A Lake District for Everyone

What is it?

National Parks contain the most beautiful, spectacular and dramatic areas of countryside in England. The government’s 2019 Landscapes Review: National Parks and AONBs (known as the Glover Review) rightly highlights that these places are national assets supported in part through state funding and therefore are available for everyone to enjoy and support the nation’s health and wellbeing. However, Glover highlighted that visitors are not always representative of the full spectrum of British society.

The time is right to begin addressing the disconnect of some groups, and help the nation’s recovery from the global pandemic by supporting people’s health and wellbeing through access to the outdoors.

What we are trying to achieve is set out in the Partnership Plan here:

A Lake District for everyone

Celebrating the 50th accessible ‘Miles without Stiles’ route – 2022-23

Bowness and Windermere celebrated the opening of the Lake District National Park Authority’s 50th accessible ‘Miles without Stiles’ route to the top of Alfred Wainwright’s first fell: the Lake District National Park Authority has created an easier access path to the summit of Orrest Head, which can now be used by people with limited mobility, including people with powered-wheelchairs and families with prams and pushchairs.

Pam Black, the local resident who performed the opening ceremony, said:
‘It’s great to be able to get up to the summit on my electric scooter. I was really quite emotional at being able to reach the viewpoint for the first time in years. It was an amazing feeling and I now use the route regularly.’

Further updates on other accessible routes can be found in the Sustainable Travel and Transport section of this website.

Pam Black and friend, at the Orrest Head summit, overlooking Lake Windermere.
Pam Black and friend, at the Orrest Head summit, overlooking Lake Windermere.
Accessible Cumbria Conference 2023

Cumbria Accessible Partnership – 2022-23

As part of Cumbria Tourism’s ambition to position Cumbria as the most accessible destination in the North West, representatives from the Partnership, including the Lake District National Park Authority, the National Trust and Forestry England are working together to improve information, upgrade infrastructure and take part in business training to help make the county more accessible.

A conference was held earlier this year to discuss creating a long-term programme and identify training needs. As a result, the group are part of a consultation with Visit Britain to develop a new toolkit for tourism businesses and destinations across the country.

Generation Green – 2022-23

The Lake District National Park Authority and The Ernest Cook Trust created a new partnership in response to the Government’s £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund. As well as restoring priority habitats, the project – which was awarded funding in August 2021 – developed an engagement programme for young people from urban backgrounds to connect with nature. It provided training to upskill young people in habitat restoration/conservation skills to help with accreditation for jobs in the environmental sector. The project worked directly with 3,000 young people (under 26 years) over a 15-month period.

Changing visitor demographics – 2022-23

The latest Cumbria Visitor Survey results highlight increased numbers of younger people and a more diverse audience visiting. The 2022 Visitor survey also highlights that visitors are engaged in different kinds of activities to previously, for example, watersports, paddleboarding and kayaking have seen significant increases between 2018 and 2022. This could be at least partly attributed to the change in visitors coming to the Lake District.

In 2018 52% of visitors to Cumbria were under 50, by 2022 there had been an increase to 74% who were under 50. In 2018 2% of visitors in the Lake District responded that they or someone in their party considered themselves to be a member of an ethnic minority community, whereas in 2022 this figure had increased to 16% for Cumbria and 22% in the Lake District.

Partner organisation survey and Journeys Project – 2022-23

In 2022 a questionnaire was sent to all Partners and Key Outcome Group members to establish a baseline of understanding of relevant Lake District for Everyone activity, policy and Partner demographics. The survey found that there is successful and meaningful engagement and educational work taking place by a variety of Partners and organisations in the Lake District. However, work undertaken by individual organisations is not coordinated with other delivery organisations and, particularly from a Partnership perspective, this excellent work is not celebrated.

The survey found that Partners and other relevant organisations who deliver Lake District for Everyone activities are less active beyond the Lake District National Park boundary. This is now an area of collective focus.

To make sure we sustain the demographic shift in our visitor population and to ensure that all sectors of society who visit the Lake District have a welcoming and beneficial experience, the Partnership has identified three audiences to focus on: disabled people; people from black, brown and racially minoritised groups, and deprived/underserved communities from within Cumbria. The aim of our Journeys project is to establish the barriers the individuals face in accessing the Lake District, also potential gaps in service provision, to help identify how the Partnership can best design engagement and outreach work beyond the national park boundary. The first phase of the project is to plan a journey into the Lake District with three individuals from each of our key audiences.

Black-led creative project launches to diversify the British countryside – 2023-24

We are proud to be a supporting partner of Black Nature in Residence Programme – we have enjoyed collaborating with and learning from the appointed creative, Wajid Hussain. The BNiR programme, which is unique, ambitious and ground-breaking, consists of five residences for five creatives of the Global Majority in each of five northern National Parks, including the Lake District National Parks. This Black-led project aims to contribute to the changing narrative around who has a right to have a connection with nature and start adding more diverse voices to the climate crisis facing society today.

With funding from Arts Council England, BNiR is an exciting opportunity for creatives within the Northern regions to be in residence within nature for one year.

Through our work on the Lake District for Everyone Key Outcome, we aim to increase our awareness of the needs of a diverse audience of people, to increase support to underserved groups to access the outdoors to benefit from the Lake District’s inspiring landscape, and to improve the representation of voices in developing projects going forward. We recognise that to tackle the environmental challenges facing society today we need to increase our impact by collaborating with leaders from more diverse backgrounds. BNiR is a great project to help the Partnership advance this work.

Wajid has already ran workshops with a number of local schools, with more to follow as his residency continues in 2024.

Wajid in action at St Martin and St Mary’s Primary School, running a creative writing workshop as part of his residency. c/o Ruth Suddaby, LDNPA

Fells for All Festival which runs from 1 May to 31 July 2024 – 2023-24

Cumbria Tourism, a Partner of the Lake District National Park Partnership, chairs the Accessible Cumbria Partnership, which is a network of businesses and organisations across the county who are all working together to improve access to the area. Great progress has been made this year:

The Accessible Cumbria Partnership have launched the Fells for All Festival which runs from 1 May to 31 July 2024, the celebration is all about unlocking access to a range of open spaces and will promote access to people with physical impairments alongside those with hidden disabilities such as neurodiversity, arthritis or hearing loss.

Cumbrian based charity Outdoor Mobility is making amazing places accessible through a growing network of all-terrain Trampers. Working with LDNPP partners, Cumbria Outdoor Mobility have launched 5 new tramper sites in Cumbria since summer 2021 and 7 new tramper friendly routes. The new Lake District sites are:
• Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
• Wray Castle, near Hawkshead
• Grizedale forest, near Hawkshead
• Sizergh Castle and Gardens, Levens

The expansion of the Tramper network is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Cumbria Community Foundation.

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