Monthly Archives: June 2016

Born to run, say weekend workshop athletes

Athletes from across Britain joined a weekend workshop for a master class in Born to Run techniques.

born to run workshop weekend runners

They were led by Paul Tierney, the UK Born to Run master coach, who led sessions on the fells around Ambleside as well as in the lecture theatre and on the treadmill in the town’s Kelsick Centre.

Paul will be running further “bulletproof running” workshops later this summer and autumn, as well as running technique and conditioning classes in Ambleside and Kendal. See details and dates

Paul has been involved in sport from an early age, playing the Irish sport of hurling to a high level until his early 20s. He then took up mountain running, and twice represented his country at the  World Ultra Trail Championships.

He came to the Lake District in 2011 to take part in the Lakeland 100 (mile) race, came third, and fell in love with the area. He’s since been runner-up, and in 2015 – having come to live in Ambleside – he won the race. Known as the ‘Ultra Tour of the Lake District’ this is the most spectacular long distance trail race in the UK, a  circular route around the Lakeland fells on public bridleways and footpaths, with 6300m of climbing. He’s hoping to win the race again at the end of July.

Paul’s interest in coaching stemmed originally from a desire to improve his own performance but was also motivated by wanting to reduce the high injury rates among runners today.

Following a coaching course he set up a fitness business, Missing Link, with his partner Sarah McCormack, a part-time ecologist with Natural England who happens to be one of Britain’s top fell runners.

Sarah, to date, prefers “shorter” races, up to 15 miles; Paul, who won the 100 miler in 20 hours 42 minutes, is the endurance expert, and has also won the Lake District Old Counties Tops race with teammate Ben Abdelnoor (37 miles and around 10,000 feet of climbing) and completed the 66-mile, 42-summit Bob Graham round in 17 hours 59.


When the going gets tough…athletes to watch in Triathlon X

Top athletes from around the world gather at Waterhead,  Ambleside this weekend for the world’s toughest iron-distance triathlon.

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Rainbow over race HQ: Steve Ashworth, Lake District Images

Triathlon X will see 200 competitors tackle a two mile swim in Windermere, a 112-mile bike ride over all the Lakeland passes on the infamous Fred Whitton route, and then run a mountain marathon to the top of Scafell Pike and back.

Race HQ is Ambleside YHA where the athletes will jump into the water at 4.30 am. It’s expected that the winning time will be around 14 hours.

Our team of pundits has been assessing recent form, and reckons that Karl Alexander, who races as a pro ironman, is in with a good chance of taking the Lakeland UK £1000 prize. Also contending could be Andy Mouncey, completer of the Arch to Arc challenge, and on the Lakes 100 podium last year.

Also look out for Simon Greening who had a terrific result at last year’s Helvelyn Triathlon and is a very strong cyclist; and Gareth Huxley, who has several sub 10-hour Ironman finishes under his belt and was second at the Wasdale Half X in 2013.

Among the overseas competitors, watch out for Andrew  Drobeck from Montana, USA.

Only a handful of women will be competing for the £1000 prize money from Heart of the Lakes. Keep an eye on Jan Rogers who had a good result at the Celtman triathlon in 2014 and has lots of experience; and Daisy Baggs racing with Team Newcastle Triathlon.

Spectators will be welcome along the route, during the day on the passes, and in late afternoon and evening in Langdale, with a checkpoint at the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel. There will be music and entertainment, and a barbecue, throughout the day at race HQ at YHA Ambleside, and the first entrant is expected back at around 6pm.

Women wrestlers take Lakes World Heritage bid to the streets of London

Three sisters from Cumbria are heading to London today, (Thurs June 16) to start wrestling bouts in famous tourist areas.

The Hodgson sisters  will wear full traditional regalia in a series of promotional events to highlight the first ever women’s world championship in Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling this summer at Ambleside Sports.



Their sporting day out is supported by the Lake District National Park who see traditional sports as a key feature of their bid for World Heritage status, and by Virgin Trains who link London with the Lakes.

Tracy (25), Connie (20) and Rosie (9) Hodgson will be accompanied by mum Wendy and dad Trevor, who is a former two-times world champion. The family lives in Dent. Hannah (21) was supposed to be there too, but she’s sprained her ankle and is on crutches.

The traditional sport, at which women were allowed to compete for the first time only ten years ago, will feature the world title event in the “all-weights” division at Ambleside Sports on July 28.

Like their male counterparts, women wrestlers will be expected to wear the traditional costume of long leggings with a singlet and elasticated centre-piece. Embroidered motifs are common but optional.

Cumberland wrestling is a key feature of the traditional sports fixtures throughout the Lake District each summer. Thought to have Norse or Viking origins, it was practised in the north long before football and cricket became popular games.

“We are very proud to be hosting the first world championship,” said Jak Hirst, the Ambleside Sports chairman and a former professional juggler.

“We have staged women’s events over the last few years but we are thrilled to have the world championship here in our 130th anniversary.”

Virgin Trains are supporting Ambleside Sports this year, and they have provided tickets for the Hodgson sisters’ visit to London. They also arranged for “The Cumbrian Spirit” pendolino train to take the party from Oxenholme to London. This train was named in March to celebrate the spirit of the Cumbrian people following the floods.

