The Trials and Tribulations of Parking in the Lake District

As we all know, parking in Buttermere can be quite tricky at times. We have seen it all; sideways parking, obstruction parking, parking where there is no parking and even people parked up who don’t even want to be (typically as a result of icy or inclement weather, but you can never be too sure what’s going through people’s heads).

It’s no secret that the Lake District National Park is just a little bit fantastic. It’s easy to see why people travel from all corners of the land to visit our small patch of God’s own garden. Whilst this is certainly a wonderful thing and something those lucky enough to call ourselves “locals” take great pride in, it does unfortunately come with certain drawbacks. Namely, parking, as the title may have subtly eluded to.

Even motorcyclists are forced to halt at the gauntlet of parked cars.

On to the crux of this particular post, and the cause of disdain for many, locals and visitors alike, parking, although it is more akin to abandoning ones car wherever possible. Like Spartans leaving new-borns to the elements, only in this case rather than infants, it is immovable hunks of metal strewn anywhere there is space, even if said ‘space’ happens to be the middle of the very road everyone is trying to traverse.

This is particularly true during summer when the weather beckons people to our picturesque neck of the woods. We certainly cannot blame them. Buttermere and the Lakes on a whole are a fantastic and truly beautiful place to be, calling it scenic would be a grave understatement. The problem, unfortunately, is that not everyone seems to want to share this wonderous place. Buttermere is not without parking, in fact far from it. There are several National Trust/National Parks car parks and even farmers open their land for parking, with most of the proceeds going to mountain rescue and other charities. The problem lies with the inconsiderate few. Pay for parking? Why would you when it’s free to block everyone by parking on the road. Walk a few minutes from the car park? The verge is right there, double yellows don’t apply if it’s just for a few hours, of course.

Unfortunately, Buttermere and The Lakes as a whole, faced such prolific obstructive parking that it was deemed necessary for Cumbria Council to take official steps of action to moderate it. This came as a result of this past year – after lockdown we certainly all needed a break and it came as no surprise, given the fantastic weather and the beautiful location, that many came to visit us here in the Lakes. The problem was, due to the volume of people, more parking was needed. However instead of spending time to look, the amount of people choosing to park on the road (not next to it, on it) was staggering. Emergency services were left unable to pass, which is truly a horrific prospect for those in need, especially when one considers the cause is simply a lack of consideration. Naturally it’s inconceivable to presume any of the offenders thought such a thing would happen but that is what it boils down to. People sparing no thought for how it may impact others, only how it will suit themselves.

These circumstances led to extreme pressure and challenges placed onto our emergency services and locals, many of which are farmers, so the decision for road closures last year had to be made. Now the council has officially taken further steps for the coming summer to offset the issues;

  • All double yellow lines have been repainted, no more claiming ignorance to their faded existence
  • Road closures will be put in place if necessary, accessible only to pedestrians and cyclists, thoroughfare only for locals.
  • Traffic monitors and volunteers will be spread out to direct the flow of traffic and advise on parking, as well as prevent obstruction
  • Traffic Wombles. Everyone’s favourite high-vis servicepeople will be out in force.

These are the measures the council have deemed necessary in order to put a stop to illegal parking and improve everyone’s experience with the lakes. While not yet set in stone, the decision to limit access to and impose entry charges to certain areas of the Lake District is also looking more and more likely. The alternative being to close the roads to cars, leaving them open only for public transport. At the same time, increasing the amount of spaces where possible is also being taken fully into consideration.

As a final note, our very own Bridge Hotel has always been rife with people helping themselves to on-site parking, sometime resulting in our residents being left without. These parking vultures now find themselves faced with barriers at both entrances to our carpark. These are reflective, lit up and well… giant barriers, so any who ignore the “Residents Only” signs and all the other parking red flags, will find themselves unable to leave, as exiting the carpark requires a code.  This means they will need to make the walk of shame to reception and ask us nicely to let them out. This will be done as and when we are able and fines may be imposed as stated on the signage. During peak times, we have just barely enough spaces for our in house residents, and as such we need to ensure we can offer our valued guests these spaces. It was not lightly we made the decision to restrict access to our parking, but it has been a necessary one.