Helping independent businesses be heard

It’s been a pleasure to see Lake District businesses getting their ‘open for business’ message out to visitors.

Hawskhead and other attractions on the Western side of Windermere have been suffering for weeks after the vital car ferry stopped running following a fire.

Tourism businesses in Hawkshead and surrounds rely on the ferry to bring in visitors – and the school summer holidays are their peak period. Some have reported a drop in takings of between 30-40 per cent.

While the ferry not running was bad news, it was exacerbated by a lack of any road signage or advertising telling visitors about alternative routes to the village.

We take our #LawtoDoor service to Cumbria every month and have often used the ferry on our travels around the south of the county.

We also have strong family connections in Hawkshead.

So, we determined to lend our support.

It started with a simple tweet.

Merrick #LawtoDoor tweet

Local businesses got their heads together to decide on what further action to take and with the help of our friend David Helliwell, at HelliwellMedia they have been making themselves heard.

The ferry closure had already sparked interest in the local newspaper The Westmorland Gazette and BBC, but this week the village has been receiving regular calls for updates.

TV, radio, print and web media coverage

A film crew from ITV Border and both Breakfast and News Hour teams from Radio Cumbria*, as well as other print and web media, have taken up the story.

Thanks to local MP Tim Farron for getting involved and updating on what he’s been doing to help. This includes contacting experts at Scottish ferry company CalMac to see if they can offer assistance.

There has been a ferry at the site of the current Windermere Ferry for more than 500 years. So it’s uplifting to join these independent businesses in their fight to ensure it survives.

We hope Cumbria County Council pulls out all the stops to get the replacement engine in as soon as possible. The service – which can carry 1,000 people a day – needs to be running again before the scheduled date of October.

Better road signage is now in place. Plus villagers have plans to keep in the public eye, including a public meeting on August 7.

Car ferry sign seen by Merrick

How visitors were told the news


Hawkshead open for business signs

How visitors are told the news now


So our own message is simple. Visit Hawkshead!

It’s the home of Beatrix Potter, Hawkshead Relish, welcoming teashops, independent retailers, fine pubs. And a community that likes to get things done.

Here’s the link for information on how to reach Hawkshead by alternatives to the car ferry, just scroll down.

*Hawkshead clips at about 36 minutes and 1 hour 37.