Opponents say Thirlmere is the wrong place for zipwires. Photo: Rod Ireland

Opponents say Thirlmere is the wrong place for zipwires. Photo: Rod Ireland

Conservation charity the Friends of the Lake District has announced plans for a rally in protest against the planned zipwire over Thirlmere.

The gathering will be held at a secret location on Saturday 27 January.

The group said anyone wishing to attend can book free transport to the event, with pick-up points around the Lake District.

And another charity has added its voice to those opposed to Tree Top Trek’s plans for the Thirlmere activity hub, which would see twin four-line zipwires constructed across the reservoir, along with an upgrade to cycle tracks in the area.

The John Muir Trust said it had submitted an objection to the proposals after careful deliberation. The Scotland-based organisation recently took over the management of neighbouring Glenridding Common, which includes the summit of Helvellyn, from the Lake District National Park Authority.

Mel Nicoll, campaigns coordinator for the trust, said: “We are concerned this development could have a negative impact on the landscape and the sense of tranquillity in this part of the Lake District.

“We are also concerned that it is in conflict with the Sandford Principle, which states that conservation must have priority in the national parks.

“We are not opposed in principle to zipwires, but we would contend that there are alternative sites and believe there is no overriding need for this development in this special landscape.

“Even within the national park there are areas where the impact on landscape and tranquillity would less damaging.

“Because we have taken over the management of Glenridding Common, we feel we have a responsibility to ensure that the wild-land experience of walkers approaching Helvellyn from the west is protected.”

The Friends of the Lake District said it wanted to bring together people to show the strength of feeling against the proposed development before the national park’s planning committee makes it decision on the application.

The Friends’ chief executive Douglas Chalmers said: “National parks were established to conserve the natural beauty of special areas, and these zipwires would destroy the character of this landscape and the undeveloped views and peace of this valley.

“Zipwires are not a bad thing, but Thirlmere is not the right place for them. This protest will be an uplifting, inspiring and peaceful get-together allowing some of the thousands who feel the same to join together in visible protest against the plans.”

The event is expected to last about 1½ hours, from 11am to 12.30pm. Transport pick-ups will be from Windermere, Grasmere, Ambleside, Penrith, Threlkeld, Keswick and St John’s in the Vale. Details of how to book to attend the rally can be found on Friends of the Lake District’s website.

The Friends said speakers at the rally, at an undisclosed location, will cover undisclosed location topics such as:

  • What is the purpose of the national park?
  • How does the proposal conflict with the policies that are in place to protect it?
  • A parish perspective
  • The artistic and spiritual influence of the landscapes of the Lake District
  • What does adventure in the outdoors mean?
  • A young person’s view.

Tree Top Trek, which already runs an activity centre at Brockhole near Windermere, has submitted plans for the zipwires and is supported by Cumbria Tourism, the Lake District Park Partnership Business Task Force, and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce. Tree Top Trek’s owner Mike Turner sits on the Cumbria Tourism executive committee.

Opponents include the Wainwright Society; British Mountaineering Council; Open Spaces Society; National Trust, and individuals such as actor Caroline Quentin, president of the Campaign for National Parks and film-maker Terry Abraham.

The deadline for submissions from the public to the Lake District planners has now passed.

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