Today the Thirlmere Valley and its lake lie serene, nestled between the central fells and the Helvellyn range and offers its streams, woodlands and rugged fellsides to the deer, squirrels and the sheep, not to mention the many visitors who gain so much solace from this treasure of landscape.
Amidst this picture of peace and tranquility, a raging storm of commercial force is brewing that threatens not just this beautiful valley but the landscapes of the Lake District at large. Within weeks of the Lake District National Park being declared a World Heritage Site a project was announced to place eight wires across the midpoint of Thirlmere to create a thrill seeking, zip wire experience. The project is supported by bodies such as Cumbria Tourism, Cumbria Chamber of Trade and United Utilities have also backed the bid with their resources. These organisations see the potential to increase visitor numbers and hence income for the Cumbrian tourist economy. The plan envisages large influxes of people into the valley – 127,000 by year two, and also changes in the landscape despite the modest infrastructure that exists in the valley.
The decision whether to allow this scheme rests with the Lake District National Park Authority and will take place on 7 March 2018. However, there has been a surge of opposition to the scheme with many people writing letters and emails expressing concern for the area and opposing the plan. A rally took place last weekend and an online petition called ZIP OFF (zipoff.org) currently standing at 13,535 signatures appears on Facebook. The issue has attracted media coverage locally and nationally and has been condemned by the House of Lords.