1 July 2020
Working at Coniston Boating Centre, I’ve always been proud of my role with the Lake District National Park Authority. I love the fact that I can help people have a memorable experience on the lake, explore the valley on two wheels and I have the most spectacular ‘office view’. But following the coronavirus restrictions, our visitors needed a new type of help – a way to stay safe while exploring the national park. I joined a small team of car park staff, volunteers and partners to become part of a new parking and visitor website: saferlakes.co.uk. – and I couldn’t be more proud.
Coronavirus changed the way people visit the Lake District. Some people are being far more cautious, but it’s also brought new people to the national park and it’s unfortunate that some of them aren’t familiar with the countryside code: respect, protect, enjoy. So we’ve had a busy time patrolling the car parks, putting up safety signs and working with partners, such as the police, Fire Service, National Trust and Cumbria County Council to be able to share the ‘real time’ information on saferlakes.co.uk.
So far around 150,000 people have used the resource and that makes me very happy that the work we’re doing is having a real impact on visitors to the Lake District.
We’ve made it as simple as possible and introduced a traffic light system so that at a glance, you can see which car parks are quiet, getting busy or full. When they are full we are directing people to alternative areas. Some of the feedback we’ve received has been that we encouraged people to explore new areas of the Park and people have found new favourite locations, which is great.
We have around 100 dedicated volunteers who patrol areas of the Park to check on car park statuses and log them on saferlakes.co.uk, which has been a huge help. But unfortunately we have all been challenged with the increased littering and other unpleasant, antisocial behaviour.
We’re also making sure that pay stations are in good working order, where possible are contactless and that there’s hand sanitising facilities available for all our visitors.
We’ve now reopened most of our toilets in the National Park but we’re providing status information on whether ours or partner toilets are available on a given day, again to make it as easy but as safe as possible for people to visit.
Obviously it’s been a very difficult time for us all, but out of the coronavirus pandemic we’ve managed to make a fantastic partnership resource that will help people enjoy their visits as safely as possible whilst looking after our communities.
If you’re planning on visiting the Lake District, I encourage you to please plan ahead and check saferlakes.co.uk and to respect our communities and the landscape. We hope you enjoy your visit to the Lake District.