Previously unseen buildings at the National Trust’s Fell Foot Park have opened to the public for the first time.
Five Grade II listed boathouses on the shoreline of Windermere have been restored as part of a 3-year National Lottery Heritage Fund project. One boathouse incorporates the Lake District National Park’s first (and only) Changing Places facility – a fully accessible changing room with a height adjustable bench and hoist for those with complex care needs.
Councillor Will Clark, of Cumbria County Council, was there at the official opening last Friday on Changing Places Awareness Day, and said: “Through disability, age or infirmity some people require additional toilet provision. Without it their lives, and the lives of their families and carers, are severely restricted. They are left with the choice between limiting the time they spend ‘out and about’ or suffering the indignity of being changed on a toilet floor. That’s why we need Changing Places.”
The central boathouses now have level access throughout, and inside the first, an animated film shows 19th-century life on Windermere during its heyday of lake festivals and regattas. Fell Foot’s owner at that time, Colonel Ridehalgh, was heavily involved in this social scene and visitors can also see the original winch which pulled his steam yacht, Britannia, out of the lake. Other elements of this 3-year project include restoration of the Pinetum (the park’s collection of specimen trees), newly planted wildflower meadows, renovation of the café and viewing platform, and the complete refurbishment of the old Gas House, originally used to power the park’s grounds and (now long gone) Victorian villa.
Charlotte Upton, Project Manager for the National Trust, said: “We’re incredibly proud to be opening the restored boathouses with the first Changing Place facility in the Lake District. With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund we’ve been able to save this important part of Windermere’s heritage and open up the boathouse complex for everyone to enjoy.”
Fell Foot Park is free to enter (parking is pay and display or free for National Trust members) and open every day 8am-6pm.