Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Major new Lake District sponsor announced

The Lake District National Park has teamed up with a major corporate sponsor in a deal believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Global giant Virgin has agreed to make a substantial investment in Cumbria and they have a lot of exciting ideas to help the region assert its claim to be the "adventure capital of England".

First up they plan to produce their own definitive walking guides and change the sport of "Wainwright bagging" into "Virgin bagging".  As an incentive to encourage more people to get outdoors and join in Virgin will be rewarding every hiker who can demonstrate they've climbed all 214 summits with a free "I've bagged 214 Virgins" T shirt.

Virgins as far as the eye can see

They also plan to invest in updating a number of the lakes themselves in an attempt to draw in more people.  Low Water, just below the summit of The Old Man of Coniston, will be heated and turned into an "outdoor adventure pool" complete with a waterslide running directly from the summit.

Stickle Tarn will become a giant jacuzzi with a drinks service available from The Sticklbarn pub in the valley below and to improve access for visitors with mobility issues a stair lift will be installed running from the pub directly to the tarn.

Site of proposed giant jacuzzi

Another fell to benefit from the new "rapid descent" concept will be Fleetwith Pike.  Richard Branson has made several secret visits to the area and, like many people, found the descent along Fleetwith Edge "long and bit tedious in places - nice views though" so he's decided to install a zipwire running from the summit of the fell to the back of the Bridge Hotel in Buttermere.

Virgin also plan to make the fells a safer place by installing giant inflatable tubes, emblazoned with the Virgin logo, on either side of accident blackspots such as Striding Edge and Sharp Edge.  Lake District Mountain Rescue gave the idea a cautious welcome: "Anything to improve the safety of walkers is, of course, welcome", they said "but we just wish they'd paint them green so they blend in better with the landscape."

Sharp Edge - safer in future

Friends of the Lake District have been surprisingly positive about the deal with a spokesman quoted as saying "Hell yeah, why not? This place could do with livening up a bit."

And finally, whereas many sponsorship deals have required a complete change of venue name to satisfy the sponsors, Virgin are making only one name change to one lake - Bassenthwaite Lake will, in future, be known as Bransonthwaite Lake.

Soon to be "Bransonthwaite Lake"

All those wishing to make their views on this announcement known can do so by contacting the Lake District National Parks Authority no later than midday on Tuesday 1st April 2014 or by emailing afool@novirginsincumbria.gov.uk.

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