John Hodgson, World Heritage Coordinator for the Lake District National Park said: “Traditional sports, such as Cumbrian Wrestling, are a key feature of the World Heritage bid as a rich cultural landscape. Good luck to the women wrestlers taking the sport to London!”

Michelle Ragozzino, Virgin Trains Station Manager at Oxenholme, said: “We’re keen to showcase everything Cumbria has to offer and that it is very much open for business this summer, following the devastating floods earlier in the year. We’re proud to play our part in highlighting that the world’s first ever women’s wrestling championships will be taking place in Ambleside. We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the world to Oxenholme and hope they have chance to explore this beautiful region.”

The first Ambleside Sports featured wrestling along with the same events which are on the schedules today: fell running, track racing, track cycling and hound-trailing.

Cumberland wrestling has parallels elsewhere in Eastern Europe, in Iceland and in Brittany. In the UK, there are mixed events for juniors under 12, as happens in other sports, and then separate bouts for men and women. “We’ve had plenty of girls and women competing at Ambleside over the last few years,” said Jak Hirst.

Connie (20), a sports coaching student, said: “We all love it. We used to go with dad to the wrestling academy in Kendal,” said Connie. “It’s a quick and nimble sport. And it was something different to talk about at school.”

Ambleside Traditional Lakeland Sports will be held at Rydal Park, Thursday July 28

The Ambleside duo tackling the world’s toughest race for charity

Ambleside GP Dr Paul Davies is to tackle his first iron-distance triathlon to raise money for St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston.

Paul, 50, who works for the Central Lakes Medical Group, will be among 200 competitors in Triathlon X, the world’s toughest extreme event, on June 25 starting at YHA Ambleside.

And he’s been training with Ambleside fitness instructor Ursula Brendling who’s also doing her first triathlon to mark her 50th birthday.

Paul and Urs 3

Paul is a keen athlete who has previously completed shorter distance triathlons at Wasdale and Buttermere. He said: “I chose to fundraise for our South Lakes hospice because as  a GP I know what valuable  work they do. They provide in-patient care, out-patient care, and clinics and hospice-at-home care  for patients and their families [ including nursing staff to  stay overnight in patients’ homes ] as well as all round holistic care  and support at the Hospice itself.

“I live and work here in this beautiful place and  really look forward to  doing our local iron-man triathlon, particularly as its been created  by one of my  close  friends  Mark Blackburn.”

Paul said that he was looking forward to the race for many reasons. “Swimming in  Windermere at dawn will be beautiful. Then the Fred  Whitton cycling route is iconic and  spectacular , particularly  going over Kirkstone, Honister , Hard Knott and Wrynose passes. And I love the Great Langdale valley and what better route than scaling  Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.”

He said that the challenge would be physically and psychologically fascinating: “I feel it will be a way of fundraising for such a good cause , while celebrating and being mindful of  this  beautiful place, by being literally fully immersed in it over  a long  and challenging day.”

Paul has been using an unusual training technique for the triathlon: he’s been reciting his lines and songs  for the character  he’s playing in Grasmere Players’   summer production, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which has just opened for a six-week run (Weds and Thursday 8pm Grasmere  Village Hall ).

As part of his training regime he tackled the Great North Swim with training partner Ursula Brendling. Ursula is raising money for Nurture Lakeland with her triathlon attempt “because I believe being in nature promotes health. The Fix the Fells project in the Lake District enables us to walk, cycle, run, gain wheelchair access to many spectacular places that really do improve the quality of our lives.”

Triathlon X will start at 4.30 am on Saturday June 25 with a two mile swim from Waterhead to Seamew Crag island and back, twice. Competitors will then cycle 112 miles along the Fred Whitton route over all the Lakeland passes, before returning to base, and setting off on the 26 mile run to the top of Scafell Pike and back.

Spectators will be welcome along the route, during the day on the passes, and in late afternoon and evening in Langdale, with a checkpoint at the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel. There will be music and entertainment, and a barbecue, throughout the day at race HQ at YHA Ambleside, and the first entrant is expected back at around 6pm.

Windermere-based Lakeland UK and the cottage company Heart of the Lakes have each donated £1000 prize money for the first man and woman to finish. There are also prizes from Hawkshead Relish, and competitors’ goody-bags with items from Willow Water, Romneys Kendal Mint Cake, Blue Seventy wetsuits, and Mountain Fuel.

People can donate to Paul’s  cause at Ambleside  Health Centre or  Hawkshead Surgery  where there are donation boxes,  or by donating on-line  via

Ursula’s fundraising can be accessed at

You can read Ursula’s training blogs here:

Kendal businessman’s family hit the high notes

Kendal businessman Alan Jewitt has two strong reasons to support the production of Made in Dagenham playing this week at the Brewery Arts Centre.

Two of his family are playing in the band for the hit musical which recently completed a successful West End run.

Son Dave Storer, who is returning to Kendal College in September to study on the Musical Theatre course, will be drumming in the band, and daughter Heather, who has just finished her third year studying in Glasgow will be playing keyboards and is in charge of sound effects.

