Wimbleball Fly Fishery launches new wheelchair-accessible boat for disabled anglers

posted in: Fishery update | 0

The Coulam 16 Wheelyboat, a purpose-built angling boat, will join the growing fleet at Wimbleball Fly Fishery

On Sunday 1st March 2020, the opening day of the new fishing season at Wimbleball Lake in the Exmoor National Park, Somerset, a new Coulam 16 Wheelyboat – specially designed for angling – will be launched, thanks to a joint venture by The Wheelyboat Trust, The Angling Trust and Wimbleball Fly Fishery.


The new Coulam 16 Wheelyboat will enable disabled anglers, and wheelchair users in particular, to access the clear waters of Wimbleball Lake, allowing users to fish independently for top quality rainbow and wild brown trout, courtesy of renowned Rainbow Valley Trout Farm near Bampton. The new boat is the result of a partnership between national charities The Wheelyboat Trust and Angling Trust that provided seven part-funded Coulam 16 Wheelyboats. The funds for the project were generously provided by The Peter Harrison Foundation and Lord Barnby’s Charitable Trust.


Fisheries across the UK were invited to apply for the seven Wheelyboats, and Wimbleball Fly Fishery is the first to be launched.  A crowd of bank anglers, boat anglers and VIP guests from South West Lakes Trust, the Environment Agency, South West Fishing for Life and The Wheelyboat Trust will gather on the pontoon to see the new Coulam 16 Wheelyboat set off for her first fish of the season. Trudi Underhill will launch the new boat with a bottle of bubbly and Gillian Payne from South West Fishing for Life will cut a ceremonial ribbon. Guests will hear speeches from Mark Underhill, who owns Rainbow Valley Trout Farm and leases the fishing at Wimbleball, and Andy Beadsley, Director of The Wheelyboat Trust. Andy Beadsley and Patrick Veale will be the first disabled anglers to take to the water.


A Coulam 16 Wheelyboat.

The Coulam Wheelyboat in action at Llyn Brenig
The Coulam Wheelyboat in action at Llyn Brenig

All aboard!

Showing the access platform of a Coulam Wheely boat in use during the launch at Llyn Brenig.
Showing the access platform in use during the launch at Llyn Brenig.

Mark Underhill, Proprietor of Wimbleball Fly Fishery, says: “With our new Wheelyboat, disabled anglers will be able to fish across the 374-acre Wimbleball Lake, exploring the many bays and inlets, all stocked with some of the best trout in the country. Our new Wheelyboat will join the existing Mk II Wheelyboat, which was launched in 2005, as well as eight other Coulam-built boats already on the lake, with a further two arriving early in the season. It’s fantastic that our growing fleet of Wheelyboats will be able to accommodate more disabled anglers, allowing more people to indulge in their passion for fishing or indeed take up the sport for the first time.”

Andy Beadsley, Director of The Wheelyboat Trust, says: “As a disabled angler myself, I know first-hand the enjoyment that comes from casting a line and whiling away a few hours on the water doing something you love. We’re delighted that another Wheelyboat will be calling Wimbleball Lake home and hope that many disabled anglers and hopefully those new to the sport too, will come and experience for themselves the joy of angling independently.”

Ben Smeeth, Head of Angling at the South West Lakes Trust, adds: “The provision of a new Wheelyboat for fishing at Wimbleball Lake fits perfectly with our aims at South West Lakes Trust to enable as many people as possible, of all abilities and ages, to enjoy themselves at our lakes. Being outdoors and active and in particular taking part in fishing can have great benefits to peoples’ health and I fully support this great addition to Wimbleball Fishery.”


Coulam 16 Wheelyboats are widely used on fisheries large and small across the country, along with more than 1,000 standard Coulam 15s and 16s that the Wheelyboat model is based on. Access on and off is via a ramp from a pontoon onto a hydraulic platform built into the boat, that lowers the angler from gunwale height to floor level with ease. Once on board, the angler can sit at the bow or the stern and is able to operate the boat entirely independently. The Coulam 16 Wheelyboat can accommodate up to three people, uses an outboard motor up to 10hp and is designed primarily for angling on stillwaters, on the drift or at anchor.  The smaller Coulam 15 Wheelyboat is designed for angling on rivers, e.g. the River Tweed, where a boatman rows and the angler fishes from the stern.


