Sustainable Travel and Transport

What is it?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of visitors arrived in the Lake District by private motor vehicle; this has increased further since ‘lockdown’ restrictions have eased. The challenge for the Lake District is to be a place where everyone, regardless of wealth or ability, is able to access the National Park sustainably via different modes of transport. Low carbon travel needs to be the obvious and most attractive choice for essential and leisure travel. The nation’s mental and physical health-benefits from active travel in an inspirational landscape need to be secured.

What we are trying to achieve is set out in the Partnership Plan here:
Sustainable travel and transport

Lakes Line – 2022-23

Currently only one train per hour can run on the Lakes Line. A business case for railway capacity improvement has therefore been developed by Cumbria County Council with consultants Mott McDonald and has been submitted to the Department for Transport with letters of support from the Partnership.

Cumbria Coast Line – 2022-23

An outline business case for improvements to the Cumbria Coast Line railway has also been submitted. We await a decision on both of these. The Partnership is also committed to station accessibility improvements on all lines, and in particular at Ulverston and Staveley. Schemes have been submitted for Ulverston, Oxenholme, Millom and Workington through Network Rail’s Access For All Fund. A bid has also been prepared by Community Rail Cumbria and is supported by Partners

Progress of Lakes Line business case for capacity improvements – 2022-24

Cumbria County Council submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for capacity improvements to the Lakes Line in January 2023 for consideration as part of the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) process. Since submission there has been ongoing dialogue between the Department for Transport and Westmorland & Furness Council on the business case.

Sustainable travel to Cumbria and the Lake District 2023-24


By EV or hybrid


By train


By Coach


By Boat or Ferry

Sustainable travel around Cumbria and the Lake District


By boat or ferry


By bus or coach


By EV or hybrid


By train
Source: Cumbria Tourism Visitor Survey 2022

Electric Vehicle (EV) charging – 2022-23

Moving towards lower carbon electric vehicles is one way in which we can reduce the carbon emissions from visitor and resident travel. However, in order to use them the related infrastructure must be available to allow people to charge their vehicles.

The Cumbria EV Charging Partnership of public and private sector representatives has been awarded £1.3 million of government funding to develop a range of charging solutions both on and off street.

BMW EV charging in the Lake District (photo c/o Tom Kahler)

Since the launch of the Partnership Plan the number of EV charging locations has increased from 32 to 74 with many more in the pipeline, including chargers in Hawkshead, Ambleside and Ravenglass installed by the Lake District National Park Authority as part of a programme in partnership with BMW and Podpoint. Support for community chargers has been offered from the Low Carbon Lake District Programme. which also supported a successful business engagement event in Keswick.

We are on course to hit our ambitious target of 108 EV chargers by 2025, there is still some work to do regarding geographical distribution especially in the west, north and east areas of the Lake District.

The Partnership aims to work in collaboration to secure the decarbonisation of transport, including supporting carbon reduction technology on buses, trains and water transport. New Euro6 low emission buses were launched in April 2023 on the 555 bus route which runs between Keswick and Lancaster through the Lake District. Two other potential projects are in development.

E-bike charging points – 2022-23

The Partnership is keen to develop a network of e-bike charging points. Most e-bike users find that their batteries last for as long as they need them without needing to recharge but welcome a safety-net of locations that offer charging facilities ‘just in case’. Cumbria Tourism and the Lake District National Park Authority are therefore working together to collate information on businesses that will offer this.

Electric Vehicle Charging Points in the Lake District

Source: Zap-map.com

Accessible Routes – 2022-23

The Lake District National Park manages a network of 50 accessible routes known as Miles without Stiles which are very popular with a range of visitors, including families with pushchairs or small children, disabled people and visitors or residents who need or prefer an easy-to-follow scenic route with a good surface.

Since the Partnership Plan was written this network has been improved by:

  • Reopening the Keswick to Threlkeld Trail
  • New routes at Dunmallard (Pooley Bridge) and Orrest Head (Windermere; see the Lake District for Everyone section of this website for the latter).

In 2023-23 the Lake District National Park Authority supported the National Trust to develop new accessible routes at Sizergh and Grasmere, funded through the government’s Access to all Fund. The first part of the West Windermere Way also opened in Spring 2023 with the remainder due to open in the summer. Forestry England has also just opened a new accessible trail, the WOW trail, in Whinlatter forest.

Keswick to Threlkeld Trail – 2022-23

Following major damage in Storm Desmond in 2015, this popular 5km route was rebuilt in an £8 million project led by the Lake District National Park Authority and supported by Highways England, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and funded through the European Social Investment Fund and the Lake District Foundation’s visitor-giving programme.

The work involved excavating a tunnel and rebuilding or refurbishing bridges, resurfacing the whole route, re-grading a substantial section to improve accessibility and creating seating and interpretation.

The trail reopened in December 2020 and proved immediately popular with both residents and visitors. It has been particularly welcomed by disabled people and families with pushchairs. In its first year alone (the 2021 calendar year) 265,000 people used it, who also spent £15 million in the local economy, benefiting local businesses. This is in comparison to 110,000 users before 2015. Figures continue to be high in 2022.

The total distance travelled on the trail by bike, on foot and by wheelchair since opening is estimated as 2.8 million km (1.8 million miles) resulting in significant carbon savings.

Community Sustainable Travel pilots

Source: Lake District National Park Authority and ACTion with Communities in Cumbria

New traffic management community pilots delivered – 2023-24

We continue to work with community groups and are developing potential schemes in a number of valleys in partnership.

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