Work begins at Fell Foot for new sports facilities, backed by Sport England
This week heralds the start of an exciting new major project at the National Trust’s Fell Foot.
A new sports facility is to be built on the shore of Windermere, thanks to £500,000 of investment from Sport England.
The £1.9 million development is part of a series of improvements to the National Trust-owned site, which include: the restoration of the 19th century boathouses, a new café, landscaping the historic garden area and a small glamping area. These proposals were given planning permission in October 2015 by the Lake District National Park.
Steph Byast, Fell Foot Operations Manager said: ‘We’re excited to say that today sees the start of a project we’ve been discussing and planning for years, with our architects Muf Architecture/Art. Our contractors are Thomas Armstrong Construction and are moving in this week. We’ve been working closely with current and future users, looking at the design plans and practicalities. Materials and services such as heating will be low maintenance, better environmentally and to have a low visual impact in the historic landscape of this fantastic place. The park will be open as usual over the winter, and fully open from Easter. The new facilities will be opening October 2017.’
The new facility will include new changing rooms and showers for swimmers, sailors, canoeists and rowers, also runners, walkers and cyclists in fact any kind of outdoor sport activity; as well as club and community social space and meeting rooms, for training courses, yoga, buggy fit and other activities.
There will also be covered and outdoor storage, workshop space and upgrades to the jetties and slipway provision. The new facilities will continue to provide a base for South Windermere Sailing Club which has been based at Fell Foot since 1961, and Windermere Rowing Club who joined us in 2014.
Mark Fearnley of South Windermere Sailing Club said:
‘We’re really looking forward to having a new club house and changing facilities, along with much improved launching facilities, a bigger boat park, and more car parking. South Windermere Sailing Club is a thriving family friendly club that provides everything from teaching beginners, through youth coaching, up to highly competitive racing. We hope that these developments will attract a whole new group of members who want to go sailing and racing at this beautiful location.’
Fiona Marley Paterson, Chairman and Founder of Windermere Rowing Club said, “As a new club, establishing the sport of rowing in the South Lakes for the first time, we could only have dreamed of building multi-million pound facilities. Our Learn to Row courses have been incredibly popular and our club has grown to a thriving, active community in two years. Working with the National Trust and other local sport clubs on such an exciting project has allowed us to find more suitable facilities quickly and in exactly the right way: in partnership with other water users. We’re really looking forward to building on the spirit of co-operation that we’ve already begun at Fell Foot and celebrating all our sports under one roof for many more years to come.”
‘Visitors can use it as a base for self-led activity, experiencing ‘taster’ sessions for various activities; or they can take the plunge, and join as a club member, if they wish to participate regularly.
It will provide easy access to the outdoors and state-of-the art changing facilities. As well as on-the-water activities, Fell Foot is also host to a fast-developing ‘Park Run’ which enables new and experienced runners to experience running together in fantastic safe, surroundings, and also hosts growing sports such as Nordic walking and orienteering.
Gareth Field, National Trust Outdoor Sports Programme Manager said: “The parkrun has become a fantastic community event bringing on average 150 people a week into Fell Foot, for a 5k race, at 9am every Saturday in the main season. Some of those have been so inspired by their surroundings they’ve become regular volunteers at Fell Foot.”
Tom Slater Fell Foot Project Manager said: “We’ve wanted to improve facilities and increase local water sports participation for a long time, and we’re delighted to have that vision supported by Sport England. Fell Foot offers one of few public access points to the lake at the southern end and this development will enable lots of people to experience and enjoy getting out on the water.
Director of Property, Sport England, Charles Johnston said: “We are delighted to provide £500,000 of National Lottery funding to help the National Trust develop this fantastic centre. Offering new customer-friendly facilities, as well as better spaces for storing and accessing boats, Fell Foot can now attract even more people to water sports all year round. Situated at the shore of Lake Windermere, it’s the perfect spot for water sport enthusiasts, and thanks to their offer of taster sessions, it can also be enjoyed by beginners too.”
The lakeshore has been flooded every winter, often experiencing up to 8 ft. of water in the facilities, rendering them out of action for many months and costing thousands to repair. The new building will be sited out of the risk area providing longer term a sustainable and usable building enabling people to use Fell Foot all year round.