Lake District bids to attract more diverse visitors

The head of the Lake District National Park Authority has said he wants to attract a greater diversity of visitors, amid concerns that swathes of the population feel excluded from national parks.

Richard Leafe, the Cumbria park’s chief executive, told Sky News that the Unesco World Heritage site must change to merit continued public funding.

He said that if such parks are seen as exclusive to one group, they “start to lose their relevance and therefore the very reason for calling it a national park”.

A Government-commissioned report into the future of Britain’s protected landscapes, published in September, criticised national parks for not doing enough to make people welcome.

Mr Leafe said: “We are deficient in terms of young people, we are deficient in terms of black and minority ethnic communities and we are not particularly well-visited by those who are less able in terms of their mobility.

“Our challenge is to see what we can do to reverse that, to encourage people from broader backgrounds and a wider range of personal mobilities into the national park to be able to benefit in the same way as those other groups do.”

But this may be an uphill task, with Sky News reporting that the authority is facing a High Court judicial review in the new year about its refusal to ban four-wheel drive vehicles from some fell trails, while Keswick Town Council has passed a vote of no confidence over the creation of a tarmac path through woodland.