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The Kendal Mountain Festival 2022 – Good to be Back…

With Jessie Leong – Film Maker and Winner of then Peoples Choice Award

I’m a planner – I like to plan and prepare for my expeditions, speaking gigs and even my shopping.  The 2022 Kendal Mountain Festival was on its way, so I watched my films, prepared my weekend diary and trying my best to help the environment, I booked trains from Derbyshire to the Lakes.

Late on the night before I departed, my trains were cancelled due to staff sickness and training.  Fair enough, sickness happens, but you can reschedule training.  I’ve worked in the Electricity Industry for over 35 years and if we suddenly announced that we were cutting everyone’s lights off because of sickness or training , there would be uproar.  My thanks to TransPennine Express for letting many people down and a HUGE thank you to my fellow presenter Miriam for helping out with a lift to the Festival.

A deluge of rain followed us all the way to the Lakes (it is the Lake District after all), but it abated as we entered Kendal and I breathed a sigh of relief.  The opening ceremony at 5pm was an outside event and no-one needed drowning..!

The town was dressed with its festival bunting and the energy began to rise.  We gathered at Base Camp and I officially opened the Kendal Mountain Festival 2022, alongside Festival Directors, Clive Allen, Steve Scott and Climber Leo Houlding.  The crowd were excited and paraded the main street en masse, but I couldn’t join them – I had films to open.

I take my speaking very seriously – after all, I do it for my living.  I had an evening film session in the BAC Digital Lounge and had to crack on.  This was a very intimate venue with plush velour sofas and only seated 14 people – it was sold out.  So was the way for many venues over the whole weekend.  There is great talk of the Cost of Living Crisis, but there seemed to be no shortage of people willing to watch films, speakers and join events all weekend.

Friday was always going to be a busy day.  I opened four sessions of films, working from 09:30 until 22:45, but I did manage to catch up with some great friends.  The festival may be built upon films, speakers and events, but it’s the people who matter to me.  Joy and Hazel Moran from the Martin Moran Foundation, Chris and Anna from Glacier Books, John from our Greenland Climbing Trip, Mark, Pete and Rehan from the Hollowford Centre, Linda from Community action Nepal, Tash from Grangers, and all the festival staff.

COVID may have forced us apart and it’s certainly still here, but we as a species are gregarious and need interaction with others.  It is a part of my life where I struggle.  I can be surrounded by a huge crowd, yet feel very alone.  At times during the festival I craved peace and a sit down, but also company.  It’s been a balancing act all of my life. A great friend and stalwart of the presenting team for many years dropped me a line and sent his best as he left for Antarctica.  His words brought a tear to my eye.  Safe travels and Slainté my friend…

I opened eight film sessions over the weekend, ranging from mountaineering to bikes, nature to environment and the full length films: ‘An Accidental Life’ (Winner of the Judges Special Award) and ‘Alpine Trilogy (Doggystyle)’.  The Best of Kendal ended my weekend late on the Sunday evening and the dust slowly began to settle.  My feet and knees were suffering, my eyes glazed and my liver fractured, but I was happy and relaxed.

Once again, TransPennine Express cancelled my service, and the Trainline app offered a refund of £0.00.  At KMF we speak about sustainability, Climate Change and taking responsibility.

If only the railways would listen…

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