Tag Archives: Lake District

The swimming doctor’s invitation to her book launch

A doctor who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the start of the Covid pandemic is launching her book about the experience.

The event will take place at Kendal Library on Saturday November 12, starting at 10 am, and Marisa hopes that all those affected by cancer in some way will call in for a chat.

Marisa, who lives at Natland,  is a consultant psychiatrist for older people, and runs the psychiatry programme for medical students at Lancaster Medical School.

But she’s also an open water swimmer, climber, runner and adventurer – along with being the author of a truly uplifting and occasionally very funny book.

Marisa swimming in Angle Tarn

Marisa documented the ups and downs of her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer during the Covid pandemic initially in a blog, before publishing the whole story in Cancer, Covid and  Me.

“In April 2020 doctors revealed I had breast cancer, just two weeks after the Government initiated a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus,” she says.

“I was told that I would need mastectomy surgery but this was delayed indefinitely due to the pandemic.  I was going into work with the knowledge that I had cancer growing in my breast which was a very difficult and stressful thing to have hanging over me.”

At Sam Read’s bookshop in Grasmere

Marisa eventually had her surgery later that year. She says that writing gave her a focus at a time when she was not only feeling poorly but was also denied access to her beloved Lake District mountains, due to pandemic restrictions.

She decided to publish the book in the hope that it will provide inspiration and insight for others.

“I hope that reading my book might help some women, their loved ones and maybe even their doctors, to realise that they are not alone and to laugh and cry with me over the horrors and the funny bits of having breast cancer. I also hope it’s informative on what to expect post-mastectomy with immediate implant reconstruction and the mental processes we go through as survivors.”

Marisa is donating a percentage of the sales to CancerCare which supported her with counselling during her treatment and Breast Cancer Now.

“I can’t speak highly enough of CancerCare. Just having that listening ear and someone to tell you that it is completely normal to feel the way you are feeling really helped during my treatment,” she said.

Everyone is welcome to come along to the library, where Marisa will be signing copies of the book, but will also be happy to chat with anyone affected by cancer. Or anyone who shares her passion for the outdoors!

The event is at Kendal Library (Stricklandgate, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4PY) from 10-12 on Saturday November 12. All welcome.

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Learning to paint on perfect weekend break

VISITING the Lake District has inspired artists for centuries. But now those who want to learn how to paint can sign up for a dream weekend in the heart of Romantic Lakeland.

A weekend watercolour painting course is to be staged at Rydal Lodge, with bed and breakfast accommodation alongside two days landscape painting tuition with artist Ron Bailey.

The ideal place for artists to be inspired

Rydal Lodge, just north of Ambleside, is a riverside b&b set in beautiful grounds at the epicentre of the Romantic movement in the Lakes. Just across the road is Rydal Mount, once the home of the poet William Wordsworth. And also nearby is the picturesque Grotto in the grounds of Rydal Hall which was built specially for artists with a window onto a spectacular waterfall. It was designed so that painters could sit in comfort while they captured the view.

But Rydal Lodge is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the UK, from the tranquility of Rydal Water and Grasmere to the majestic heights of Loughrigg fell and the Fairfield horseshoe range of mountains. It’s a dream setting for artists.

“Ron has been here before and finds it to be such an inspirational place to paint,” says proprietor Helena Tendall, who runs the b&b with husband Mark. “He’s such a talented artist and we were thrilled when he offered to come and share his skills with our visitors. He’s run several weekend sessions already and they have been a great success.”

Ron Bailey has been involved in teaching art to adults for more than 40 years, using watercolour, oil and acrylic, pen and wash. He paints mainly landscapes in a traditional style but also enjoys doing more contemporary work. He currently has work on display at a gallery in the north Lakes.

“With all groups I try to generate the right atmosphere during a teaching session because I’ve found that the social element is valuable to many of the participants,” he says. “Gentle humour is often welcomed.”

