New Perspectives – Charlotte’s story on access for all in National Parks

  • Contributor information: CNP

Access to National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty needs to be available to all. It’s so important that everyone, no matter their background, can access the experiences our wonderful Protected Landscapes offer.

This is the latest story to be captured as part of our New Perspectives bursary scheme, by Charlotte Ditchburn (Instagram @PublicRightsOfWayExplorer) who grew up on the outskirts of the Lake District National Park. 

Charlotte’s story explores the idea that access needs to be improved in the National Parks and that nature should be accessible for all. 


Commenting on her project Charlotte said:

“We should be able to roam freely throughout the Parks. Everyone should be able to experience these wonderful places”

Through meeting people who are working to improve access in the National Parks, Charlotte believes groups and organisations should focus on increasing the access rights and improving the physical infrastructure on the ground. 

“It shouldn’t be about looking to hard surface routes throughout these amazing landscapes, but it should be looking to create access through improvements to make the ways easier, safer, or more enjoyable for users, enhancing their suitability for use.”

It’s not just about access on foot – Charlottes story has informed her belief that access should be for all; the focus should not merely be for access for those on foot but should encompass all types of access within the Parks. 

“From cycling and horse riding to paddle boarding and kayaking, these activities can provide access to the green and blue spaces of the Parks for everyone no matter their background or ability, these spaces should not be off limits or at a cost to those accessing them especially in the National Parks.”

Commenting on the project, our Chief Executive, Rose O’Neill said:

“Experiencing the natural beauty of a National Park, like the Lake District, is an awe inspiring and wonderful experience. It brings significant health and well-being benefits to people, enriching their lives and relieving pressure on the NHS and other services. 

“National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are beloved national assets that belong to the entire country. It’s so important that everyone, no matter their background, can access these experiences.”

“The recent High Court ruling on wild camping shows how fragile the public’s right of access to these landscapes can be, and why our campaign for new legislation to protect these rights is so important.”
“By securing legal reforms we can remove barriers to our protected landscapes and ensure that everyone gets to enjoy more of these beautiful places for generations to come.”

That’s why we are calling for governments in England and Wales to commit to:

1.    New legislation to enshrine equal access to National Parks alongside nature recovery
2.    Support for farmers to deliver more public access
3.    Investment in public health initiatives to connect people to National Parks.

How you can help broaden access to our Protected Landscapes

Working with supporters we’re delighted that our amendment to the levelling-up bill has now received cross-party support in Parliament. The amendment takes forward key recommendations from the Glover Review, giving new purposes and powers to drive positive change for nature, climate and people’s access.

The next few weeks and months will be crucial as we look to win over even more support and everyone’s voice counts – including yours. You can pledge your support, and sign up for receiving more information about joining our campaign for legislative action

Contact your MP 

As well as her documentary, Charlotte has also created this short video, packed with ideas for anyone wanting to contact their MP about the importance of Access for ALL


More about @PublicRightsofwayexplorer

Charlotte’s day job:
I work in the Access sector full time, having studied Countryside Management at University where my dissertation focused on access to the countryside for people with disabilities. I’m also a volunteer at Keswick Calvert Trust Riding for the Disabled, so know first-hand of the issues faced by people with disabilities in accessing the outdoors specifically in the Lake District National Park. 

How did you come up with the idea for your film?
My idea stemmed from my own experiences in the Lakes and seeing the barriers faced by those with mobility issues in accessing these beautiful places, I wanted to raise awareness of this and showcase how the National Park is bettering the outdoors for everyone. I wanted to champion what was being done here so it can be rolled out around the country.

Why did you apply for the Campaign for National Parks New Perspectives Scheme?
I applied for the New Perspectives bursary as I’d never made a film before, I knew I would need support on the technicalities of producing a film and how to get my story out successfully. I applied for the funding to purchase things such as microphones to be able to create the best quality film I could. I knew I would need support to turn my idea into reality from the new world of editing to the fundamentals of storytelling the bursary covered all of this.

What’s been your highlight of taking part?
 The best thing about the scheme is the support on offer from both Ocean City Media and Campaign for National Parks. There was plenty of opportunities to ask for help, with regular catch ups to see how my project was going, it went very smoothly. I’ve learnt a great deal from filming to editing, all skills I had never used before, so it’s been a brilliant learning experience.

The New Perspectives bursary scheme works to ensure the voices of a diverse range of people are heard in our National Park and was aimed at 18–35-year-olds with a story about the National Parks in England and Wales. Find out more about the New Perspectives Bursary scheme, which gives a platform to those voices less heard in our National Parks here and to pledge your support to our work campaigning for these special landscapes like those in Charlotte’s story – sign up here.