Bownessie set to make a new appearance

The brand character based on the Bownessie legend of Windermere is set to make an impact on Chinese visitors to the Lake District.

Marketing graduate Xiaohui He was recruited as an intern by the Cumbria Innovations Platform on a project to research the buying behaviour of international visitors.  Her research will inform innovative product development of the iconic toy created by Bowness businesswoman Naz Craig and the further development of the existing range. It will also help with the company’s marketing strategy.

bownessie in office

Bownessie makes an appearance in the office of Cumbria Innovations

“The aim of hiring a Chinese intern was to use her cultural knowledge to help shape the market research I was conducting to gain a better insight on what the many Chinese tourists do in the Lakes and how Bownessie could reach the Chinese market and improve brand positioning,” said Ms Craig. “The ultimate aim is to collate visitor information to help raise funds to take the Bownessie brand from a pilot phase and use the investment to develop the products, services and new partnerships.   The next phase is to find investors.”

The Bownessie toy, and associated items for children including colouring books and “appearances” at events, was conceived following speculation about a “monster” said by some to be living in the lake. The appearance of a mysterious creature in the water was first reported in the Westmorland Gazette following a sighting by a university lecturer, Steve Burnip. It subsequently featured in an hour-long documentary about lake monsters made by a French Canadian film company.

Sarah and student

Sarah Allison and Xiaohui He

Naz Craig said: “The idea is to build an amphibious character synonymous with the Lake District (akin to Peter Rabbit, but like the Loch Ness monster) and create a range of characterised products based on the unidentifiable creature in the lake.

“We want to develop a ‘Hide and Seek’ theme so that the we can take Bownessie around the Lake District on the basis we are looking for him.”

She added: “There have been several sightings of a mystery monster on Lake Windermere. We want to create the Bownessie brand with a range of products and activities that can be used to introduce people to the beautiful natural environment of the Lake District and show the exciting places and adventures they can have in the area.

“That’s everything including nature walks, cruising in the lake, or even having a Bownessie themed event and then taking home a memento such as a cuddly toy or other merchandise.”

Cumbria Innovations Platform project manager Sarah Allison said that the internship was an excellent example of how graduate students could help small businesses to develop ideas and products. “This was a very specific piece of market research which has enabled the client to address the needs of a target audience.”




Lake District venue for trail run weekend

The team who introduced hundreds of Cumbrian beginners to running have launched a trail-running weekend in the Lakes.

Kendal-based Jogging Pals are organising a weekend of action based at Brathay Hall at the head of Windermere, with the chance to try Pilates, stand up paddle boarding, and perhaps a dip in the lake, as well as trail running.


Wayne Singleton

Named Cumbrian community group of the year in 2017, Jogging Pals organise inclusive events such as the mental health mile in Kendal, and the Torchlight 3k run, as well as one-to-one coaching for every distance from parkruns to multi-day endurance events.

But their biggest impact has been on the lives of hundreds of previously sedentary people who have been encouraged to take up running with their couch-to-5k fitness programmes. Success stories include people who say that their lives have been changed since joining Jogging Pals; one woman completed a mountain ultra race two years after starting running with the group (see  below).

Now they plan to take runners into the heart of the Lake District with a weekend of guided runs ranging from 10 to 20k.

The weekend is aimed at runners with little experience of trail running, or those who don’t want to tackle the trails on their own.

“Our aim is to have social runs where we all enjoy each other’s company and take in the amazing environment of the World Heritage Site that is the English Lake District,” said co-founder Wayne Singleton. “This may mean that, if you’re a faster runner, you’re waiting a bit for others to catch up – but this will offer plenty of opportunity to take some awe inspiring photos. All of our runs will have two leaders, to ensure that we’re kept together, and everyone is supported.”

His colleague Glyn Rose – both are England Athletics coaches – explained: “The important part of what we do is to make sure everyone’s supported, particularly the person at the back of the pack. Our runs are gentle, moving at your pace, stopping often to take in the views, take a few snaps and to re-group.”

The running routes will take in lakeside paths, open hillside and woodland, accessed from the weekend base at Brathay Hall. Guests will be met at Oxenholme station, and the deal includes breakfast, dinner and packed lunches. There will also be an evening programme of running films and talks.

“We have seen how the lives of our Jogging Pals members have been changed by taking up running, and we felt the time was right to add something more sociable into the mix, along with the chance to experience the best trail routes that the Lake District has to offer,” said Wayne.

“We hope to offer further dates later next year, and possibly an overseas running holiday to Romania.”

