified for the new nuclear power station on the west coast of Cumbria. Other pressures from tourism, energy, water or other sectors are just around the corner and with your help we will be here to represent our members by ensuring no proposals are allowed to irreversibly damage the landscapes of this amazing place.

But we can’t do any of this without your help. Please give to our planning and campaigning fund and help protect the Lake District in 2018.