A MAJOR project to create a new floating jetty and improve access to Windermere’s western shore has begun.

The new development will see a new jetty at Bark Barn near Belle Grange from Easter 2014, proving direct access to the western shoreline for family walking and cycling for the first time.

It will also link up with the Windermere West Shore Cycle Trail and routes to and from Wray Castle. The overall aim is to encourage more people to explore one of the Lakes’ busiest tourist spots by water rather than by road and is all part of a partnership between the GoLakes Travel programme, the National Trust and South Lakeland District Council (SLDC).

The jetty will be a handy stop-off point for private vessels, ranging from small dinghies to larger boats, and Windermere Lake Cruises has offered to operate a passenger and cycle service to the jetty in summer 2014.

The new jetty is being designed by Walcon, a worldwide leader in the design, construction and installation of marinas and berthing facilities. Globally, the company has worked on projects such as Florida’s North Palm Beach Marina, the Victoria and Albert Waterfront in Cape Town, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dubai.

Meanwhile, in Cumbria, the company’s previous installations include Whitehaven Marina, Maryport Marina and Low Wood Watersports.

The Bark Barn jetty will be constructed in Portsmouth, before arriving in Cumbria in the next couple of weeks. It will then be craned onto Windermere at Lakeside, before being transported up England’s longest lake and installed ahead of the 2014 summer holiday season.

The installation itself will be a complex task, as it is being designed to be more environmentally-friendly – avoiding the introduction of large piles into the lake-bed. It will also be more ‘weather-proof’, with high resistance against strong winds and flooding.

Steve Ratcliffe, Director of Planning and Management at the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “This is one of the biggest infrastructure projects being supported through the GoLakes Travel programme and is a great incentive for more people to leave their cars at home and explore the area by boat.

“Not only will this facility help ease traffic congestion and reduce harmful carbon emissions, but it will enhance the world-class visitor experience on offer by giving both visitors and locals a completely new perspective on England’s longest lake. As well as linking in with scenic family walking routes along the western shore, there are plenty of options for easy cycling to Claife Heights and Wray Castle. Hawkshead is also within easy reach.”

South Lakeland District Councillor, Sue Sanderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment and People, said: “One of the most picturesque and peaceful shores of Windermere will be opened up by the new floating jetty. Walkers and cyclists will have direct access to this beautiful location.

“They will be able to leave their cars behind, get off a boat at Bark Barn near Belle Grange and walk or cycle along the West Shore Cycle Trail towards Wray Castle. At SLDC we want to play our part in increasing access to the western shore of the lake by providing visitors, local people and developers with high quality access points.

“The floating jetty at Bark Barn will be the first of a network of new jetties on Windermere. There are plans for a new jetty at Wray Castle Harbour and for one at the South Basin. Up until now there have been very few opportunities for people to gain access to the western shore. It will be a great introduction to this unspoiled location and to the cycle trail by the lake. If you’re on a day out it will be a real adventure to take a boat and explore on foot or by bike.”

John Moffat, General Manager for the National Trust’s South Lakes Property, said: “It is great that this project is taking place, helping to fill the gap on the western shore of Windermere to allow easy access for visitors without their vehicles. It is an important link in the access network between Claife Viewing Station and Wray Castle, both National Trust places where we are looking to improve our visitor offer. Key to both of these offers is the experience of getting there – and what better way to get to places in the Lake District than by boat, then bike or boot?”