Hi Alan and a happy new year to you. I'm struggling to understand the term 'backwardly rugged terrain'. What does that actually mean? I have a sneaky (some may say cynical) suspicion that after the baby-boomer/silversurfer generations have popped their collective clogs, the younger generation and their hard-earned will be enticed to the Lake District with promises of 'user-friendly interactive experiences' and other ghastly expressions of so-called modern life. The author of the letter is right; it's very patronising to assume our children don't want to experience the simple joy of the fells as we did (and others before us) with all the hard work, sweat and sense of achievement that goes with it. I'm also not sure Mr Leafe is correct in assuming deficient numbers of young people on the fells. I've walked the tops for many years and, to me, it seems the number has remained remarkably static and, in the case of young women, has definitely increased. However, Mr Leafe is correct in saying ethnic minorities are not well represented in the Lake District, be it on the tops or the tourist traps. It's something I've commented on in this forum and something that's puzzled and dismayed me for a long time. I feel the Lake District National Park Authority is right, at least, to acknowledge and attempt to address the problem.
I assume 'backwardly rugged' is, as you say, the idea that the landscape is too 'primitive/wild' whereas it should be 'easily accessible' to everyone. It's an editorial piece, by the way, rather than a letter.
I'm not sure what can or should be done to encourage more visitors from a wider range of backgrounds if, indeed, there is a problem. Where is the research evidence on the characteristics of visitors to the Lakes? Impressions can be misleading.
There seem to be a lot more important things worry about such as how to stop the character of the District being destroyed through overuse. No easy answers there, but fortunately Mr Leafe is paid to deal with such matters.
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves" - Sir Edmund Hillary
Hi Alan. Impressions can be misleading; they can also be quite revealing especially if enough people have the same impression. None of which is to say that proper research shouldn't be done. Such research might throw up pleasant surprises or glaring anomalies but my gut feeling tends towards the latter. There are, of course, other important matters to worry about (the proposed zip-wire at Honister for example. How the h*** did that get passed? Or the use of 4x4s on the District's green lanes). But I can't help feeling it should shame us deeply if a section of our population feels excluded from the freedom of the fells on account of their colour. If research proves this to be the case - and I would like to proven wrong - then Mr Leafe certainly has his work cut out for him and I would welcome his efforts. Regards, Niels R.
I worked briefly at Brockhole, the LDNPA headquarters between Ambleside and Windermere in the mid-80s, and the idea that the Lake District was not apparently attractive to the younger generations and ethnic minorities was being debated then - and that was 35+ years ago. As I remember, a study to suggest ways of making the area more attractive to the absent portion of the public was to be set up, but I never heard any more on the subject.