The first weekend event is May 1-3, and details and further details can be found here


Penny’s story

Penny Pullinger has no doubt that joining Jogging Pals changed her life. The former CEO of Age UK in South Lakeland, Penny was encouraged to take up running after the death of her husband.

penny pullinger

“I still had professional confidence, but in the rest of my life, I had lost it all,” says Penny, who now lives near Norwich. “My son, who is a runner, came to visit and was concerned for me. He took me along to the parkrun at Fell Foot and from there I met people who were members of Jogging Pals.”

Penny says that at first she was much slower than everyone else. “But they were all so supportive, and I’ve made lifelong friends.”

She’s also moved on from the 5k distance, competing in trail races and three half marathons, the most recent one just the day before her 60th birthday. Now she has plans to enter a full marathon.

“I’ve gone from someone who didn’t run at all to this. I might not be built for speed, but this is me now. It has changed my life.”


Debra’s story

Penny’s story is echoed by 40 year old accountant Debra Jones. She started on a couch to 5k training programme solo via her phone, but when she joined Jogging Pals, she was motivated more – and met a group of people who are now her best friends.


“I was petrified at first but soon realised it was much more enjoyable running with other people,” she says.

“I’m not sporty, but I knew I had to get fitter.”

She graduated to Jogging Pals’ group running 10k and then 20k, took part in trail races, and has run two half-marathons. “It’s so inclusive, the way that old and young, fast and slow, are all welcome. I feel regenerated and happy when I’ve been running with the group.”

Debra took part in the Torchlight 3k event running with her disabled daughter Hannah in a buggy. “That was hard, but a great sense of achievement.”


Francesca’s story

Perhaps the most remarkable of all Jogging Pals’ “graduation” success stories is that of Francesca Higgins, from Kendal. Francesca, 51, only started running after being registered partially sighted five years ago. She joined the Jogging Pals 5k to 10k group after being persuaded to tackle a New Year’s Day run following a night of partying.


She has now just completed one of the UK’s toughest ultra distance races, the Lakes in Day, a 50 mile run from Caldbeck to Cartmel taking in some of the Lake District’s highest mountain ridges.

“It was brutal,” admits Francesca, who works for the Outward Bound Trust. “It was my first ultra race. I set off in the summer on a 55k trail race but didn’t finish.

“I would never have got running without the Jogging Pals. They are such a good social group.”

She decided to raise money for the Henshaws charity. “I decided to run Lakes in a Day as a challenge that would stretch me to the very edge of my abilities and beyond. Henshaws is a charity which has supported me throughout my experience of sight loss by encouraging me to believe that most of what I want to do is still possible. They’re great enablers, and it’s important that the continue this important work with other people learning to live with sight-loss.”


You can contribute to her cause here:




New film festival for the Lake District

One of the north’s leading independent cinemas has joined forces with the spirit of William Wordsworth to bring a new film festival to the Lake District next month.

The Inward Eye festival will be staged at Zeffirellis in Ambleside, with a series of 26 feature films – shorts, new releases and classic movies to be shown over a long weekend.

The festival has been organised by Zeffirellis MD Dorothy Smith along with film producer Charlotte Wontner of Hopscotch films who is a member of the Wordsworth family – owners of Rydal Mount, the home of Britain’s favourite poet.

The idea came originally from the actor Brian Cox who visited Rydal Mount three years ago when his film The Carer, produced by Wontner, was given a special screening at Zeffirellis. Cox was so impressed with the award-winning cinema that he offered to be patron of a festival there.

Cox copy

Dorothy Smith, Brian Cox and Charlotte Wontner

The festival’s title comes from the lines in Wordsworth’s most famous poem, Daffodils

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude

And then my heart with pleasure fills

And dances with the daffodils

“The daffodils are nowhere to be seen at this time of the year but their presence is always with us thanks to Wordsworth, and we wanted to reflect this in our festival,” said Dorothy Smith. “With a nod towards the local artistry of Wordsworth’s works, Inward Eye’s carefully selected films will cover themes of, Love and War, Youth and Fear, and Time and Landscape.”

While some of the films have a nature theme or local location, the festival is aiming to attract a wide audience with an eclectic range of titles. The range from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet to the Syrian war drama For Sama, and includes the cult favourite Withnail and I which was premiered at Zeffirellis when it was released back in 1987.

Documentaries include Harry Birrell’s Films of Love and War; the most awarded film from this year’s Sundance Festival, Honeyland; and Paul Wright’s Arcadia, a provocative and poetic new film exploring our relationship with the land.

Charlotte Wontner said: “Launching a film festival is like starting an epic journey. We are thrilled to be taking our first Inward Eye steps with the incredible team at Zeffirellis. We have a festival packed with new discoveries and literary and cinematic beauty that will excite and inspire our festival audience. We would love Inward Eye to become an annual event for film fanatics and emerging film talent from near and far.”

