We linked two days walking/scrambling with visiting the Kendal Mountain Festival for the first time. Kendal has the largest and most diverse lecture and live event programme of any mountain festival worldwide. It is a busy time in the town and you need to book your accommodation well in advance. We stayed in the lovely village of Staveley where you will find a few B&Bs, the Eagle and Child pub which has excellent beer and food and also Hawkshead Brewery with all its lovely beers.
On Thursday 17th November it was an early start from Chester and we commenced the Kentmere Horseshoe (one of the classic horseshoe walks of the Lake District) at 9.15am on a day with dense low cloud and this only clearing on lower ground around 2.30pm. We made good use of our map and compass to check that we were on the right route. At 12.45pm we safely reached High Street at 828 metres, which we also wished to take in – its summit being the highest point in the far eastern part of the National Park. The fell is named after the Roman Road which ran over the summit. We did ten summits before returning to our car at 4.30pm.
On Friday we started our walk from Rydal at 9am on a wet and windy cold morning, alas again with dense cloud. Not a day for scenery and perhaps just as well as the climb out of Rydal to Nab Scar is very steep. At 11.50am we reached Fairfield 873 metres our highest point for the two days and it was ever so wild. Getting our bearings correct we headed for Hart Crag 822 metres. Here in the dense cloud we some how or other came off the main Fairfield Round path and when the cloud cleared on the lower fells we found ourselves heading for Patterdale on a demanding and difficult route and arrived there at 3pm. We were able to get a local taxi to take us back to our car. The good thing was that we dealt with the situation in an organised way and we were able to do six mountains. Tonight it was Kendal Town Hall for 7pm as it was the Premiere of the film “Moonflower”; with Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey climbing and filming their ascent of the Moonflower Buttress on Alaska’s Mt. Hunter.
The Hall was packed and there was an “air” of excitement and anticipation as ace filmmaker Alastair Lee came on stage and gave an overview of the film and its making. The film itself I found totally inspiring with magic photography and sound effects and new technologies used to capture the amazing images of this most demanding climb. I was on the mountain every step of the way with the climbers. An interesting question and answer session was held after and I had the opportunity to meet with the climbers and the film crew. I have bought a DVD of the film and I have watched it on a couple of occasions since the event.
On Saturday !9th I had two events to attend. The first was by Nazir Sabir at 11am at The Box with the title – “Pilgrimage to the Higher Heavens.” Nazir is a renowned Pakistani mountaineer who over a climbing career that spans four decades has climbed four of the five 8,000m peaks in Pakistan, including K2 via a new route. In 2000 he stood on the top of Everest, the first Pakistani to scale the roof of the world. He described his up bringing and showed slides of the beauty of the valleys and mountains in Hunza where he was born. He was so humble and appreciative of the packed audience that listened to him. It was a great pleasure to say hello and shake his hand.
In the evening at the Brewery Theatre at 6pm Cameron McNeish and Richard Else were delivering a talk and unseen footage about a new long distance trail from the Scottish Borders to Cape Wrath in the North West corner of Scotland. I have walked on parts of this new national trail and I found the presentation very interesting and something I might try to undertake myself at a future date.
Kendal is a lovely town and I was totally impressed with the range of facilities available to facilitate such an enjoyable and diverse Mountain Festival over three and a half days. I very much enjoyed myself as did everyone I met. It is an annual event for like minded people to come together, have a great time and enjoy the wonder of wild places that the Festival shows you. To me an inspiration to do more in the years ahead.
20th November 2011