As a result of being a patreon of Tough Girl Challenges (https://www.toughgirlchallenges.com/ ), a podcast that highlights female sporting enthusiasts from a multitude of backgrounds and abilities, I was seriously chuffed to be offered complimentary tickets to Keswick Mountain Festival ( https://www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk/ ). As soon as I had a wee look at what this was, I knew I’d be going, whether that was on my own or with a friend.
That quick peek revealed to me, a kids playground of activities and possibilities. Having had a bit of a setback to my training for the West Highland Way Race, I suddenly had the opportunity to get a confidence builder in the tank before the race at the end of June. Little did I know I would have yet another setback that would restrict my activities further.
Having reached the stage of my late thirties, I am not sure how I have never made it to the Lake District, considering it is the ideal place for me to visit. Mind you, you would have to rule out two awful visits up Scafell Pike (2 x 3 peak challenges = nuff said!).
Let the Games Commence
Here’s what I learnt . . . .
Top Tip No. 1: Scope out all the activities on the website, plan to your hearts content.
I didn’t do this so well, I was distracted by the disappointment of injuries and being ruled out of running. Thankfully, Karen, my best mate is waaay more prepared and a better organiser compared to myself, at least one of us had some inkling of what was happening.
There was a wealth of activities for everyone to choose from to fully appreciate where you were. I quickly realised, that despite being ruled out of running, there was still so much I could do and wanted to do. To me, it’s the being outdoors, being around likeminded people, appreciating the scenery.
Some examples were canoeing, kayaking, or a mini 3 peaks walking challenge, running events from 5km to ultra distance, a cycling sportive and triathlon. Now I haven’t even mentioned the taster sessions or led sessions! So let’s see, we have outdoor rock climbing, try your first outdoor swim (for those that know me, I was tempted by this BUT, you needed to swim a certain distance), nordic walking, ghyll scrambling to name a few.
If you wanted to do the actual events, there was a deadline on getting in there and naturally the number of people meant things could potentially sell out.
Top Tip No. 2: Go from Thursday to Sunday. . . . . . . . if you can wangle it
Having experienced the whole festival for the first time this year, I would definitely take the time out to take in the whole weekends experience. There just wasn’t enough time to fit everything in, and that was with an injury ruling me out of my first choice activities.
However, that is also a great way to entice you back, cheeeeky 😉 but I love it!
Top Tip No. 3: To camp or not to camp?
I didn’t start camping until laterally, mainly all Karen’s fault. She really enjoys it and to be honest, despite my occasional moan I love the freedom it gives and naturally the feeling of being right in amongst the hills and mountains. The campsite did not disappoint, literally wherever you turned there were hills. Locating the campsite was very easy with all the directions given, between the website info and signage enroute. The only confusing part initially was actually whether we drove our car to the entrance or had to ditch the car elsewhere.
At the registration tent we presented our tickets to the very cheery guys manning the tent and were given our very
bright ‘Summit to Eat’ bag with dehydrated food giveaways inside (handy for any upcoming camping or running races), as well as our event map and gold wristbands. We promptly set up tent, parked the car, although I do think Karen timed her escape break with actually unpacking and setting up sleeping bags etc for the ‘right’ moment. It’s okay though – all under control here.
Ooooft, by THE way, the showers! All that needs to be said about the showers provided is: hot, strong and room to get dressed/ changed.
Plenty of port-a-loos, I don’t think either of us had to queue for any real length of time to be honest. They were always stocked with toilet roll and hand sanitiser.
An area we did not use was the ‘quiet’ camping section, I’m impressed there was a section such as this but can’t really comment. We were both more than happy with our section, lots of room, varying sizes of tents, there were kids having a ball and of course lots of our furry friends.
Top Tip No. 4: Feedback on the 25km trail race (Karen B)
The booking of the actual event on the website was straight forward, as I mentioned, when we arrived we chose to scope out where everything was.
The registration tent was pretty much next to the start line, there were no queues so I’m thinking we were lucky. Maps for each event were around the tent, there was a changing tent and bag drop tent next door. Karen highlighted that the organisation was good, the race had fantastic views, marshalls were good. Now Karen is partial to a medal but she still enjoyed it, I think she did awesome.
The festival site itself was brilliant, a multitude of vendors from informational based companies or organisations to those selling products we’d find on the high street (loads of great discounts for the festival – I bought my first tent) to a variety of food vendors. We had our own food with us but, again if you know me, I was still hungry – oops – I just had to try the food, it was great.
The music entertainment in the evenings was also really good listening, headliner on the Saturday was Mel C!! Listening to everyone, folks were excited to hear her sing, but I have to say the guys that were on the Friday night were really good as well.
Will I be Back?
To finish, I had the most awesome time and am definitely waiting for next years tickets to become available. This year I was never out my shorts and shirt, but I know the weather can really make or break something like this. I’m hoping I don’t have to find out, hears hoping for awesome weather in 2019 – see you all there.