Back from the Edge…

Ravens-Pit

The Kendal Mountain Festival has been a stalwart of the adventure calendar for many years. It takes place late in November, when dark and cloudy skies usually cover Britain. So it was quite a change to see ’KMF On The Edge’ launched for the middle of summer. The event took place in the beautiful surroundings of Langdale in the Lake District under (mainly) sunlit skies…

The festival wanted to showcase ‘How Technology Can Enhance Your Wilderness Experiences’.  This caused me quite a dilemma, as I’m not the biggest advocate of technology in the outdoors.  My recent TEDx Talk in Derby was titled ‘Is Modern technology Destroying Adventure..?’  I had impressions of being chased out of the festival as a heretic..!

The festival began with the ‘Ravens Pit’ – a fireside session about Lakeland climbing with Andy Kirkpatrick, Dave Birkett, James McHaffie and Adam Hockling.  This was the launch of a Mountain Heritage Trust and National Trust Live Heritage Initiative, and I was hoping to arrive in time for this intriguing evening, but the traffic from the Peak District to the Lake District wasn’t in my favour.  By the time my 1977 VW Camper and I had wound our way through the lanes of Langdale, it was 11:30 and the birds had flown…

Saturday dawned bright and my Electrical Engineering head got the better of me.  I joined the National Trust to look at the Stickle Ghyll Hydro-power Project, which will supply electricity into Langdale and also feed back into the grid.  The work entails digging a pipe high into the Ghyll and running the water into a turbine house behind the Hotel.  An access road has been built up the fells and construction is presently taking place, which is causing a scar on the landscape.  This will need careful work to restore, but in the long-term the project is advantageous to the local community, and follows in the footsteps of a previous scheme (remains of original turbine, built in 1943 still exist in a now derelict building).  As with all projects like this, some will embrace it and some will oppose it.  I was confronted by a couple of walkers irritated that a footpath had been closed, but diversion signs are displayed and the work is only temporary.  We have to understand that though the fells are a thing of beauty, people live in and work on them every day.

Generator-House

It was at KMF 2013 that I first met Ella Kirkpatrick.  Her dad Andy, was already well-known to me and they teamed up to present about their experiences. I’ve seen many speakers work together on stage, but I can’t remember a father and daughter climbing team..!  They work very well together and could almost get away as a ‘funny man and straight daughter’ comedy duo. Ell’s climb on El Cap and Andy’s Sport Relief climb with Alex Jones soon filled the hour..!

The history of Mountaineering is being well-managed by the Mountain Heritage Trust, and I caught up with Maxine Willett (who expanded my mountaineering library yet again) and photographer Henry Iddon. Henry spoke about the history of photography in Mountaineering, and has been involved in a project to use the original Abrahams Brothers camera out on the mountain. The results are stunning, and I’ve been inspired to drag one of my old Bellows Cameras out for my next climbing trip to Nepal.

I spoke twice on the Sunday about my mountaineering climbs, epics and adventures. I almost lost my prosthetic fingers at one point (they caused quite a stir), but otherwise all went smoothly. I also took a little time out for myself and tried to relax. Juggling a Mountaineering/Engineering /Life balance certainly isn’t easy. At times they work well together, but at others they are poles apart…

The event was compact, well run, and I hope a success. Only time will tell, but the weather was beautiful and the scenery stunning. I would have liked to have seen more people there, but from small seeds…

Me-Ella-&-Andy

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