Popular UK beauty spot closed off to public as locals left devastated by end of access to historic path

 The U7003 road

More than 1,000 locals have gathered to protest the road's ongoing closure

Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 06/11/2023

- 18:31

Updated: 06/11/2023

- 19:31

The historic U7003 road has been shut since 2021

Over 1,000 locals have mounted a protest to keep a historic Lake District road open.

The road, which is a popular beauty spot in the UK, has been shut since 2021, after a storm caused substantial damage.

Ramblers, cyclists, and horse riders have been unable to access the U7003, which is beloved by many outdoor adventurers.

Its temporary closure has left explorers unable to complete a full circuit of Thirlmere, which has prompted a massive wave of backlash.

Thirlmere reservoir

A proposal is being prepared by the council to approve a permanent closure of the road until it is deemed safe


Yesterday, angry locals gathered to show their disdain at the closure of the road.

Organiser of the Keep Thirlmere Open campaign, Mark Hatton, said: “We are here today to object to the woeful lack of progress to reopen this road after almost two years.

“We are here to show that we won't simply accept that this road must be permanently closed to all traffic: walkers, cyclists, horse riders and motorists.

“We are here to demonstrate a collective sense of disbelief that any of this is truly in the interests of public safety; that this isn't about public safety, it's all about corporate safety and convenience.

“We want this public right of way to be restored. We want walkers, cyclists, horse riders and motorists to be free to enjoy the safety, beauty and peacefulness of this road.”

Alongside the protest, almost 10,000 people have signed a petition to keep the beloved road open for safety and public right of way reasons.


The petition demands: “We want the public road along the western side of Thirlmere Reservoir in The Lake District to be reopened to walkers, cyclists and motorists as a through route.

“We are opposed to the proposal by Cumberland Council to permanently close a section of this road on the western side of Thirlmere.

“We firmly believe that the entire road should be reopened and remain open as a through route to all forms of traffic, including walkers cyclists and motorists, in order that all who wish to use this route as an enjoyable, quiet and scenic route should be able to do so.”

The protest and petition come ahead of a meeting on Friday by Cumberland Council’s highways and strategic board.

A proposal is being prepared by the council to approve a permanent closure of the road until it is deemed safe.

However, protestors fear that the road will never reopen if the order is introduced.

Land next to the road, known as Rough Crag, was also damaged by Storm Arwen two years ago.

Thirlmere reservoir

The U7003 is beloved by many outdoor adventures


Owners of the land, United Utilities, said that it poses a danger to road users.

Cumberland Council said it was carrying out its own review of the most recent survey provided by United Utilities.

It said: “Once this has been concluded it will inform the content of the Statutory Notice (under Section 151 Highways Act 1980) which the Council will then serve upon United Utilities to carry out works to make safe and secure the remaining length of the U7003 (the Rough Crag area) so that the road can be reopened to all users.”

United Utilities said they were committed to reopening the road.

In a statement, the company said: “Since 2001, independent engineering specialists have identified an ongoing and unacceptably high risk of rock and tree falls onto the highway at the section directly below the crag that could cause significant injury.

“United Utilities has been working with specialist engineering teams to assess the rock face and identify what needs to be done to make it safe.

“Due to the complexity and the sensitive nature of the proposed work, United Utilities has also been working with the relevant authorities on an alternative solution.

“This would be a for a new lakeshore path which would provide a safe traffic-free route along the reservoir edge for walkers, cyclists, wheelchair users and horse riders.

“This proposed path would extend away from the crag and onto the reservoir edge before joining back up with the highway.”

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