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Why two jobs are a dream for Boatmaster Jon!

Written by on 30/01/2024

Most people consider themselves lucky to find one dream job – but Jon Bennett is in the enviable position of having two at once!

He spends much of his working week sailing some of the most spectacular scenery in England – as a Boatmaster with Windermere Lake Cruises. And when he’s not doing that he’s scaling one of the country’s highest peaks as a Fell Top Assessor with the Lake District National Park Authority.

“It’s a dream really,” explains Jon from Ambleside in Cumbria; “I love the Lake District and with these two jobs I’m either on a boat looking up at the Lakeland fells or on the fells looking down at the lakes!

He joined Windermere Lake Cruises back in 2008 after deciding to leave his job as manager of a leading hotel in the Lake District. “It just sounded a lovely way to earn a living – surrounded by the lovely scenery of England’s longest natural lake,” says Jon who’s 61.

“I always spent, and still spend, my days off out in the fells. So, to keep safe, I always used the Fell Top Assessor’s Weatherline service which runs between December 1 and Easter Monday and gives the underfoot conditions. When the opportunity then also came up to work as a Fell Top Assessor, I jumped at it! It was a great chance to give something back to the area that I love,” says Jon.

With Windermere Lake Cruises, Jon is Boatmaster on the modern launch vessels. “I love it and would recommend the job to anyone. It’s great working with the public, showing and telling them all about Windermere. We get such lovely feedback from passengers which makes it very rewarding.”

He’s now also in his 16th season of Fell Top Assessing.

That means, between December and March, he is one of three who share the job of every day climbing Helvellyn to check conditions. They take photos and supply a report to add to the Met Office weather forecast and help keep people safe on the Lake District fells.

“It’s an incredible role to have but you need the memory of a goldfish! That way you forget the days when there’s horizontal, biting hail and you just remember the glorious blue sky days!”

He adds: “It can be quite solitary but we wear distinctive jackets and people recognise who we are. They are always coming over, shaking my hand, and saying thanks for the service we provide.”

Despite his obvious love for his two dream jobs he’s made the difficult decision that this winter will be his final Fell Top Assessing season.

“Obviously, I will really miss it but to the best of my knowledge I’m already the longest serving Fell Top Assessor, having now successfully summited Helvellyn over 750 times for the National Park, and the mountain seems to be getting that little bit steeper!”

He’ll stay on as a Boatmaster with Windermere Lake Cruises so won’t be giving up two dream jobs at once!

And now is the perfect opportunity for others to join Jon working for Windermere Lake Cruises, the most popular paid for attraction in the Lake District.

A hundred jobs are up for grabs at a special Recruitment Day event at Bowness Pier onboard the vessel MV Swift on Saturday, February 3 from 10am to 4pm.

Windermere Lake Cruises is looking for people to work on its cruise vessels, self-drive boats, cafes, shops and ticket offices throughout this year’s peak holiday season and beyond.

“Roles are open to people of all ages,” says Ian Wilkinson, HR manager at Windermere Lake Cruises. “But we often find the flexible nature of our job opportunities are a perfect fit for the over 50s or those who have just taken retirement but still want to do stimulating work. There are no split shifts and you can work one day a week or five days a week – it’s up to you. Just come down to the recruitment day and we will tell you all about the opportunities.”

As for Boatmaster Jon, although he’s giving up his Fell Top Assessor role, he will still regularly head for the hills.

“I met a man climbing Scafell Pike on his 80th Birthday and thought what an incredible way to mark such a milestone! It stuck in my head and now that is my plan too!”