Lake District watermill appeals for volunteers

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Volunteers are urgently needed to help keep the Lake District's last working watermill open.

Eskdale Mill, a Grade II listed building, will not be able to open this year without help from the public.

An open event is being held next month to attract potential helpers as the mill's trust bids to keep it running.

The meet and greet is planned for Wednesday, April 12 between 4pm and 6pm at Eskdale Mill, at Boot.

The Eskdale Mill and Heritage Trust chairman Paul Pharaoh said: "We welcome about 3,000 visitors a year to the mill, and, with the retirement of the miller in 2016, we rely entirely on volunteers to keep the doors open at this most important part of Cumbria’s heritage."

Prospective volunteers will be given a short introduction to the trust and learn the background to the mill before being taken on a guided tour.

The roles available to new volunteers would vary from working in the garden and being mill guides, working as historians or researchers, to leading tours around the working mill and explaining how the machinery works.

There is even the opportunity to be a miller, harnessing the power of the Whillan Beck to produce stone-ground oatmeal. No experience is necessary, the miller just needs to be reasonably fit as it involves some manual work and climbing of steep ladders.

Visitors will also be able to question existing volunteers to find out what roles are available and what they involve.

They can also discover the benefits of volunteering, and the possibilities it opens up to the public.

In the immediate future, helpers are needed to cover the mill's opening times.

These are at weekends between 11am and 4.30pm, starting from Easter until September.

The mill also opens on Bank Holidays, special events and occasional other weekdays for special group tours, including schoolchildren.

Volunteer development officer Karl Bartlett will be leading the open day and sharing the mill's stories. He said: "Without volunteers our mill can't open this year".

For more information on the day or about getting involved, contact Mr Bartlett via email at themillatboot@gmail.com

*While Eskdale Mill is the last remaining working watermill in the Lake District, Cumbria boasts other examples of this traditional heritage.

There is the Little Salkeld Mill, near Penrith, Brampton Watermill, near Appleby and Acorn Bank Watermill, in Temple Sowerby.

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