New ‘Fells for All’ festival: Promoting accessibility to Cumbria’s diverse landscapes

by | Mar 18, 2024 | News

Lake District Calvert Lakes Credit: Steve Barber

Businesses across Cumbria are being urged to get involved in a new three-month festival called ‘Fells for All’, aimed at making the county’s unique and diverse landscape more accessible for everyone.

Running from 1 May to 31 July 2024, the celebration is all about unlocking access to a range of open spaces and will promote access to people with physical impairments alongside those with hidden disabilities such as neurodiversity, arthritis or hearing loss.

Fells for All has been developed by the Accessible Cumbria Partnership; a network of businesses and organisations chaired by Cumbria Tourism who are all working together to improve access across the county.

The festival ‘steering group’ is made up of partners including:

  • Anyone Can
  • Bendrigg Trust
  • Calvert Lakes
  • Cumbria Wildlife Trust
  • Forestry England
  • Lake District National Park Authority
  • National Trust

Fells for All will align with the centenary celebration of 12 Lake District peaks being gifted to the National Trust and will run from now up to the main anniversary of the first public gathering on Great Gable, which took place in June 1924. It is also inspired by Geoffrey Winthrop Young, who was injured in the First World War and scaled Great Gable using a specially designed prosthetic leg, before delivering a speech to the assembled crowds.

The ethos behind this momentous occasion was to open up Cumbria’s diverse landscapes for everyone’s wider health and wellbeing – a message which chimes with the Accessible Cumbria Partnership’s hopes for the Fells for All festival.

Throughout the next 12 months, a wide range of organisations are being encouraged to develop events which are inclusive to people with additional access needs – from walking routes and outdoor activities, to dementia friendly sensory walks, creative workshops, relaxed theatre performances and more. They can then be promoted through Cumbria Tourism’s visitor-facing website and marketing channels.

Meanwhile, the county’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) has also designed a marketing toolkit to give businesses of all shapes and sizes the confidence and practical ideas to take part in Fells for All festival.

Gemma Procter, from Cumbria Tourism, says: “The recent Cumbria Visitor Survey showed that 14% of visitor groups include someone in the party with health issues or a disability that limits their daily activities. 

“This underlines the importance of making spaces more inclusive, to enable people with additional access needs to explore more widely and make informed decisions about what is doable for them. So collectively, the Accessible Cumbria Partnership has developed the Fells for All festival to do just that!

As well as the iconic fells the Lake District is famed for, Fells for All encompasses lakes, coastline and low lying areas, so the concept can be used flexibly to help businesses marketing what they’re doing to support better accessibility for all.”

She adds, Making it easier for everyone to enjoy shared tourism experiences is a key priority for Cumbria’s emerging Destination Management Plan (DMP) and it’s great to see both businesses and partner organisations keen to support this shared aim.”

Jane Saxon, the National Trust’s General Manager for the North and West Lake District, adds: “The gift of 12 Lake District summits one hundred years ago marked a transformational moment in access to the outdoors in this country. Spending time in nature inspires us and brings a range of physical and mental health benefits to everyone who visits. Now, together with our partners, we’re working hard to remove barriers and to improve access to more and more beautiful and inspiring outdoor places across the Lake District.”

To find out more about Fells for All, visit: www.fellsforall.co.uk