It’s an amazing privilege to work in such a beautiful corner of England
As the Lake District bids for World Heritage status, General Manager for the West Lakes portfolio Marian Silvester talks about how she balances the demands of tourism and conservation in this outstanding area.
I’m lucky enough to look after three of the most beautiful areas in the Lake District - Wasdale, Eskdale and the Duddon Valley. We have the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, the deepest lake – Wastwater and Wordsworth’s favourite valley – the Duddon. Covering around 40,000 acres, these valleys are some of the most unspoiled areas of the Lake District, and it’s my job to conserve and enhance the captivating character of each one.
As a portfolio we are pretty unusual in the Trust and therefore my role as General Manager is in some ways different to others’ across the Trust. We do not have any pay-for-entry properties, nor any shops or tearooms, so our commercial operation is more limited than most. Sources of income for the property include one car park, our residential properties and our 28 tenanted farms. Every penny we raise is reinvested into caring for the landscape, improving how we help people enjoy the countryside, and looking after our houses and farms.
The Trust’s focus on Land, Outdoors and Nature has pushed West Lakes into the spotlight, and the important work that we do here is achieving greater awareness. We are working with partners and local communities on a range of projects, including mammal conservation, creating new low-level path networks, and continuing to improve the paths in the high fells. We are also exploring opportunities for income generation – including hydropower. In all our plans it’s vitally important that we’re able to strike a balance between conservation and landscape management, while improving our overall visitor experience.
We’re committed to building great relationships with our tenant communities in the West Lakes, and we are very open about sharing our ambitions around countryside management. We believe that our tenants are key partners and by working together we hope to deliver shared conservation objectives and improvements for our visitors. This embodies the Trust’s approach of keeping places special for ever, for everyone.
The Lake District’s bid for World Heritage status is very much to the fore at the moment and the importance of our valleys to this is clear, in particular Wasdale with its iconic mediaeval wall system, and long farming history.
It’s an amazing privilege to work in, what is for me, the most beautiful corner of England. And the most exciting thing about my role here in the West Lakes is that the decisions we take and the work we do today are helping to secure the future and cultural landscape of these inspiring valleys.