Monthly Archives: March 2022

Wild women and a parkrun legend to headline at Cumbrian festival

The Wonderful Wild Women are taking over the main stage at this year’s Eden Escape Festival. The community, who aim to empower women of any age or experience to get out and appreciate nature and have adventures will lead activities, on the opening night at the end of May.

And a leading figure in the parkrun world, Tom Williams, will be a keynote speaker on the Saturday. Tom, who is Global Chief Operating Officer at parkrun, will appear at the family-friendly weekend festival in Cumbria which has fitness and adventure at its heart. There’s also camping and music, running and swimming sessions, yoga and adventure films, and children’s activities.

Tom Williams and son Aston on parkrun volunteer duty

Tom will be joined on the inspiration stage by writer Steve Chilton and adventurer Ross Brannigan. Steve is the author of a number of books including It’s a Hill, Get Over it;  All or Nothing at All (the life of fell-runner Bill Bland); and Running Hard, the story of the rivalry between running champions John Wild and Kenny Stuart. He’s currently working on a book about women runners.

Ross is a Scottish runner, writer and environmentalist with a passion for adventures in wild places. His first book Running Adventures Scotland has just been published, which features 25 inspiring running routes through some of Scotland’s awe-inspiring landscapes.

Ross Brannigan

The talks will be on the Saturday afternoon at the Eden Escape Festival will be held at Mains Farm, Kirkoswald, on the banks of River Eden in the northern Lake District at the end of May. It’s organised by Wiz Lees and Leigh-Ann Newburn, from Shap, and Keswick-based wild-swimming guru Ali Phillips.

Wiz is a personal trainer and fitness instructor, and Leigh Ann teaches yoga, and together they created Fox Red Events to organise the festival, which had a small-scale launch in 2019. After two years hit by the pandemic, they’re planning to offer adventures on a local level and a staycation experience for the whole family. Ali, a well-known blogger for Girl About the Lake District, will be bringing her expertise to the river-swimming side of the adventures.

Staged at the farm camp site, the festival promises a real escape from the ordinary, a time to get away from it all, spend time together outdoors, getting active and enjoying great company and great food.

Wiz Lees said: “We are delighted that the inspirational Tom Williams will be joining us. He represents the parkrun ethos, to make the world a healthier and happier place through their free, weekly 5k events. That fits perfectly with our aim here, to offer open-air adventures at a local and sustainable level.

“Steve and Ross also share our obsession with being outdoors and active. We all know the benefits that come with exercise, especially when it comes to mental health. In today’s work-obsessed world, more people are finding it difficult to manage stress, and live in constant worry about something or the other.”

She added: “It’s possible to have a really exciting time, and have mini-adventures, here on the banks of the River Eden, without having to travel too far.”

The festival will stage music events, including a 1980s night on the Saturday featuring tribute band Under Neon, Zumba sessions, and films from Kendal Mountain Festival. Massage therapies will be available, and there will be a market area in the former milking parlour where locally-made crafts, clothes, toiletries, candles and much more will be on sale. There’ll be plenty of good food available, with lots of vegetarian and vegan choices, but also chicken and chips and pizza. Says Wiz: “We know what families want when they go away for a weekend, and we know it means catering for everyone.”


Friday features the Wonderful Wild Women who will be taking over the main stage. This is a community which aims to inspire women of any age or experience to get out into nature and experience adventures. There will be yoga classes, a chance to swim in the river, and go for a late night run with the Jogging Pals. Or stay on site and have a cocktail!

Saturday: Fitness classes, talks, films from Kendal Mountain Festival, workshops and more river dipping. In the evening there’s music from Rachel Kraft and Graham Potter, followed by 80s tribute band Under Neon.

Sunday: Breakfast cinema club, yoga, fitness classes, workshops, river activities and old-fashioned field games like rounders and tug of war.

The festival is on May 27-29. For more information and to book tickets see

  • A number of parkruns can be reached from the festival site including Penrith (20 minutes), Talkin Tarn (25 mins), Carlisle (30 mins), Keswick (45 mins), Whinlatter (50 mins) and Tyne Green (65 mins).