The next painting weekend will run from Friday June 3 to Sunday June 5, and includes two days’ painting tuition, two days’ bed and breakfast accommodation and light lunches, and a non-painting partner can stay in the same room for a £40 supplement. Prices range from £260 for sole occupancy. There’s always the possibility of booking for the Thursday (extra bank holiday) as well.

Bookings by phone or email only:  info@rydallodge.co.uk or 015394 33208

Landscape painter Ron Bailey

parkrun legend Tom Williams to “headline” at Cumbrian festival

A leading figure in the parkrun world, Tom Williams, will be a keynote speaker at the Eden Escape festival in May.

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, whose wife Helen presents the Free Weekly Timed parkrun podcast with broadcaster Vassos Alexander, supports more than 2,000 parkrun events across 23 countries. With a BSc in Human Biology, Exercise and Health, and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science, he spent four years in the academic sport science department at the University of Leeds then started working full time for parkrun in 2011.

Tom and son Aston on parkrun volunteer duty

In 2010 he started the Marathon Talk running podcast, which ran for 600 episodes over 12 years and throughout that time was the most-downloaded UK running podcast. He’s completed 25 marathons (with a PB of 2:49) and seven Ironman triathlons (with a PB of 9:24).

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. 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. We know that Tom will be an informative and entertaining speaker for everyone, even if they haven’t done a parkrun yet.”

More guest speakers will be announced shortly. The festival will stage music events, including a 1980s night on the Saturday featuring tribute band Under Neon, 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.”

The festival is on May 27-29. For more information and to book tickets see https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

  • 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).

Marathon readers hoping that the lake will freeze

Fans of the Swallows and Amazons writer Arthur Ransome will gather at the Windermere Jetty Museum in the new year to celebrate another of his children’s classic stories.

A group of around 30 people will take part in the marathon reading of Winter Holiday, an adventure tale in which the children skate and sledge on the frozen lake and plan an expedition to the “North Pole”.

The event has been organised by the team that previously held marathon readings of Swallows and Amazons on the shore of Coniston, and Pigeon Post at the YHA Coppermines hostel.

During lockdown last year they created an online marathon reading of another Ransome story, The Picts and the Martyrs.

Reading Swallows and Amazons

The Jetty Museum holds a number of exhibits relating to Ransome’s work, including the steamship Esperance, currently under renovation, which was the author’s inspiration for Captain Flint’s houseboat in the stories.

“It’s an ideal location for the reading of this story,” said organiser Chris Routledge. “We couldn’t get any closer to the shore of the lake where the story is set and we are really grateful to Lakeland Arts for hosting us here. Though it’s probably unlikely that Windermere will freeze over to provide the perfect setting.”

Windermere Jetty Museum

He added: “This is a wonderful tale of frozen wastes, icebound ships, seals and explorers. The Swallows, the Amazons, and the D’s plan to set out for the North Pole, in the footsteps of Nansen and Peary. Of course nothing goes quite as planned, but as always turns out better than expected.”

Previous marathons have attracted readers who included actors from both film versions of Swallows and Amazons, writers, broadcasters, and Ransome fans of all ages. There’s still a few chapters to be allocated so if you’d like to take part, fill in the form at https://ifnotduffers.org/winter-holiday/  The event, supported by the Arthur Ransome Society,  takes place on Sunday January 30.

Adventure time in the garden of Eden

A family-friendly weekend festival of music, activities and adventure returns to the banks of the River Eden next summer.

The Eden Escape Festival will be held at Mains Farm, Kirkoswald, in the northern Lake District at the end of May.

Staged at a farm camp site which already has pods, tipis and bunk rooms for hire, 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.

There’s lots of activities on offer including fitness classes for all levels and abilities, yoga workshops, massage therapies, adventure films, music, campfires, swimming in the river, street food and a market-place.

There’s a big barn for music, and films to be shown by Kendal Mountain Festival as well as inspirational speakers, a host of skills workshops such as night navigation  and map reading , Nordic walking, and a lots of activities for children.