The festival runs from November 7 – 9 and full details, and booking, can be found here

Zeffirellis has been showing films in Ambleside for almost 40 years, now operating five cinema screens across three town centre sites, along with two vegetarian restaurants, a daytime café, a jazz bar which bring live music to the venue each week, a town centre guest house, and a country guest house a few miles out of town.

Rydal Mount, outside Ambleside, was the home of William Wordsworth for most of his life and from there he published his definitive version of Daffodils. The house is open to the public and will be the focus of celebrations next year to mark the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

Chloe runs

International runners head to the Lakes

Athletes from around the world will parade through Ambleside to launch a weekend festival of mountain running next summer.

The streets will see flags from more than 15 different countries carried by youngsters arriving to take part in the International Under 18 Mountain Running Cup, the organisers are hoping.

Susa runners

The English team in Susa this summer

And along with the world’s premier competition for young runners, to be staged in England for the first time, Ambleside will also host an uphill time trial race to the summit of Wansfell, and an open race over the championship course.

Chloe runs

England international Chloe Rylance in action. Photo: Steve Ashworth

The youth event has been a stepping stone for under-18 fell and mountain runners to race internationally since 2006.  Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are among those who have started their international racing careers at this championship, and for the last 12 years teams from across the world have converged annually at mountain locations in Italy, France, Ireland, Bulgaria and Czech Republic to compete for the trophy.

handing over the flag


The event flag was handed over to Ambleside AC’s Duncan Richards, chair of the organising committee, by Jonathan Wyatt, president of the World Mountain Running Association, after this summer’s race in Susa in Italy. A fundraising push is now needed to finalise the plans; the organisers are close to their £30,000 target but need a little more help.

The races will start in the town’s Rothay Park and cover marked courses on Loughrigg fell. The athletes will be accommodated at Ambleside YHA over the weekend, with a few youngsters staying at Windermere and Coniston YHA hostels on the first night.


Ambleside AC has had to raise all the funding to stage the event, including the cost of accommodating 150 athletes and officials, and they are nearing their target. The championship is supported by a number of leading companies including Epic Events, Inov8, Pete Bland Sports, and Kong Adventure. There have also been contributions from AFWM wealth management and the Ambleside Masons.

Juniors on Loughrigg

Ambleside AC junior runners test the international course on Loughrigg

“This is a fantastic accolade for our local club and will bring the international spotlight on Ambleside,” said Duncan.

“This event is all about developing and inspiring young people, be it international athletes, local athletes, local schools, clubs and communities.”

Duncan, who has been the England team manager at the last six Youth Cups, added: “I have seen the benefit such an experience can bring to young athletes, the confidence born from the shared experience of international competition.”

On the same day, (June 20) the FRA English Junior Championships will take place in the morning, followed by the international races, and then an open race for all runners over the championship course. “So Ambleside will be full of junior fell runners who can support England teams and be inspired by world class young athletes racing over Loughrigg.”

On the Friday night, after the athletes’ parade and the opening ceremony, there will be an open, uphill-only time trial event on Wansfell, starting from Ambleside town centre.

The world’s top tri-athlete Alistair Brownlee, who came 4th in the event in Italy in 2005, said: “The Youth Cup holds many special memories for me. It’s a fantastic event that motivated me to carry on and continue in sport. It will be really special to bring it to Ambleside.”

PLEASE help Ambleside AC to reach the fundraising target :

WATCH the video about this event here




Bottom bunk club for Lakes visitors

A Lake District hostel has launched the Bottom Bunk Club for groups who want to stay without climbing a ladder to bed.

Elterwater Independent Hostel, in the heart of the Langdale valley, says it’s not an age related offer, but “we know that life can get a bit more challenging as you get older. And when they need to get up in the night to go to the loo (maybe a little more often than in your youth), the climb back to the top bunk can be more challenging, than it once was.”

The Bottom Bunk Club is aimed at those groups who are happy to share a room but fight to avoid the bed ladder. And they are happy to welcome groups who want to stay indoors and read or play parlour games, as well as those who can head straight out onto the hills from the door.

“We find that the young at heart, of all ages, love coming to stay here for our location, for the great home cooking, and a few days of companionship in a beautiful location,” said manager Nick Owen.

“Our dormitories are small ones, so it’s just three to share at most. There are good hot showers and a great drying room if you do choose to spend a day on the hills.”

Which is why we’ve launched the Bottom Bunk Club.”

The deal is for a group of at least ten people, who can then have the whole hostel to themselves for a mid-week break (Monday to Thursday) in November or December.