Inspired by a true story and based on the hit movie, Made in Dagenham is the uplifting musical comedy about friendship, love and the importance of fighting for what is right. Made in Dagenham is set in Essex 1968 where Rita O’Grady is just trying to get her husband out of bed, get the kids off to school and get to work at the factory on time.

Her life  is about to change forever when it’s announced that the girls in the stitching room of Ford’s Dagenham car plant will have their pay grade dropped to ‘unskilled’. Rita leads her friends in a battle against the might of Ford and the corruption of the Union supposed to protect them. As the girls’ inspiring journey gets bigger than anyone could have imagined, the pressure is too much for some, but can Rita keep up the fight and the happy home she’s worked so hard for?

The show runs at the Brewery Arts Centre from Wednesday to Saturday (June 15-18).

Alan, (pictured) who is managing director of SYPO, the e-commerce and web development company, said: “We think the show is brilliant and we are supporting it by advertising in the programme. The Performing Arts faculty at Kendal College is fantastic and so is the director, Hilary Pezet, who deserves lots of credit.”

jewitt pic

Alan’s is a very musical family; another daughter, Lauren Storer, is currently touring Britain with the musical Footloose.

More details:


Old tradition needs young support

One of Cumbria’s oldest traditional sports is in danger of dying out because too few young people want to become involved.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Hound trailing is one of the county’s oldest sports. It developed as a way of keeping the fox hounds fit when the hunting season was over, though the dogs today are a different breed, leaner and lighter, and their coats are clipped to give them extra speed. They race around the fells, not on paths but across the roughest and toughest ground, following a scented trail, a pungent mixture of aniseed and paraffin.

The sight of the hounds racing to the finish at country shows throughout the summer seasons is a thrilling experience, but there’s a danger that the trails soon be a thing of the past.

“We are struggling to get young people interested,” says Ambleside’s Lynn Garrity who is not only an owner and trainer but also, with husband Paul, a bookmaker taking bets at hound trail fixtures as well as horse races and point to point races.

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Lynn Garrity: We need young people to support hound trailing

“A lot of the older characters in the sport have died, and there are too many different distractions for young people today.”

Lynn and Paul’s own hounds, Songbird and Huntman’s Hope, were respectively puppy champion and senior trails runner-up two years ago. She has been involved with hounds since she was a little girl. “My uncles and grandparents had hounds, and I always loved being outside and watching them run. It’s such a buzz.”

The racing season runs from April till October, with the big South Lakes event being at Ambleside Sports on the last Thursday in July. There are up to six fixtures a week across the county, attracting as many as 70 dogs, racing in different categories. And betting is keen, with half a dozen bookies likely to be present at Ambleside Sports, and bets of up to £500 being placed.

Jak Hirst, chairman of Ambleside Sports, said: “The hound trails are such an iconic fixture at our event every year.  The excitement, for spectators as well as owners, is fantastic. It would be a tragedy if we can’t find a new generation of enthusiasts.”

What’s needed, says Lynn, is people to come forward to own and train their own dogs, as well as more visitors turning up to watch the races. “It is quite demanding. The dogs need to be walked for two or three hours a day and they need a special diet. But it’s so much fun. And when they retire from racing, the dogs are the most lovely family pets.”

Anybody wanting to participate in the running of hounds must be a member of the Hound Trailing  Association and have their hounds registered. Some owners like to breed their own puppies, others buy them from a breeder. Puppies begin their training at six months and by the end of the year they are racing on practice trails against other pups. By the start of the season proper in April they are ready for the real thing. Contact for more information.


  • Trail hounds need a special diet, but each owner works out their own. Some are guarded secrets, though Lynn Garrity says that hers are fed a mixture of carbohydrates and protein – pasta and rice, fish and eggs – and are partial to toast, banana and cold tea for breakfast. Before a race they’ll have a light diet of Weetabix, rice pudding, egg and honey.
  • The hounds are trained from puppies to follow the scent of aniseed and paraffin, being coaxed into following it over ever increasing circles.
  • The one to watch this year at Ambleside Sports is the puppy, Jenny’s Aura.

One man’s mission to document climate change

A crowd-funding campaign launches today to fund the publication of a dynamic, terrifying and very beautiful book of photographs.

Images from a warming planet is a selection of some 500 pictures from a massive collection gathered over 13 years by photographer and campaigner Ashley Cooper.

ash book

Ashley, who lives in Ambleside and is a member of the local mountain rescue team, has spent 13 years on a remarkable and dangerous journey to record the impact of climate change throughout the world.

He amassed more than 70,000 images and is the only living photographer to have documented climate change on every continent.

Now he is aiming to raise £50,000 to cover the costs of printing and publishing the book later this year. He has one month in which to raise the money through a kickstarter campaign 

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Ashley Cooper: Capturing images that graphically demonstrate the impact of global warming, on people, places and wildlife.

A video introducing the campaign has a foreword by the leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt.

Says Ashley: ” What I have seen is truly shocking. I passionately believe that climate change is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced. My book is a wake-up call to show how climate change is already impacting all around the world.”