Users on a triple zipwire. Photo: Treetop Trek

Users on a triple zipwire. Photo: Treetop Trek

The company that abandoned plans for a zipwire in the Lake District is proposing setting up a similar facility elsewhere in the national park.

Treetop Trek faced strong local opposition in 2014 to its scheme near Glenridding, but now wants to build a 1,200m-long quadruple line across Thirlmere.

The zipwire would be part of an activity hub at the lake, which would also see the setting up of an 18km (11-mile) cycle track around Thirlmere.

No plans have yet been formally submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority, but Treetop Trek, which operates an adventure facility at Brockholes between Ambleside and Windermere, is holding a public consultation meeting on Thursday.

Mike Turner, managing director of Treetop Trek, is proposing the hub in collaboration with international ropes course expert Nick Moriarty, who is also a director of Treetop Trek and owner and director of Zip World in north Wales.

Mr Turner said: “We have been very carefully considering locations within the Lake District for the last three to four years and are confident that Thirlmere would provide the perfect site for an exceptional family activity hub.

“We are now looking forward to consulting with local bodies and the local community on the viability of our proposal.”

The pair launched Treetop Trek in 2012. The site has a high-ropes route and features the UK’s first multi-use zipline activity. The company added its Treetop Nets in 2014, gained the title of best visitor experience in England in 2015.

A public display of the plans took place earlier this month in St John’s in the Vale.

The planned zipwire would cross Thirlmere. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The planned zipwire would cross Thirlmere. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The proposed hub and zipwire would be built on United Utilities land around the reservoir. The first consultation attracted about 100 visitors and today’s meeting will take place at Swirls Car Park, the proposed site of the main hub, between 4pm and 6pm.

The company said: “The Thirlmere Activity Hub would be an all-year-round attraction, attracting a large number of visitors, providing sustainable tourism for the surrounding area.

“This stunning part of the Lake District is not explored by the many and often bypassed by those travelling from Windermere to Keswick along the busy A591.

“We will attract people in all seasons to this fantastic outdoor adventure and, in doing so, help local businesses thrive.

“While our environmental impact is minimal, we are working closely with local stakeholders on a number of schemes to provide a positive legacy for the area including the restoration of native woodland and improved public access.

“The project will generate 28 full time equivalent jobs for the local community and our proposed community fund will help us invest back to into the local community.”

Under the scheme, riders on the zipwire would travel twice over the water from heights up to 130m above the ground, crossing the main A591 alongside the lake. Treetop Trek said it would be the highest and longest zip line in England.

In 2014, Treetop Trek dropped plans to construct a zipwire down the Greenside valley at Glenridding on national park authority land. A poll conducted by Patterdale Parish Council found 96 per cent of local people opposed the proposal.

The Glenridding zipwire plans prompted widespread local opposition. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Glenridding zipwire plans prompted widespread local opposition. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The latest plans have already drawn criticism from people who live near the proposed development. The Lake District was recently granted world heritage site status by Unesco.

Concerns raised include the distraction to motorists on a twisty section of the main Lakes road with zipwire users passing overhead, along with the possibility of items being dropped on vehicles; the presence of red squirrels in the forests around Thirlmere; the conflict with low-flying military aircraft, which frequently fly over Thirlmere on exercises; and the increased visitor numbers and accompanying traffic in what locals say is a quiet Lake District valley.

Conservation charity Friends of the Lake District said it had met the company to discuss the plans and its concerns over the proposals.

It said it supported the creating of the cycleway but would object to the zipwire, which it described as ‘wholly inappropriate’ for the location.

It said: “Although the structure itself may have a minimal impact we consider that while in use the proposal would cause significant detrimental impacts to the landscape character and diminish the tranquillity the Thirlmere valley possesses away from the A591.

“We are also concerned regarding the management of visitor numbers, increasing traffic and the provision of adequate parking for commercial development in this area of the national park.

“National parks are for everyone to enjoy not just those who can afford to participate in adventure experiences. A commercial development of this type in this prominent location could potentially have a significant impact on the features people visit the Lake District to enjoy – the landscapes, the tranquillity, the heritage.

“Furthermore, we must now also consider the Lake District’s newly bestowed status as a world heritage site. The Thirlmere Valley makes an important contribution to the Lake District’s outstanding universal value – the reasons for being awarded the status. This is especially true of the valley’s association with the early conservation movement.

“Thirlmere, and the resistance to the desire to create a reservoir to service Manchester in the 1870s was a seminal moment in the history of the conservation movement and landscape protection in the UK and beyond.

“This battle brought in to focus the fact that landscapes matter to everyone, not just those who own land; it highlighted the incredible natural resources of the Lake District but also its vulnerability and sensitivity.

“This proposal once again brings these issues in to focus albeit in a thoroughly modern context.”

Treetop Trek said it has already addressed some of the issues and said existing cycleways will be improved and incorporated into the attraction. The cycle tracks would be open to the public and free to use, it added.

The company, in addition to the Brockholes centre, has opened two further sites in Ripon, North Yorkshire and Heaton Park in Manchester

In 2013, the Lake District authority turned down plans for a zipwire at Honister, submitted by the Honister Slate Mine.

It was the second time the mine’s zipwire bid had been defeated. In September 2011, the national park planning committee turned down the original bid for a 1.2km zip-wire, the brainchild of the late Mark Weir, then owner of the mine, who died in a helicopter crash near the site.

The plan split opinion, with the Friends of the Lake District and two local parish councils opposing the zipwire, but Everest summiteer and Cumbria resident Sir Chris Bonington in favour.

  • grough contacted the Lake District National Park Authority for a comment but received no reply.

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