On our first look into the Kendal Mountain Festival, we thought it would be more of interest to Damian, given that he wishes to pick back up his training for a mountain leadership qualification, but wow we were wrong. I (Joanne) loved it!

It was so good to see Kendal bustling with woolly hats, rucksacks and water bottles and there was a really positive vibe about the streets on all three of the days we were able to get in to the festival. If like me, you are already thinking, well I’m no climber, so this won’t be of interest to me, then you could be surprised to know the festival contained everything from kayaking and biking, to films, literature, art and photography. The sessions on the environment and sustainability of the planet were hugely inspiring and with the festival being set in a location such as the Lake District, this was a really heartfelt subject for so many people attending. There were activities for families and children, competitions, a 10k trail run and even a Sunday morning outdoor swimming session. The speakers ranged from the forces of nature that take on the submits of the world, such as Sir Chris Bonington and Adam Ondra to Mark Beaumont, who cycled the world in 80 days.

Joanne’s favourite entry in the photography competition


Damian and I couldn’t get to see all of the festival, however we wanted to share a few highlights, because we are going to be massively recommending a visit next year, so here they are:

We got to attend our first ever European film premiere of Bonington : Moutaineer and be captivated with the legend that is Sir Chris Bonington in his Q&A talks with the filmmaker Keith Partridge. The film is pretty moving to be honest and wow what a life he has lived. To see him still climbing in the film at the age of 80 is incredible.

With St Marks Stays being all about collaborations in a way, the presentation from artist Tom Musgrove and photographer Simon Bray about their collaboration depicting seven landscape locations from across the British Isles was wonderful to listen to. Their video about the project, The Edges of These Isles, is really worth a watch, even if you only wish to see the stunning landscapes and locations we have here in the UK.
Saturday and Sunday were the days that reminded us about the values we learned along the way when volunteering with Raleigh International. The fact that just one person can start to make a difference and to share that passion can have a life changing effect.

The Patagonia Adventure Activists speakers really made us think about sustainability. Rick Ridgeway from the Patagonia clothing company showed us how ethical a company can be and the way they give back to protect the environment is powerful.

Their mission
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

They even had a stand at the festival basecamp where they actively encouraged you to get your jackets repaired rather than buying new. It didn’t even need to be a Patagonia coat.

We have to admit, we had never heard of Rok Rozman, before the event, even though he was an olympic rower, but boy was he entertaining. For us he massively threw open the debate on the use of hydroelectric power as a green energy and the trailer for The Undamaged is worth a watch.

Combine this talk with the thoughts from environmental photographer Ashley Cooper and his stunning imagery and suddenly we found ourselves chatting away in a busy Kendal cafe about the pro and cons of our energy use in the world. You will know of at least one of Ashley’s iconic images of the polar bears in the Arctic. He has been documenting the impacts of climate change and the rise of renewable energy for over 13 years and despite the shocking results of our effect on the planet, Ashley did talk about hope and changes that every person in the room could make to start making a difference. I did buy his book, so if anyone coming to stay with us wants to view his breathtaking collection of images, then it is here to be shared.

The talks and debates were the surprising result of the Kendal Mountain Festival for both of us. So much more than we had expected and combined with the atmosphere of chatter over drinks and legends of the outdoor world milling around the tents of basecamp, it was pretty awesome.

Of course we are going to recommend taking a look at Kendal Mountain Festival for next year and the dates of 15 – 18 November 2018 have already been announced. To add to this, we would be silly not to mention that we currently have availability here at St Marks Stays for those dates, so why not get a group together and make a weekend of it.

If you’re still wondering what the Kendal Mountain festival it is about, do watch the official trailer,  A Spark in the Dark, as it is so very cool and if this doesn’t inspire you to get outdoors, then we do have real fires here for you, as you send the rest of your group out to be excitable at next year’s festival.

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