You need to book a minimum of two nights, but it’s only £80 per person for two nights bed, breakfast and dinner.

For dinner you might be offered homemade steak pie or mushroom stroganoff, followed by Nick’s fabulous sticky toffee pudding; and the next morning there will be a full Cumbrian cooked breakfast available.

Book the Bottom Bunk Club by calling  01539437245 or email for more details.

Ambleside store leads the way in sustainable trading

A Cumbrian couple’s new business venture is setting the standard for sustainable trading.

Claire and Alec McCarthy, who run the Rattle Ghyll café in Ambleside, have now opened a fine food and deli shop in the town.

the family at the shop

It’s stocked with local – and natural – produce. And in a bid to eliminate plastic from our shopping bags, one corner is dedicated to zero-waste self-service refills of a range of grocery products.

These include beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, rice and couscous, porridge oats and muesli, which can be dispensed into paper bags or customers’ own containers; and washing up liquid and shampoo.

Claire in the shop

The shop also has a wide range of teas and coffees from local suppliers Atkinsons, Rinaldos and Red Bank, unusual cheeses as well as dairy-free and gluten-free items, fresh salads and home-made cakes.

“We want to know what our customers – locals and tourists – want us to stock,” said Claire. “We’re not just open to suggestions, we positively want them to tell us what they would like to see here.”

There are wines and beers alongside on-trend natural products such as Kimchi -a staple in Korean cuisine, which is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables – and Kombucha, a fermented drink said to have health benefits. Coming soon will be spice mixes and recipe cards so that customers can make their own versions of what they have tried at the original café.

cheeses and salads at the deli

Claire and Alec, who have a two-year old daughter Adelaide, have been running the Rattle Ghyll café for six years. They have built an award-winning reputation for home cooking and baking which has won fans among locals and tourists alike. It’s especially popular with runners and cyclists.

“The new venture is enabling us to share our concerns about the environment, to help lower carbon footprints by offering a wide range of goods locally, and to encourage shoppers to abandon plastic,” said Claire.

Shoppers were enthusiastic. Early comments included: “This will change the way we shop locally” and “It’s like a proper grocery shop used to be, and so different from all the pre-packaged goods in supermarkets.”

Chris Hodgson, who with his wife Allie runs the town’s award-winning Haven Cottage guest house, and is a member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future, welcomed the new shop. He said: “This is an exciting new venture which will encourage people to shop locally, for fantastic tasting local produce, and cut down on our use of plastics. It also proves you don’t have to sacrifice taste and flavour to support sustainability.”

A spokesperson for AAFAF said that the group had been quietly cheering on the new venture and was absolutely delighted that it was coming to fruition. “It will certainly contribute very significantly to reducing plastic usage in the town and bring the issue of plastic containers and packaging to the forefront of people’s minds.” She added that AAFAF’s members would certainly be among its most regular and enthusiastic

