Never the twain shall meet

Date: Tuesday 10th October 2017

A DEBATE which took place at a Lake District National Park Authority meeting this week contained themes which resonate far beyond the room in Kendal where it was heard.

At stake was the future of a field at the foot of one of Lakeland’s most popular fells, Catbells — to which thousands of visitors flock every year to take in the scenery and experience the outdoors.

The desire of so many to enjoy the pleasures of this unspoilt area is the very thing that is threatening its nature, and that is the crux of an issue on which feelings have been running high for many years. As visitors jockey to park their cars on the narrow roads around the fell, they create an eyesore and, it is claimed, a danger to pedestrians.

An application to build a car park to contain this growing problem has met with protest from those who see such a move as wholly inappropriate in one of Cumbria’s best loved rural locations. The applicant argues that the status quo — jammed roads and verges — is equally unacceptable.

It is the job of bodies such as the LDNPA, council planners and inspectors, guided by carefully drawn-up policies, to navigate what should and should not be allowed in the best interests of all. The local economy, so dependent on the tourist pound, must be allowed to flourish. At the same time, the demands of tourism must not be allowed to ride roughshod over the very qualities that make the area so attractive to visitors and those who live here.

One of the objectors to the Catbells car park proposal drew on the words of John Keats and Joni Mitchell to make his point at Wednesday’s meeting. In a nod to another wordsmith, who has hit the headlines on the international stage this week, we would speculate that, when it comes to the two sides of this debate, “Never the twain shall meet”.