I missed last year’s KMF but was lucky to find the time to go along this year, with my good friend Dan, so here are my highlights:
In all honesty we were not very well organised and I think if we had done our research better we could have skipped from one venue to the next without missing out too much. Instead we had some big gaps to fill and sort of double-booked ourselves.
We ended up watching a few films which were very interesting but sitting in a comfy chair, in a dark room with a large coffee being whisked off to amazing places also meant we missed the Patagonia Adventure Activists session that we had paid for.
This wasn’t the only case of my bad planning. I think what I would like to see at KMF is more ways to fill time between events because we ended up having a large time gap and if you do not have a fairly full schedule it can be a little tricky to pass the time. This is especially true when you are the designated driver, as watching your mate sink pints is less than interesting.
Now, before picking out some of my highlights I just wanted to say one more thing that Dan and I were surprised by (it was Dan's first time at KMF incidentally) and that is the fact that it remains very uncommercial. The bookshop was pretty small and didn’t have the book I was looking for from one of the event speakers. I was informed all his books had been moved to another venue but they were nowhere to be seen in this other venue.
Whether this commercial aspect will change as the festival continues to become more focused on the very wide world of outdoor activities well beyond the strictness of it’s nomenclature as a “Mountain” festival remains to be seen.
Right… I still had a great time. It was lovely to meet some people for the first time, including Alex Roddie whom I have mentioned a fair few times on this blog - as well as older faces from our lovely outdoor community.
I thought this was a powerful film because it gives me even more hope that we can genuinely make a sustainable and happy planet on which to live for as long as we can when I see people in less affluent countries campaigning this hard. This might sound patronising, but I don’t care!
I found Rok Rozman’s emotional and impassioned Balkan River Tour in which he (along with his team) tirelessly campaigned against, pressured and highlighted the dangers of some 2700 proposed rivers dams in the Balkans to be a little gem; David against Goliath. Rok and his team deserve much praise and support.
Find out more: https://balkanriverdefence.org/crew/
The Longest Hole
I like a bit of golf, although I don’t play nearly enough. But hitting a golf ball for for 82 days and 2000 km across Mongolia is perhaps a bit too much for even the most ardent obsessives. However Adam Rolston and Ron Rutland’s trans-Mongolian trip made for a really fun adventure and a great film. Also, you don’t actually need to be a golf fan to enjoy it.
The UK in 100 seconds.
Narrated by Benjamin Zephaniah, this short film truly shows the UK in its correct proportions. Directed by Daniel Raven-Ellison this is a 100 second walk across our isle.
I have not seen Alastair Humphreys speak before and although at an event like this he is very much preaching to the converted it was great to hear someone talk with such enthusiasm and modesty about wanting to inspire others to enjoy time outdoors. He has certainly been an inspiration to me in making the most of smaller “adventures”.
Anyone who follows Brendan Leonard on social media, watches his films or reads his essays will know how amusing he is and in person this is no different. I think what is most enjoyable about the likes of Brendan (and Alastair Humphreys come to think of it) is the feeling that they are amateurs - accomplished and skilful, but through their modesty and natural affinity with the audience they help us retain the belief that they are like us. In other words we see a version of ourselves in these kind of people and their achievements. Perhaps a version we aspire to but nevertheless one that is attainable.
Listening to Brendan speak, peppering his talk with amusing slides, I felt myself hoping and praying that I can find a way to fix my knee. Silently I promised myself that if that day comes I will put in the time, I will make the most of my limbs, I will push myself, I will prove to myself that I can run an ultra.
Check out his short film: How to run 100 miles.
ICELAND (the shop not the country)
Friday evening on the Marmot Stage saw Richard Walker (MD of Iceland Foods) and Hugo Tagholm (CEO of Surfers Against Sewage) announce a partnership that will see them collaborate in pressuring business and communities to change their attitude towards plastic. Iceland Foods has committed to make it’s own-brand products plastic free by 2023 and this is on the back of their “controversial” Palm Oil advert.
They were joined on stage by Kenton Cool who also spoke passionately about educating the next generations regarding environmental issues.
Now here is my two pence worth… I know in this country we really lovely fluffy cute things (e.g. Orangutans) so it's a good way to get attention, but I also hope the wider world will increase the focus on the effect that our “raping and pillaging” of the environment will have on humans. I kind of feel that we maybe don't make enough of this. Ultimately we are going to kill ourselves and this is something which will resonate across all races and all nations (I would like to think).
Now this is only a tiny fraction of what was on offer (especially on the film side) and based entirely on what I had time to see in a couple of days. For more info and details of everything head over to Kendal Mountain Festival.