10 Ideas for cleaner, greener Lake District travel
As a family of cyclists the idea of holidaying without a car seems quite normal to us, but it’s not so for everyone. After a day spent trialing electric bikes we took ourselves off to the launch of Go Lakes Travel to find out about a £6.9m, four year project in The Lake District that wants to inspire visitors to change their Lake District travel habits, to leave their cars behind and do something more sustainable instead.
It’s important work; around 15 million visitors a year come to visit this National Park, 87% of them by car. And as they drive around admiring the beauty they collectively pump out 205,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, which according to my calculations is enough to fill some 20 billion party size balloons. Enough to turn the Lake District into a giant balloon sculpture.
The Go Lakes Travel project is a big money, multi partner project that wants to make The Lakes a shining beacon of sustainable travel – with better public transport, pay as you go electric cars, smart multi-mode ticketing, new cycle routes, and an electric bike network. And it’s not just got money behind it, there’s a lot of hope, passion, ideas, people and commitment too.
It all sounds great and I can’t wait for it to all come true. But the cynic in me can’t quite believe it ever will. I’ve tried persuading friends and family to abandon the car for a day and they look at me like I’m mad. But still, we came away intrigued and inspired enough to dream up our own ten point plan for things that might persuade families we know to get out of their cars while visiting The Lakes.
And while we don’t have the power to make wheels turn beyond our bikes, we do have big imaginations and an even bigger imaginary budget, so here’s what we’d do….
Our 10 point Go Lakes Travel plan
1. Lakeland themed, family sized electric vehicles
Imagine driving around admiring the fells in an electric Herdy Sheepmobile, pottering around the villages in Postman Pat’s electric van, going cross county in Felix the electric Tractor or going Cumbrian ghost hunting in a Scooby Doo Adventure e-Bus. What family of petrol heads could resist switching to electric for an experience like that? Our fleet of novelty Lakeland themed family size electric vehicles would be available for families to rent on a pay as you go basis.
2. Electric Lakeland Tuk Tuk Taxis
Sticking with the novelty electric-car theme, how about a fleet of Electric Lakeland Tuk Tuk Taxis or Pedicabs, offering short fun rides around or between honey-pot towns and popular attractions. Now that would turn a few heads.
3. A Top Gear style Family Travel Challenge
These days Top Gear is almost as much of a national institution as our National Parks and kids just love the Top Gear challenges, but this one comes with a twist – you do it without a car. Imagine checking into your hotel only to have your car and keys impounded as you are handed an invite to participate in the Say No to CO2 Family Travel Challenge. Your mission: survive a week without your car, crack the carbon free code and help save The Lakes. All instructions and information needed are provided in a special self-destructing mission pack, also available to download as an app. If you’re successful, you’ll get the car back (if you still want it), get a certificate of survival and be entered into a prize draw for a Lakeland holiday of a lifetime (car free of course).
4. A Lakeland Green Travel Passport
Kids will love collecting dozens of unique and interesting stamps in their individually issued Lakeland travel passports, with special pages and spaces to collect stamps for all the different forms of green transport they use during their holiday. Get it stamped when you leave your car keys at the hotel, boarding the bus, on the train, when you walk, bike, boat or go pony trekking. And with special rewards if you can show you’ve got five in a row or a full house, kids will be demanding parents take the bus.
5. ‘We Helped Keep Cumbria Green’ Discount Scheme
What family doesn’t end up forking out money on eats, drinks and snacks? And who wouldn’t like to save a pound or two on that? So why not have a ‘We Helped Keep Cumbria Green’ Discount or Reward Scheme for families, rewarding those who do their bit? Maybe offer a discount, free cup of tea, piece of cake, reduced entry or some other reward to incentivise greener travel. If a family can prove their green credentials, show they’ve travelled by boat, bike, bus or boot, that they’ve impounded their car at the hotel, or can produce a passport full of green travel stamps, then why not reward them?
6. Families go Free Fridays
Everyone we know thinks getting the bus, train or boat as a family can seem expensive compared to the car, but not on Families go Free Fridays, Subsidised Sundays or Two for One Tuesdays. How about luring price sensitive parents onto more sustainable forms of transport with incentive days offering reduced price or free family travel on certain days on certain routes, or occasionally on the whole network?
7. Rangers on Board
The National Park Rangers already do family friendly guided walks and meet the Ranger sessions. So why not get them onto bikes, boats and buses to entice a family or two to travel that way? Imagine a Ranger riding the top deck of the 555 bus, offering interpretation on the ride between Windermere and Keswick. Or a Rangers lounge on the Windermere Cruiser, or bike with the Ranger sessions? Why not combine a few of the above for a great day out with the Ranger? And while we’re at it how about a Young Rangers programme?
8. Single Ticket Travel the Lakes Experience
Families love their multi-activity days and activity based journeying can be a great experience too. Wouldn’t it be cool to get a bus to Windermere, pick up a canoe and paddle down to Brockhole, swap onto the steamer and cruise on down to Lakeside, pick up some electric bikes or mountain bikes to ride back up the quiet side of the Lake, all on one ticket with everything provided, easy connections, all equipment waiting and a picnic thrown in. Experience travel the Lakeland way, by bike, boat, bus and boot, all in one green, green day.
9. Bike out Bus Back
Imagine a great family day out on the bikes, knowing that at the end of the day you can go to a bus or boat hub and be sure a service will turn up with a bike rack or trailer large enough to get your whole family’s bikes on. That’s just what our network of Bike & Bus (or Boat or Taxi) Back routes will offer, with a cast iron guarantee – you’ll never get stranded at the end of the day.
10. Traffic Free Sundays or more
Imagine a hundred walking, cycling, roller blading and heelying families heading off around one of the Lakes or up one of the Lakeland valleys on a special Traffic Free Sunday. With roads temporarily closed off for a morning, afternoon or evening, families and riders of all ages could enjoy the scenery and company without worrying about traffic. Imagine a rolling programme of traffic free days visitors and locals the opportunity to experience different parts of the Park in peace and tranquillity each Sunday in season. Or how about we take that one step further? If you’ve ever heard of Center Parcs you’ll know families will pay good money to have their cars impounded, live in a wooden chalet in the woods and be forced to cycle everywhere. So why not scale that up for the National Park? We’ll make an area of it a permanent traffic free zone, require visitors to leave their vehicles outside and insist they travel only by sustainable means, including a free electric shuttle bus. It’s maybe at the radical end of the spectrum but if Center Parcs can do it…
Would any of these persuade you out of your car?
This post is part of our Family Adventure Capital Season. We’re exploring different ways families can adventure together in and around Cumbria, sharing ideas and inspiration to encourage families to get out, get active and adventure together.
Got some ideas for things we should try? Let us know.