Fell Foot Parkrun a (soggy) success!

About 250 people participated in Saturday’s Parkrun, despite the wet and windy weather! Everything went smoothly and the cafe was open (with the fire lit!) for drinks and snacks to warm everyone up. The photos taken on my phone are of poor quality (below), but some better pictures (plus a lovely write-up) are on the Westmorland Gazette Parkrun article.  There is also a great photo and brief summary from A Cumbrian Boy’s Blog – My First Parkrun. Take a look and maybe we will see you next week – don’t forget that everyone from first time runners to top athletes are welcome! Register here as a runner or a volunteer.

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Talk to the Experts – Trees and Traffic at Fell Foot Park

What is happening?
As part of the redevelopment, we have commissioned many surveys at Fell Foot Park, and would like to invite you to share in some of the survey results. As part of this we have organised two events:

21st October 2014 6pm-7pm: Tree Walk with Luke Steer, Chartered Aboriculturalist
Luke is an arboricultural Consultant at Treescapes Conultancy Ltd, based in Ambleside. He was educated at the Royal Forestry Society and is a highly skilled and knowledgeable professional. Luke has been working at Fell Foot Park to record what trees are present at the park, and their condition, and has some interesting information to share on our rare and ancient trees. We will meet at the boathouse café at 6pm, before taking a guided walk with Luke and our volunteer manager, Fi. They will chat through our plans to protect these trees, and our plans to improve the views throughout the park and reinstate its historic character, plus some opportunities to get involved.

4th November 2014 6pm-7pm: Traffic Management Q&A
Hosted by the Fell Foot Park team, with a presentation by Keith York (Traffic Management consultant), this is an opportunity to hear more about our work on traffic management at Fell Foot. We will explain the thinking behind the plans, including the advice we have received from other organisations. There will be a short, informal presentation followed by an opportunity for questions.

First Parkrun at Fell Foot Park!

After much anticipation, the first Fell Foot parkrun is this weekend! Parkrun is a weekly free 5km timed run, every Saturday at 9:00am, starting this Saturday.

Please register before your first run (you don’t need to register if you’ve done a parkrun somewhere else before – only ever register with parkrun once). Don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your barcode (if you forget it, you won’t get a time).

To run, or watch and support the runners, our address is: Fell Foot Park, Newby Bridge, Windermere, Cumbria, LA12 8NN. See http://www.parkrun.org.uk/fellfoot/ for more details.

You don’t have to be fast – everyone runs for their own enjoyment. Please come along and join in whatever your pace!

Can you help?
It is entirely organised by volunteers – email fellfoothelpers@parkrun.com to help. Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in The Boathouse Café – please come and join us!

History and significance of Fell Foot Park: Part II

The estate reached the peak of its development under Ridehalgh, who planted an arboretum of specimen deciduous trees and exotic conifers, as well as laying out shrubberies of species rhododendrons within the open lawns of the paddocks, to optimise views both from the house and from the lake. He also extended the walled kitchen garden behind the house and completed stables and kennels over the road, in addition to reworking the interior of the house (see the photo below – possibly a trophy room?), and lighting the entire estate with coal gas generated on site.

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The Gas House of 1869 (above), now Grade II listed, is a delightful picturesque cottage with attractively carved bargeboards of swept Gothic form, and is clearly intended as an ornamental feature of the landscape to be seen from the lake.

The end of the Ridehalgh era came in 1907, when the Colonel’s cousin George died and the estate was sold to Oswald Hedley (1884-1945). Hedley demolished the house and started to build a neo-Jacobean mansion – which had risen no higher than the cellars before his wife died in 1909 and he virtually abandoned Fell Foot for the rest of his life (see photos below of our archaeological excavations of the foundations earlier this year).

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His widow – his third wife, Mrs E.L. Hedley – gave the 18 acres between the road and the lake to the National Trust in 1948, in her husband’s memory. The intensive recreational use of Fell Foot enjoyed by thousands of visitors today began at this point, initially with a 21-year lease to Mr P.L. Rhodes to run the site for camping and caravans, and from 1969 under Trust management as a Country Park. It was the first in the Lake District to be so designated under the Countryside Act of 1968, which provided government grant-aid to set up the necessary facilities for outdoor recreation.

The Country Park which opened in 1972 with 19 holiday chalets in the woodland, facilities for touring caravans in the former walled garden, and a car park on the site of the house, has since been largely dismantled, certainly in respect of overnight stays. We know that a photo exists of the ’70s chalets, but we are yet to find it!

Fell Foot will always have considerable importance as a public amenity on Windermere, being one of the very few lakeside venues accessible to the public south of Bowness, and there remains the potential to restore the historic landscape to the splendour of its Victorian heyday!