The campaign group fighting plans to for holiday boats on Grasmere have stepped up its efforts by appointing a big-hitting barrister to help its cause.

“Houseboats Off Grasmere” revealed it had instructed leading London barrister Robert McCracken to prepare a document opposing proposals by The Lowther Estate Trust to moor up to 10 holiday cruisers on the lake, which it owns.

The QC is described as “a leading public, planning and environmental lawyer”.

The move comes after more than 200 people gathered at Penny Rock Beach for a “day of solidarity” at the weekend to protest against the move.

So far around 150 letters opposing the bid had been submitted to the authority and more than 2,000 people have signed an online petition.

Retired village postman Andy Astle is spearheading a Facebook campaign to galvanise objections.

It has attracted 1,600 followers and has been viewed 89,000 times.

Mr Astle said the campaign was “growing and growing” and it had “very big ideas”. 

He has dipped into his own pocket to help cover costs, and a crowdfunding campaign has exceeded its original £1,000 target.

The campaign has gained the support of a number of local politicians including Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron, who described them as the “start of a slippery slope to inappropriate and environmentally damaging development”.

And Grasmere Village Society this week unanimously agreed to oppose the holiday boats proposal.

Its chair Vivienne Rees said: “Grasmere lake is very special to us all. It’s a unique place, as Wordsworth said himself, which has a particular character of quietness and tranquillity. The committee said the whole atmosphere would be spoiled by these proposals.”

She said it would be “dreadful” if something “so contrary” to Wordsworth’s ideas went ahead as the 250th anniversary of his birth was being celebrated this year.

Lowther Estate Trust has applied to the Lake District National Park Authority for a certificate of lawful existing use or development for holiday boats on Grasmere.

In a statement the Trust said: “The question posed to the LDNPA was would it be lawful to put recreational leisure craft on Grasmere? 

“The question was not asking about residential boats – houseboats – as has been widely perceived but leisure boats such as are already seen, and have been seen for many years, on Coniston Water or Ullswater. 

“The question was a query in law, about the legality of the move. It was not a planning application.”

The Trust added: “As with all planning matters, the question has been posed in a public forum and all views are listened to and taken into account.”
The Trust’s chief executive, David Bliss, has met with Mr Astle this week. 

Mr Astle said he asked Mr Bliss to consider gifting Grasmere to the National Trust or Grasmere Village Society.

He said Mr Bliss told him the Lowther Estate Trust had had an offer accepted on two plots of land which would guarantee direct access to the lake from the land it already owns at White Moss Common.