This was the first year I had attended the Keswick Mountain Festival, and very enjoyable it was too. Crow Park, by the Theatre on the Lake, was a beautiful setting, with Derwentwater and Cat Bells and the Borrowdale fells as a backdrop.
I was there on the Saturday to give a talk in the Adventure Tipi. The subject was The Bob Graham Round, it’s history and characters. It was obviously a plug for my latest book ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’, but also a chance to share my thoughts on the recent stunning BGR achievements by Jasmin Paris and Nicky Spinks.
The Adventure Tipi was surprisingly small but suitably filled. It was nice to see Steve Birkinshaw in the audience, who had been talking earlier in the weekend about his Wainwrights record and his problems recovering from it. My talk seemed to be well received, and a few folk came and had a chat and to buy books after. It was necessary to shut out the noise of people having fun coming through the tipi walls. To clarify, it was the noise that was coming through the walls, not the people! Once I had started I soon forgot about that though.
It was great to have Mike Cambray there in support, and his short video of the first part of talk is available below. It was also great to have a quick chat with friend Rob Morris (having a quick break from his festival volunteering duties).
We had a quick scoot round the fascinating range of stalls, with Mike doing his best to keep Alpkit in business with his enthusiasm for their range of products. In the evening we were back to hear two of the climbing world’s finest give their talks in the Theatre. Simon Yates gave a whistle stop run through of his career, including a reference to the rope-cutting Joe Simpson incident, but more interestingly for me some of his recent trips. Mick Fowler was a very relaxed presenter, very entertainingly outlining his approach to climbing new routes on some of the more obscure mountain ranges of the world. I was intrigued by his claim to use Google Earth as a planning tool for searching out new and potential lines on said remote peaks.
A full-on weekend was completed by a range of activities, including bagging 3 new Wainwrights, a run on Hardknott, a couple of trips to Wilfs, and doing two great interviews for my next book – with Kenny Stuart and Joss Naylor. Oh, and a temporary separation from my wallet. Fortunately the lovely people at Woodlands Tearooms in Santon Bridge phoned me to inform me of my stupidity in leaving it on a table there.