The Kendal Mountain Festival. A weekend of excitement, friendship and endless stories of adventure. This love for the outdoors brought thousands of avid explorers and mountaineers to the Cumbrian town of Kendal from 15 to 18 November. As a first-timer, it really did exceed my expectations by miles, says Beth Heddle who’s all-time favourite mountain to climb is Tryfan in Snowdonia.
It was jam-packed. A film festival, a literature festival, informal Q&As from famous explorers and ‘Basecamp’ nestled among quirky coffee shops and bars for explorers to unite and bond, but most of all it was full of inspiration and motivation.
Here are five things that everyone can take away from the Kendal Mountain Festival:
1. You don’t need kayak to New Zealand or break a world record to have a great time outdoors (you can, but don’t have to).
On Saturday night, I attended the Berghaus ‘Women in Adventure’ talk. This event saw three women; Anna Blackwell, Sian Lewis and Berghaus athlete Molly Thompson-Smith, alongside the local group: Wonderful Wild Women, give inspiring talks, share incredible stories of their past adventures and recite excitingly terrifying trips.
For the average person that loves the outdoors but has a full-time office job, Sian’s talk made it feel like ‘yes, we can have adventures, too’. It doesn’t have to involve a huge off-piste experience. Instead, Sian encouraged us to: “focus on being a champion on ‘little-big’ adventures” and said: “there’s too much pressure to ‘be the best’ but if you enjoy it, do it.” In today’s world, this is so important. Not everyone at the Kendal Mountain Festival, including myself, is a climbing or mountaineering pro and these smaller adventures have the ability form a big and positive part of our lives.
Whether you heard a talk from an explorer who had accomplished a world-first, saw one of the many films, or simply walked around Basecamp with a coffee in your hand and talked to other festival-goers, you’ll have left Kendal inspired. Everyone had their own story to tell, even me.
Leo Houlding’s film, ‘Spectre: To the End of the Earth’ really opened up my eyes to what one can achieve if they set their minds to it. Leo made the expedition look so much easier than it must have been. Being in -40°C temperatures, in a place unreachable by plane… You can watch the trailer to get a flavour of his incredible adventure.
The inspiration one could get from this festival was not just outdoor- or adventure-type inspiration. It could have pushed you to set goals, try something new and to start living life to the max.
Everyone at the festival had a smile on their face, even if their eyes were tired from long nights socialising with one another. People were excited to be there, there was the chance to meet their heroes, everyone was doing a lot of laughing – the smiles were contagious. A smile was planted on my face the moment I arrived, and it still hasn’t left.
4. A Christmas List
Housed in Basecamp were more than 50 of the best global outdoor brands, teams and associations. It was great to be able to try on all you need for your next adventure: think jackets, tops, ski sunglasses and rucksacks. Berghaus was showcasing the Reflect range of jackets, as well as giving visitors the opportunity to try on Leo Houlding’s jacket which had been obsessively (and exclusively!) designed to keep Leo protected from the -40-degree temperatures on his recent Transantarctic expedition. If you didn’t come away with a Christmas list, you’ve got too much kit.
5. Plans for another trip to Kendal
Stunning views of the southern Lake District are within reach of Kendal and quaint little coffee shops are ready to give you a well-deserved bite to eat with a friend. Edgy bars and pubs let you laugh the evenings away and beautiful surroundings for a full 360° will bring you back.