The Wheelyboat Trust currently supplies four models of Wheelyboat that provide disabled people with independent access to a wide range of activities on inland and inshore waters including angling, nature watching, pleasure boating and powerboating. All Wheelyboats are hand built and fitted out to order by Jim Coulam of boatbuilders Coulam Ltdhaving been designed by naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme.


As a charity The Wheelyboat Trust relies on donations from individuals and organisations and their work could not continue without the ongoing generosity they provide. To donate and help The Wheelyboat Trust get more disabled people out on the water, please visit: www.wheelyboats.org/current-projects.

To find out more about The Wheelyboat Trust, visit www.wheelyboats.org.

About The Wheelyboat Trust

  • The Wheelyboat Trust is a registered charity, dedicated to providing mobility impaired people, young and old, with the opportunity and freedom to participate in waterborne activities all over the UK. Its role is to help and encourage venues open to the public to acquire Wheelyboats for their disabled visitors and to help groups and organisations acquire Wheelyboats for their own use.
  • The Wheelyboat Trust was founded in 1984 when it was originally called the Handicapped Anglers Trust. The first Wheelyboat built received its official launch from HRH Prince Charles at Fishmongers’ Hall in London. In 2004, the charity was renamed The Wheelyboat Trust to reflect its broader aims and the clear need for Wheelyboats beyond the fishing lake for disabled, elderly and infirm, families and community groups for recreation and sporting pursuits.
  • The Trust has designed 8 different Wheelyboat models since its work began in 1984: Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV, Coulam 15, Coulam 16, Coulam Wheelyboat V20 and their latest model Coulam Wheelyboat V17.
  • To date, the Trust has built and supplied over 200 Wheelyboats across UK and Europe.
  • For more information, visit wheelyboats.org


About the Angling Trust

  • The Angling Trust is the representative body for game, coarse and sea anglers in England and Wales. Its members support the campaigns and legal action they carry out to protect fish and fishing, and its participation programmes to increase the number of anglers fishing for fun and in competitions.
  • The Angling Trust is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal, a separate membership association that uses the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK.
  • Membership packages of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries, riparian owners, trade and other categories.
  • For more information about the Angling Trust visit: joinanglingtrust.net


About Wimbleball Fly Fishery

  • A stunning lake set within the rolling hills of the Exmoor national park covering over 370 acres, a haven for wildlife & perfect for the Fly angler, Wimbleball is open to the public & offers many other outdoor activities.
  • Offers quality fly fishing for Stocked Rainbow & Wild Brown Trout from boat & bank, the shape & size of Wimbleball ensures fantastic sport can be had from a diverse range of bays, inlets & beaches whatever the weather.
  • The Rainbow Trout are stocked from their very own Rainbow Valley Trout farm where they pride themselves in producing only the best quality, fully finned & hard fighting fish.
  • Many anglers travel great distances to pit their wits against the revered wild brown trout of Wimbleball, if you succeed the fight will be as spectacular as their looks.


About Coulam Ltd

  • Established for 25 years, they are one of the largest small boat builders in the UK having designed and built over 1,000 commercial boats.
  • Specialising in small day hire boats, they have expanded with help from The Wheelyboat Trust into larger commercial craft.
  • All boats are individually built in GRP to customer’s own specification.
  • Their own engineering and stainless steel fabrication shop allows them to custom make fittings and components and almost everything else.
  • They supply custom built trailers for all types of applications and are a leading floating pontoon manufacturer.


The Wheelyboat Trust relies on donations from individuals and organisations to fund its important work.

Please click here to help us provide more Wheelyboats on waters throughout the UK. Thank you.

Leave a Reply