Cumbria lost a man who left a legacy of tranquillity on Ullswater and made a major impact on conservation in the Lake District with the death of Robin Barratt, of Tirril, aged 87.
Originally from Scarborough and a graduate of Loughborough University, Robin was a teacher of PE and English at Keswick School in the late 1950s.
A competitive sportsman as well as a man of letters, he at one time played rugby as flanker for the first team at Leicester Tigers, and launched the Keswick sevens rugby tournament, which is still played today.
He briefly left the Lake District for the mining town of Barnsley, but returned in 1964 to open and manage the outdoor activity centre at Howtown, where he taught sailing among the water-skiers on Ullswater.
It was there, in the 1960s and 70s, that he became an ardent conservationist and campaigner to protect the Lake District, with his greatest legacy being the influential role he played during the public inquiry which established a 10mph speed limit on Ullswater.
In 1979 he became director of the Scottish sports centres, including Cumbrae Sailing Centre and Glenmore Lodge Mountaineering Centre.
However, he always retained a base in the Lakes and on his retirement campaigned, against the might of the English Sports Council, to get a 10mph speed limit placed on Windermere to effectively banish water-skiing from the Lake District altogether.
He went on to broaden his environmental interests, becoming chairman of Friends of the Lake District and serving on the Lake District National Park Authority’s planning board.
Even towards the end of his life, he retained his passion for the natural world and remarked on the contrast between the peace and quiet at the start of the coronavirus lockdown and the turmoil caused by the later influx of visitors to the Lake District.
He said: “This was a once in a lifetime blissful glimpse into the past and a stark warning of what the future holds, as populations continue to rise and self-interest wins over disintegrating planning laws and conservation.”
His vision for the future included a national park congestion charge; a ban on all non-electric motorbikes, non-electric power boats and off-road vehicle enthusiasts; greater education about the environment; and severe penalties for littering.
It was during his time at the Howtown centre that Robin learned to sail at Ullswater Yacht Club, of which he remained an active member until the end of his life.
He was an extremely keen competitor and raced a range of boats — dinghies, keelboats and cruisers — throughout his life, and last year was still competing seriously in club cruiser racing in his Etap 21i. He served as club president for 11 years until his death.
The club flag flew at half mast to mark Robin’s death, and current commodore Paul O’Hara said: “Robin will be greatly missed both for his love of sailing, in particular racing, and his love of Ullswater and its natural beauty.
“He was always willing to share his experiences with new and longstanding members of the club. He was committed and passionate about his role as president. He will be missed by us all.”
Robin is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ann; son Martin, son Nick and daughter-in-law Julie, Cardiff; and their sons Luke and Sam.
A memorial service will be held near Ullswater to celebrate his life and achievements when circumstances allow. Walkers Funeral Directors, Penrith, have charge of arrangements.