A visual impression of how the zip wire will look from the Armboth car park on the west shore of Thirlmere. Image: Treetop Trek

A visual impression of how the zip wire will look from the Armboth car park on the west shore of Thirlmere. Image: Treetop Trek

The company behind plans to build two zipwires across Thirlmere in the Lake District said most people who responded to a consultation were in favour of the project.

Treetop Trek released a visual impression of how the visitor facility would look, emphasising the minimal impact on the scenery, it said.

The two zipwires form part of an activity hub the Cumbrian company wants to build around the reservoir, centred on the Swirls car park on the eastern side of the main north-south A591 Lakes road and using land owned by United Utilities.

Opponents say the zipwires will be intrusive and that participants travelling over the road will create a distraction to motorists.

Treetop Trek says it is putting the final touches to its planning application to the Lake District National Park Authority. An 18km (11-mile) family friendly cycle way also forms part of the proposals, improving in parts an existing cycle track.

It said more than 2,000 responses have been received since the consultation opened in July.

A company spokesperson said: “The hub would boast the longest cycle track in the Lake District and would be a world-class visitor attraction for the area, with over 52 per cent of its visitors coming during the off-peak months, providing much needed off-peak income to local shops, cafes and accommodation providers.”

Treetop Trek, which operates a small zipwire at its main site near Windermere, along with high- and low-wire challenge routes and Treetop Nets, activity nets set in the woodland at Brockhole. The site attracts 75,000 participants each year. It also has similar operations at Ripon in North Yorkshire and Heaton Park in Greater Manchester.

It said the proposed Thirlmere hub would create 53 local jobs and generate an extra £600,000 spent in the local economy every year.

“It is thought that the hub would also attract a younger generation of visitor which is a demographic currently in decline in Cumbria,” the spokesperson said. “According to a Cumbria Tourism survey, since 2006 the proportion of visitors to Cumbria under the age of 45 has dropped from 38 per cent to 30 per cent, and now 68 per cent of visitors are classed as ‘post-family’ meaning they are over 35 and visiting without children.

“For those that opposed the scheme, the overriding concern regarded the visual impact of the ziplines. Keen to provide reassurance on this, Treetop Trek has commissioned local landscape architect and 3D expert Ian Ibbotson to create a true, technically accurate representation of what the zip lines would look like from the nearest possible viewpoints.”

Treetop Trek abandoned plans for a zipwire down the Greenside valley near Glenridding in 2014 in the face of strong local opposition. In September 2011, the national park planning committee turned down a bid to build a 1.2km zipwire at Honister between Borrowdale and Buttermere, the brainchild of the late Mark Weir, then owner of the Honister Mine, who died in a helicopter crash near the site.

Thirlmere: 'tranquillity away from the A591'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Thirlmere: 'tranquillity away from the A591'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Conservation charity Friends of the Lake District 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.”

Mike Turner, managing director of Treetop Trek, said: “We value the feedback we have received during the consultation process and thank everyone who contributed for taking the time to do so.

“This is an incredibly carefully considered proposal and we have spent over three years studying this site and its suitability.

“We are pleased with the emerging application and are eager to see what the future holds. This scheme, accessible to all, will provide worldwide appeal especially exciting a diverse, younger audience, including young families.

“We look forward to setting out the many benefits of the scheme to visitors and residents, and this accurate visual demonstrates the appropriate setting of this scheme in this landscape.”

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  3. Glenridding zipwire plans dropped in face of massive local opposition
  4. Formal plans submitted to Lakes authority for two Thirlmere zipwires
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