A Gang of Four - enough?
For long enough I have despaired at the growing number of "groups" on the fells.
"I wandered lonely as a cloud..." said Wordsworth
Nowadays it's more likely to be: "We stumbled busily as a crowd..."
A Crowd on Esk Pike
Come On! What's this all about? A group of maybe 15 in total hog the summit of Esk Pike. Me and a couple of friends were bullied away, so they could take their photos and dominate the area.
Good Lord! This has to be controlled, it can't carry on this way. And look further up, there's loads more.
I have written to walkers' groups, the National Park Authority and the National Trust and here are some of the proposals that I have put forward for the Lakeland Fells and maybe other popular walking areas. Let's have a Code of Conduct:
1. No groups of more than four, counting children as half, so five if two are under 14.
2. Timed tickets for all the major fells - so popular start points will be ticket controlled and you will have a PIN number to enter before you are authorised to proceed. This is to ease congestion on popular routes. Maybe peak and off-peak tickets.
3. Two minutes maximum in the vicinity of fell summits, say 10m zone - this will prevent hogging and allow everyone to take their photos.
4. No more than one dog per person. Owners of two dogs must bring another walker with them. This is to help control canine behaviour.
5. At busy times, summer weekends, bank holidays etc., Cumbrian residents should be encouraged to stay at home, to allow the daytrippers and tourists to enjoy a quieter walk.
6. Retired folk should also be encouraged to stay at home at weekends; this will allow those who work from Monday to Friday a little extra time and space on the fells.
OK or Not?
I'd like to see the back-marker a little further back, maybe a good fifty paces. If your group consists of more than four, my proposals will require the party to leave the start point at intervals, possibly five minutes apart.
This will be a thing of the past. A warden will attend the highest peaks on the busy days and put out markers around a 10m diameter from the summit, diners will have to sit outside the circle.
Big Do on Steeple
Organisers of Big Do's will need to register their plans. If too many are in the group and they are heading for a small summit, then plans will have to change. Only one Big Do per walking group per year. No Beer.
Team Building on Pendle Hill
Organisers of team building events will pay a "fell fixing" premium. Businesses must pay for their part in footpath erosion.
Summit Hoggers on Wetherlam
This will also be a thing of the past. No summit hogging, no groups of more than four, no clustering within the 10m zone.
Two Minutes Max - Helvellyn Trig
Get in, get the photos, get out.
Congestion on Orrest Head
This scene is chaotic, my proposals will sort it all out. The man nearest the camera is a Cumbrian resident - he wouldn't be there at busy times; the lady in the centre has two dogs - she will have to appoint a minder for dog 2; Dave Brown (white shirt) is in the clear - he lives in Lancashire.
Dawn's 214 on Castle Crag! Gary Jones' photo of the ensemble on June 11th 2013
Big Problem in Snowdonia
It's not just Lakeland that has crowding problems.
Contact me with your thoughts on this matter. It's the wide open spaces that lift the spirits; the unhindered views that hold in the memory and the peace and quiet that rewards the solitary traveller.
I'm still awaiting replies from the folk I've written to. Webpage submitted on April 1st 2011.