Saturday, 31 August 2019

Fell Foot

I ate A LOT of National Trust scones in August 2019. I had managed to visit 8 properties between January and July, but it wasn't enough. I had committed to finishing this project by December 2020 and 1.14 scones a month was not going to get me over the finish line.

I thought about hiring a personal scone trainer/scone coach to help me get closer to my goal, but unfortunately they don't exist. So I just went on a scone rampage. In the first 30 days of August I managed to visit 23 National Trust properties across Devon, the Midlands, and Northern Ireland, racking up a total of 19 scones. 

By August 30th I was fatter, covered in scone crumbs, and smelling faintly of jam when my phone pinged. I struggled out from under a pile of National Trust maps and guidebooks to find a text from my friend Sarah-Jane saying she was looking forward to seeing me for the weekend and that she was planning to drive us to the Lake District - but would I be able to manage three scones in one day?

WAS I ABLE TO EAT THREE SCONES IN ONE DAY? Did she know who I was?? Like Godzilla, I raised myself up from the depths of a scone-induced torpor and headed for Euston station.

And this is how, one rainy August Saturday morning, we found ourselves at Fell Foot, a shoreline park at the bottom of Lake Windermere in Cumbria.

The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway adding
a bit of Victorian glamour in the background
Fell Foot was once the site of a large lakeside villa. A man called Jeremiah Dixon from Leeds enlarged the original farmhouse after 1784, before selling up to a Francis Astley who in turn sold the place to Colonel George Ridehalgh in 1859. 

It was Colonel George who created the piers and the five Gothic-style boathouses that still survive today. To really see the boathouses, you can catch the Fell Foot Ferry from nearby Lakeside and approach from the water.


The Gothic boathouses -
a bit incongruous against the modern-day cruiser
The estate was then sold to an Oswald Hedley, who demolished the house and started work on a new neo-Jacobean mansion. But his wife died and he lost interest in Fell Foot. The property was given to the National Trust after he died.

Interestingly, the place was initially tenanted out to a man who ran it as a caravan park with holiday chalets. They're gone now but it's fascinating to think that the Lake Distrct has always balanced recreation facilities with the natural beauty of the area.


There used to be a large house on this site - it's not there now (obviously)
Let's move on to the scone. I'd never been to Fell Foot before but it still seemed strangely quiet as we made our way along the path. We soon worked out why; everyone was in the tea room. It was packed.

This was the first of our three scheduled scones and after a couple of bites SJ looked momentarily troubled; "I think we might have peaked early - this is a great scone." She was right - it was sublime; slightly warm, extremely fresh, and very, very tasty indeed.

Fell Foot Scone
The Fell Foot scone - one of the best
ever encountered on the National Trust Scone Odyssey
She then proved once and for all that she is an exceptional human being with the words "and I haven't even eaten the top half yet and everyone knows that's the best part of a scone." There have been several occasions during the making of this scone blog when friends and family have proven themselves beyond all measure - this was one of those moments. 
Scone aficionado at work
The only disappointment was that anyone let Oswald demolish the house, but it didn't really matter. Fell Foot is now all about the lake and the paddleboarding and other activities that you can do before you enjoy one of the best National Trust scones that you'll ever eat.

Fell Foot: 4 out of 5 - I had to deduct a point for the missing house
Scone: 5 out of 5 (I'd give it more if I could)
Fitting another three scones in to August when I thought I was done: 5 out of 5

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