THE Windermere ferry will be taken out of the water later this month for its five-yearly refit and full inspection.

Mallard, a vessel that can carry 18 cars and more than 100 passengers across England’s longest lake between Bowness and Far Sawrey, is due to be out of service from Monday 28 April and is scheduled to be back in service on Saturday 24 May.

In common with other passenger-carrying vessels Mallard, operated and maintained by Cumbria County Council, is required to have a periodic out of water inspection by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

This inspection has been timed to coincide with a full refit and the county council is investing £300,000 in the planned work, which will involve rebuilding the engines and servicing all hydraulic, mechanical and electrical systems on the ferry. In addition, the ferry will be fully repainted and improvements will also be made to vehicle barriers and security during the refit, which will be carried out on the slipway at Lakeside.

While Mallard is out of the water, the county council has arranged for Windermere Lake Cruises to provide an alternative passenger launch service, which will have limited space for up to two bicycles at a time. The service will operate between Ferry House jetty and Pier 3 in Bowness Bay, subject to weather and other safety considerations. The replacement service will operate throughout the day between 8am and 5.40pm.

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience the inspection and refit may cause but this is essential work which will ensure the ferry undergoes a thorough inspection and is in top condition and ready for the busy summer season.”