MORE than 500 people braved the driving wind and rain at Grasmere to protest against what they see as the ‘commercialisation’ of the Lake District.

The event organised by the ‘Houseboats Off Grasmere’ campaign, was originally set up to protest against an application, submitted by the Lowther Estate, to place 40-foot ‘gentleman’s yachts’ on Grasmere.

The application was recently withdrawn, but hundreds of people still ventured out in ‘appalling’ weather on Saturday to protest against what they saw as the ill-management and treatment of the Lake District National Park.

The attendance figure, however, fell short of the four-figure total initially anticipated by organisers.

“(The weather) honestly couldn’t have been worse if it tried,” said Joe Nichols, who manages the social media side of Houseboats Off Grasmere. “Down on the shores of Grasmere it was just driving rain straight off the lake. It was really an exceptional turnout given the conditions.”

After meeting in the centre of Grasmere, protestors marched along the A591, which was closed by police, and down to the shores of the lake via Penny Rock Woods. A number of particularly brave people even took freezing-cold dips in Grasmere.

There were three keynote speeches given; the first by outdoors filmmaker and photographer Terry Abraham, who discussed what he saw as promotion of commercialisation by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA).

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, then highlighted the success of the Houseboats Off Grasmere campaign. Indeed, the Lowther Estate cited the “considerable concern” its plans had generated when the application for gentleman’s yachts was withdrawn.

Finally, Douglas Chalmers, chief executive of Friends of the Lake District, outlined the charity’s conservation policy and said it would continue working to protect the national park.

An LDNPA spokeswoman said: “We understand the meeting on Saturday at Grasmere was partly a celebration of communities coming together to help look after the future of the Lake District.

“As the planning authority, we share their aim and have the highest possible controls to ensure development is appropriate to its location, communities and landscape.

She added: “This means the decisions we take are often complex, but are always balanced in line with our vision for protecting this special place. We have a shared vision with more than 25 partner organisations who help manage the national park, including Friends of the Lake District, and will continue to work together to secure its long-term sustainability as a place of natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage for everyone to enjoy.”