Kendal Mountain Festival 2024
I was so excited to go to Kendal Mountain Festival. Billed as the ultimate social gathering for all those who love the outdoors – Kendal Mountain Festival takes place at the gateway to The Lake District National Park each November. A lot of my adventure friends went last year and the photos looked amazing. I was looking forward to seeing several fellow Adventure Queens there and other online friends I haven't met in person yet.
It turned out to be an absolute dream! Spent lots of time with fellow Adventure Queens and Bluetits and made lots of friends. If you love being active outdoors I’d highly recommend this festival. I am grinning from ear to ear and I have so many new adventure ideas. Thanks to all the amazing people I spent time with.
This amazing Festival took over the whole town - I’ve never seen so many down jackets and bobble hats in every restaurant and cafe! At KMF you pay to go to whichever sessions you want to, but you can still go along and take part in things for free. Basecamp in Abbot Hall Park is free to enter and hosts a huge variety of free talks as well as all the brand partner stalls.
The massive programme of events covers speaker events, world premieres, feature films and short film collections, huge Basecamp Festival Village, Book Festival, Arts events, live music and parties, Secret Sessions, 10K Trail Run, family friendly events, environmental films and talks, Yoga and free events.
The Festival is the perfect place to get active with both ticketed and free events for all ages and abilities. Sessions on offer were the adidas TERREX 10km run + guided runs and walks, yoga sessions, Craghoppers Forest Activities, a community litter pick on the River Kent and the Komoot Community hike, rides and family walk.
I took part in the Komoot/Adventure Queens Hike on the Saturday, which took in Cunswick Scar and Scout Scar. I’m told the views from Scout Scar are amazing ha ha but that didn’t matter that we didn’t see them due to the mist. We just wandered up into the hills for a few hours of meaningful (and silly!) chat, bonding and shared life experiences.
The thing that made my trip has been spending time with the beautiful Adventure Queens and talking to people who have very different lives to mine but we are all bonded by that love of adventure and passion for being outdoors. I’ve met so many online friends in real life and I will cherish those friendships
I also swam in Lake Windermere a couple of times with my Adventure Queens friends and lots of strangers.
We were fortunate to meet Yvette Tetteh. Ghanaian-British agribusiness entrepreneur and athlete Yvette is the first person to swim across the Volta River, completing the longest documented swim in Ghanaian history. Covering 450km, Yvette conducted research and raised awareness for textile pollution alongside her support boat, The Woman Who Does Not Fear.
We also had the privilege of meeting and swimming with Blue Mind Men, a peer-supported men’s’ swim club promoting better mental health through cold water swimming.
Founded in January 2022, the club meets every Sunday morning at Windermere, the Lake District for dips, chats and cake. It is an inclusive club for men of all ages and swimming abilities – all are welcome! It was founded by cold water swim coach Gilly McArthur.
A lot of the reason I was excited to go to the Festival was to listen to some of the amazing speakers. I listened to so many inspirational speakers such as Christian Lewis, Cal Major, Andrew Cotton, Sebastian Berthe and many more adventurers - and met lots of them too.
I firstly booked to watch Christian Lewis on Friday 17 November. This was held in the Brewery Arts Centre in the Malt Room. On 1 August 2017, former paratrooper Christian Lewis set off from Swansea to walk the entire coastline of the UK. Fresh from completing his incredible six-year walk, Christian Lewis appeared on stage to share his beautiful true story of survival, of how he walked 19,000 miles along the coast of Britain – his dog Jet in tow – and found a different way to live.
Christian’s search for self-discovery, and to raise awareness and funds for the veterans charity SSAFA, became a journey beyond his or anyone’s expectations. From raising over a quarter of a million pounds to finding love with fellow adventurer, Kate, he had no idea that when he started this once-in-a-life-time experience he would be crossing the finish line (some five-and-a-half years later) with a fiancee, a baby and renewed sense of purpose. His story is one of survival and hope, but it’s also proof that anything is possible.
He was so inspiring, his talk was sold out and he had a huge trail of people buying his book. I was very fortunate to say hellp to him afterwards and have a little pet of Jet!
Montane Secret Session
I also booked a Montane Secret Session on Saturday 18 November in the afternoon. This was a real highlight of the weekend. I paid £9 and you don’t know what you are going to be doing but it involves a secret location and a speaker. We met up as a small group and were taken to a barber shop, upstairs to a bar called the Blind Bus Driver! We were given gin (!) and had an hour talk from pro big wave surfer Andrew Cotton who has surfed 70 foot waves! It was amazing and inspirational.
Patagonia Human Powered Adventure Session
On the same day, Patagonia shared human-powered stories to inspire from across their impact network. Speakers included:
Séb Berthe loves climbing in all its forms: from the scary big wall trad-climbing to projecting. Lover of adventures, fries or even a good dancefloor, he is convinced that style is more important than performance. Séb favours approaching crags by bike or boat and always wears his glittery leggings to embellish a route. He was a funnny and impressive speaker.
Fredi is another Adventure Queens Grant Winner - the extraordinary 54-year-old South Asian dynamo. She's not your usual hiker. A football coach, gas engineer, and plumber, she's got limited hiking experience. Yet, in 2021, she set her sights on conquering the epic 268-mile Pennine Way for her upcoming 55th birthday. Fredi shared 24 exhilarating days on this historic trail.
Frit is a transgender filmmaker and a visual storyteller focussing on sharing the stories of underrepresented groups in the outdoors. Womxn, LGBTQ+, certain age groups, all ethnicities and those with disabilities - athletes in these groups are often overlooked. His mission is to give them their fair share of the adventure media spotlight. His talk was inspiring too.
Cal is a vet, ocean advocate, and world-record adventurer, dedicated to exploring our ocean and its wildlife and using film as forms of activism. Her most recent adventure was paddleboarding around Scotland's wild coastline to gain a deeper understanding of the plight of the ecosystems which are so often out of sight, and the grassroots movements demanding better protection of our seas. Cal shared stories of her ocean adventures, the unexpected wildlife and people she has met along the way and how our future depends on our ability to connect to nature. It was lovely to get to chat to her afterwards too.
Head Outside Awards
An amazing part of the weekend was the fact that the Adventure Queens won the Change Maker Award in the Head Outside Awards! I was honoured to collect it on their behalf with Nicola and speak about my Grant adventure and what th group does.
The Head Outside Awards were created to recognise the efforts that have been made to support people on their mental journey, who make the outdoors more accessible to people with mental health challenges, or simply inspire people to live their lives more adventurously and reap the mental health benefits.
Celebrating those making waves in how we support improve mental health through transformative activities, projects, and policies; the Change Maker Award showcases organisations that have created meaningful change.
The winner was unveiled at the Macs explore Stage in Basecamp. The Adventure Queens were so pleased to be honoured in this way.
Congratulations to all the finalists and winners. So good to recognise the fantastic contributions of all of those involved and the work they do in supporting mental health and reducing the stigma.
Bring on Kendal Mountain Festival next year!