It may sound like a bad dream, but it’s true: there are plans for zipwires across Thirlmere. More voices have been added to the chorus of condemnation
If approved and built, they’re set to be the longest and highest zipwires in England by a big margin. Altogether the developers want to build eight zipwires stretching across Thirlmere. The plans have stirred controversy from all quarters. Terry Abraham publicly resigned as ambassador for new charity Lake District Foundation in protest against the plans.

Laura Fiske, Planning Officer at Friends of the Lake District – who are at the forefront of the fightback against this proposal – stated:
“Friends of the Lake District is convinced that there is no justification for this development in this sensitive location and it should be refused. The country’s most spectacular places must remain free and open for all to appreciate and enjoy. National Parks must be managed for the interests of the many and not the few.”

The National Trust: ‘significant harm’

The National Trust published a statement on 20 December condemning the plans:
“We can see that elements of the proposed development would bring some benefits to the area with plans for improved cycle infrastructure and employment opportunities. However, the application raises significant issues of principle for the Trust, therefore we are objecting to this planning application. We believe it will damage what makes Thirlmere significant and special, for the following reasons:

  • “The proposed zip wire will have an adverse landscape and visual impact on the Thirlmere area, and generate levels of activity and noise which are at odds with its tranquil, undeveloped character.
  • “World Heritage Site Status has not been adequately considered in the submission.

“This presents major concern for us, since approval of the development would undermine the Sandford Principle. This is a policy which has put conservation at the heart of decision making for over 40 years in National Parks. The Principle is clear that when there is a conflict between conservation and recreation, the former should always take precedence.
“We are concerned that this would risk setting a precedent for further damaging developments, which cumulatively, could result in significant harm to the special qualities of the National Park, many of which are found in the land that we own and manage, and care so deeply about.”

Campaign for National Parks: ‘a serious threat’

The Campaign for National Parks is a national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote all National Parks of England and Wales, and they have joined up with Friends of the Lake District and others to object to proposals for the Thirlmere activity hub. Actress and President of the charity Caroline Quentin said:
“I’m concerned about the proposed zipwires in Thirlmere. My concern is that they will spoil the peace and tranquility of this beautiful, important place. I am all for development that enhances our National Parks but my instinct is that we should say no to zipwires in Thirmere.”
Ruth Bradshaw, Policy and Research Manager at Campaign for National Parks, said: “Thirlmere is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement in the UK. These proposals are a serious threat to the calm and tranquility of this beautiful place.”

The full planning application is available to view online using the Lake District National Park’s planning application search tool using planning reference: 7/2017/2298.
Comments on this application can be submitted by email to or by post to Lake District National Park Authority, Murley Moss, Kendal, LA9 7RL. The closing date for submitting comments to the planning authority is 2 January 2018.
Header image: © Shutterstock / Richard Bowden