A Facebook campaigner says he is “ready for a long fight” against plans to moor “gentleman’s yachts” on Grasmere.

The Lowther Estate Trust’s bid to moor up to 10 holiday cruisers on the lake, which it owns, has sparked a wave of opposition since being lodged with Lake District planners. Now, campaigners are preparing to gather on Grasmere’s shores this Saturday at 11am to show their strength of opposition.

Retired Grasmere postman Andy Astle was so dismayed by the prospect of holiday boats on the lake, he set up the Facebook page “Houseboats Off Grasmere” to galvanise objections.

He said when he first heard about the Lowther Estate’s proposals, he thought they must be “an April Fool’s joke”.

In just over a week, around 1,000 people have viewed the Facebook page from as far afield as Italy and Australia.

“The proposals are unacceptable development, spoiling the character of the lake for profit,” said Mr Astle, 62, who has lived in Grasmere since he was 13.

“We are not opposed to change, but any change has to be in the context of the beauty of the Lake District and not destroy the very reason why the majority of people love, live in and visit this area.”

He added: “If this application is successful, it sets a precedent for all the other small lakes - it will be the thin end of the wedge. 

“Today it’s Grasmere, next it could be Buttermere or Crummock Water.”

The Lowther Estate Trust is seeking a certificate of lawful existing use or development from the Lake District National Park Authority to determine if planning consent would be needed to moor the “gentleman’s yachts” on the lake.

David Bliss, chief executive of Lowther Estates, said: “Regarding any group, we are more than happy to meet with them and listen to their point of view.”

He explained: “The estate is often asked about moorings on Grasmere. We have therefore decided to ask the national park planning team if we actually require planning consent. We now await their decision.  
“In the meantime we keep an open mind on how the idea may develop and welcome the chance to engage with the local community.”

According to documents, each electric-motored vessel would measure up to 40 feet long and feature a kitchen, toilet and sleeping quarters for up to six people. Guests would board the yachts by rowing boat and stay overnight for up to a week.

No jetties or pontoons are planned, so guests would park their cars at one of three car parks at White Moss Common owned by the Lowther Estate Trust and walk to the embarkation point. The nearest car park is 750 metres away.

All waste would be collected on board and “no sewerage or grey water will be discharged into the lake”.

Lakes parish councillor Paul Truelove described the practicalities of the idea as “laughably uncertain”. 

The Grasmere ward member said: “They say that at the end of a week, all the grey water and rubbish will be taken by users from the cruiser onto a rowing boat to the shore, where there won’t be any jetties, and carried 750 metres to the car park where goodness knows what happens to it. 

“In terms of being a realistic proposition, it’s stupid.”

Cllr Truelove said in 20 or 30 years of living near the lake, he had “never seen anything bigger than a dinghy” or the occasional sailboard on the water, adding: “So it can’t be claimed that it wouldn’t be a change of use.”

Cllr Ella Footit, who also represents Grasmere on Lakes Parish Council, described the proposals as “ridiculous”.

“We are going to be a theme park if we carry on,” she said. “We live here because it’s beautiful and tranquil. The Lake District is being over-promoted, unfortunately, and it’s going to ruin it for everybody.”

So far, 16 letters of objection have been sent to the LDNPA. One deplored the prospect of up to 60 people “living and partying” on the lake. Another said the proposal would affect people’s ability to “enjoy Grasmere for what Wordsworth saw it as, “the loveliest spot”.”

Campaigner Mr Astle said he was “confident” planners would “make the right decision”, and a law firm was helping with a formal response to the proposals.

“Crowd funding will be organised with a view to pursuing a judicial review if this ludicrous proposal is allowed,” he added.