The Lake District and Peak District national parks could ban cars from their most popular parts next summer as they struggle to cope with increasing visitor numbers.
With the national parks trying to fight congestion on a local level and adhere to larger climate commitments, those in charge are trying to find alternative transport options for visitors.
The Guardian has reported that park executives are “actively considering” the move, with the popular Great Langdale and Wasdale, both in the Lake District, likely to be on the banned list.
Free shuttle buses were trialled through the Wasdale valley last summer to cope with increased demand after Covid forced thousands to holiday in the UK rather than abroad.
Applications for two new car parks were rejected by the park on 3 November over concerns that they would set a precedent for car parks elsewhere in the Lake District. Despite this, a new car park at Ullock Moss is under consideration.
Speaking to The Guardian, Lake District national park chief executive Richard Leafe said: “It feels like we are at peak car. I want to see less reliance on it into the future.
“It cannot go on getting worse. Otherwise, it really will become too much to handle in our national parks. We need to see a shift to more sustainable travel.”
Meanwhile, Peak District national park bosses are keen to test an on-demand bus scheme known as ‘hail-a-ride’ to discourage car drivers.
Park chief executive Sarah Fowler described the system as “Uber but on a bus scale”. She said: “It’s not a scheduled bus service, but you hail it using an app and it carries people from gateway sites in to the park.”
Fowler has also been in discussions with local railway companies to provide more cycle space in carriages. She has also called proposals by the Hope Valley Climate Action Group to close some roads to cars a “really interesting concept”.
At Loch Lomond, bosses are considering increasing parking prices. Despite plans for a shuttle bus service next year, they recognise that public transport links need improving first.
Head of visitor services Kenny Auld said: “At the moment, it’s very unfair for us to criticise any car drivers enjoying the national park because we don’t have a system that provides many choices.
“We’re working hard to quickly catch up and create a system that gives people choice and that’s inclusive, affordable and keeps people connected to the landscape.”