home baked bread at the new shop

Rydal Round results 2019

Rydal Round Results, July 25 2019

  1. Ricky Lightfoot, Ellenborough (1.25.12)
  2. Nathan Lawson, Dark Peak (1.25.30)
  3. Rhys Findlay Robinson, Dark Peak (1.25.49)
  4. Garry Greenhow, Ambleside (1.28.58) MV40
  5. Joe Kenny, Helm Hill (1.29.09)
  6. Tom Simpson, Ambleside (1.34.15)
  7. Jack Wright, Ambleside (1.35.09)
  8. Max Wainwright, Dark Peak (1.35.12)
  9. Oliver Gajdowski, Ambleside (1.35.16)
  10. James Harris, Ambleside (1.38.41)
  11. Pete Rigby, Helm Hill (1.39.59)
  12. Luke Bowen, Ambleside (1.41.50)
  13. Julian Hood, Barlick (1.42.18) MV40
  14. Steve Jones, Keswick (1.42.33) MV40
  15. Kelli Roberts, Helm Hill (1.42.41) F
  16. Barry Wilkinson, Borrowdale (1.45.15) MV50
  17. John Horrocks, Blackburn Harriers (1.46.00)
  18. Philip Pearson, Northern Fells (1.46.18) MV50
  19. Josh Hartley, Black Combe (1.48.01)
  20. David Blackshaw, u/a (1.48.33) MV40
  21. Dan Gilbert, Horwich (1.48.41) MV40
  22. Dominic Raby, Chorley (1.48.56) MV40
  23. James Baron, Helm Hill (1.49.13) MV50
  24. Simon Netherway, Keswick (1.49.57)
  25. Calvin Routledge, Ambleside (1.50.11) MV50
  26. Natalie Beadle, OUAC (1.50.43) F
  27. James Titmuss, Horwich (1.52.18) MV40
  28. Ben Timbers, KCAC (1.53.11) MV40
  29. Shane Ohly, Helm Hill (1.55.24) MV40
  30. Graham Kennedy, u/a (1.53.50) MV40
  31. Gary Crone u/a (1.54.41) MV40
  32. Karl Steinegger, Ambleside (1.55.01)
  33. Richard Cross, u/a (1.55.19) MV50
  34. Darren Fishwick, Chorley (1.55.31) MV40
  35. Andy Preedy, Rossendale (1.57.27) MV40
  36. Andy Summers, Victoria Park Harriers (1.57.33) MV40
  37. Lucy Scott, u/a (1.57.50) F
  38. Stephen Burton, Accrington RR (1.59.22) MV40
  39. Paul Chamberlain, u/a (2.00.07) MV40
  40. Steve Angus, Keswick (2.00.17) MV50
  41. Bryony Halcrow, Harrogate Harriers (2.00.28) F
  42. Carlos Bedson, Cheshire Hill Racers (2.00.35) MV50
  43. Jo Buckley, CVFR (2.00.55) FV40
  44. Keith Melvin, u/a (2.02.06)
  45. Jonathan Whitaker, Harrogate Harriers (2.02.44) MV50
  46. Jackie Murdy, S Shields Harriers (2.04.57) FV50
  47. Rosie Watson, CVFR (2.07.31) F
  48. Jess Richardson, u/a (2.08.08) F
  49. Leigh Warburton, u/a (2.08.20) MV60
  50. Adam Hayden, Dark peak (2.09.49)
  51. Dan Croft, Macclesfield (2.09.59) MV50
  52. Andrew Tongue, Chorlton (2.10.32)
  53. Ben Vince, u/a (2.11.23)
  54. Joe Rigby, u/a (2.12.36)
  55. Keiran Horrigan, u/a (2.12.42) MV50
  56. Graham Brown, Macclesfield (2.13.52) MV40
  57. Alison Wainwright, Dark Peak (2.14.35) FV50
  58. Jack Waterhouse, u/a (2.15.30)
  59. Jon Underwood, CVFR (2.15.32) MV40
  60. Scott Watson, Hyde Park Harriers (2.15.56) MV40
  61. Marcus Taylor, Horwich (2.16.23) MV40
  62. Ian Greenfield, u/a (2.20.04) MV40
  63. David Williams, Ellenborough (2.20.15)
  64. Nicola Sikes, Bournville Harriers (2.20.16) F
  65. Roger Taylor, Preston Harriers (2.20.23) MV50
  66. Julie Darigala, u/a (2.22.00) FV40
  67. Ella Waddingham, Wimbledon Windmilers (2.23.02) F
  68. Andrea Frost, Macclesfield (2.24.11) FV50
  69. Catherine Spurden, Keswick (2.24.19) F
  70. Tom Makin, Achille Ratti (2.25.24)
  71. Kelly Clark, Victoria Park Harriers (2.28.02) F
  72. Katherine Barker, u/a (2.28.29) F
  73. Dan Oldfield, u/a (2.29.46) MV40
  74. Trevor Symonds, Northern Fells (2.30.37) MV60
  75. Michael McLoughlin, Preston Harriers (2.32.59) MV60
  76. Tom Robinson, u/a (2.33.54)
  77. Katy Thompson, Clayton le Moors (2.34.06) FV60
  78. Neil Weightman, u/a (2.34.17) MV50
  79. Brent Lindsay, Penistone (2.35.52) MV50
  80. Bob Summers, BC Runners (2.36.16)MV40
  81. Alice Kershaw, u/a (2.36.57) F
  82. Don Kershaw, u/a (2.36.58) MV60
  83. Paul Stocks, u/a (2.38.36) MV50
  84. Andrew Conner , Helm Hill (2.47.02) MV50
  85. Denise Turnstall, Durham FR (2.50.44) FV50
  86. Howard Proctor, u/a (2.50.45) MV50
  87. Kevin Ayre, S Shields (2.51.36) MV50
  88. Francis Woofk, Chorlton (2.52.22) MV50
  89. Peter Murray, York Acorn (2.52.47) MV40
  90. Susie Anton u/a (2.53.36) F
  91. Simon Wiggins, Felixstowe (2.54.09) MV40
  92. Ben Gent, Winston Runners (2.57.58) MV40
  93. Niki Rylance, Ambleside (2.57.58) FV40
  94. Richard Tait, Ambleside (3.12.03) MV50
  95. Craig Eccles, Clayton le Moors (3.14.35) MV40