Ribblehead station, with Whernside in the background, is the starting point for one of the walks

Ribblehead station, with Whernside in the background, is the starting point for one of the walks

Hundreds of walkers are expected to step out on Saturday to highlight the effects of Government cuts on England’s national parks.

The Campaign for National Parks has joined the 38 Degrees organisation to set up the walks in all 10 of the areas to help people learn about the challenges facing the landscapes and to enjoy the countryside.

National park authorities have had their Government budgets cut by up to 40 per cent in real terms over the past five years and the CPN said there is concern that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – the lead department for national parks – will have to make huge cuts to meet the Government’s £20bn savings plan over the lifetime of this parliament.

Campaign for National Parks chief executive Fiona Howie

Campaign for National Parks chief executive Fiona Howie

Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said she was delighted that so many people were taking part in the walks to help promote the huge challenges facing national park authorities.

She said: “National parks are among the most beautiful and valued landscapes in the British Isles, containing some of our most breathtaking scenery, rare wildlife and cultural heritage.

“Ninety million visits are made to them every year, with people eager to enjoy their iconic landscapes, uninterrupted views and tranquillity.

“Our parks are living landscapes, home to diverse communities, and must be conserved for the benefit of all – both now and in the future. That is why we are leading a campaign calling on the Government to stop cutting funding for the English national parks and to make sure national park authorities have enough money to protect our most iconic landscapes for future generations.

“To deal with the huge funding cuts national park authorities have been forced to cut back on the maintenance of footpaths, close visitor centre and reduce funding for flood protection, forestry, climate change, education and ranger services.”

The walk comes a fortnight after the annual National Parks Week when the minister Rory Stewart described national parks as the soul of Britain and as areas which brought together the environment, traditional farming communities, tourists and elements of our history, poetry and literature.

He said in a YouTube video: “I would like to work very closely with national parks and the British public to make sure everybody in Britain has the unique experience of going to one of our national parks,”

Ms Howie welcomed the minister’s words but said warm words were not enough. “We recognise that national parks need to continue to evolve and we know they are being proactive about accessing new sources of funding,” she said. “But national parks are national assets and the Government needs to give them sufficient resources to make sure they continue to deliver important environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to the nation.”

Details of the walks are on the 38 Degrees website. The save the national parks petition can also be found on the 38 Degrees website.

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