Accommodation can be booked in the pods, tipis and bunk-rooms, but visitors can also bring their own tents and campervans and there are plenty of hot showers. Onsite catering is provided by local food outlets, and there’s a bar.

As well as a weekend full of outdoor activities the organisers, Fox Red events, also promise a chance to get your dancing shoes on with a 80’s theme party on Saturday night.

“We want to show that you can have an adventure without doing something extreme, like going off to climb Kilimanjaro,” said co-organiser Wiz Lees, who is a personal trainer and fitness instructor. ‘’We want to give you a taster of some of the awesome things that are available to you, right on your doorstep’’.  She and Leigh-Ann Newburn staged the festival initially in 2019, but had to cancel last summer because of the pandemic. 

“Making an adventure can be something you can do without having to travel far. This is beautiful countryside, with the chance to have mini-adventures, learn something new – or just chill out for the whole weekend.”

The dates are May 27-29 and bookings can be made now at https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

The power of parkrun

By EILEEN JONES

IMAGINE going for your first ever trail run in the Lake District. Now imagine that you’re going for your first ever trail run, and you can’t see anything.

Dave Williams, a parkrunner and marathon runner, is blind, and has just experienced trail running for the first time, on the slopes of the Old Man of Coniston.

This is a story of determination, of overcoming life’s challenges, and believing that you can do something, and it’s here for the telling thanks to parkrun.

Dave, who lives in Worcester, has done 60 parkruns at 20 different venues, but hasn’t seen any of them. Dave was born with Leber Congenital Amaurosis, which causes sight loss at birth. I heard about him when researching my book about parkrun*; his father, Gwilym, is a member of my club, Clayton le Moors Harriers, now living in Austria, and a close friend of the husband of my running buddy, Judy Sharples.

I heard Dave’s story, and wrote about it, loving his enthusiasm and self-deprecation (his regular guide runner, Bex, is dyspraxic and can’t always tell right from left “so between us, we manage somehow!”) and when the book came out Dave bought a copy for his family. But he couldn’t read it himself, of course, and asked if there was an audio version.

That was something I’d not considered, but contacted the RNIB (Royal National Institute for Blind People), where Dave works, and arranged for a friend, Wayne Singleton – who has the know-how and access to the technical kit  – to read the book, record it, and supply the audio files to the RNIB library. From where Dave has recently borrowed it and listened to the whole book.

Then Dave said that he and his family were coming on holiday to Coniston and he asked if we could meet, and also asked if I knew anybody who could take him for a guided run as he’d always wanted to try trail-running. The multi-talented Wayne (who also has a business, The Running Concierge**, arranging trail and fell-running mini-breaks and holidays in the Lakes) is also a qualified running coach, and has experience of guide-running.

And that’s how, on a baking hot morning, Dave Williams had a taste of trail-running in the heart of Lakeland mountain country, with the man who had read the parkrun book to him. He and Wayne ran (and, wisely, sometimes walked) up the side of Church Beck, past the Coppermines Youth Hostel, and into the wilderness of Boulder Valley.

He saw nothing of it, of course, but heard the beck and the waterfalls and the cry of the buzzard overhead. He heard – from the best of all guides – the history of copper-mining in the area, and how in recent times water-power has been harnessed to create electricity, and how the top fell-runners come tumbling down these hillsides at break-neck speed.

For Dave it was a morning he’ll never forget. “I’m a road runner, I’m used to listening out for traffic, and being told where there’s a pavement step. I thought the hardest part would be the heat, and the steepness of the hills, but it was the terrain under foot that was the toughest.”

Dave told Wayne: “‘You can take what you’re given, and survive, and be happy with that, or you can work at it. There are blind lawyers and doctors. Don’t let it be a barrier.”

For Wayne it was a humbling experience. “It’s amazing to be trusted to guide someone with a visual impairment, and presents all sorts of challenges that I wouldn’t normally think of. There’s a constant commentary to ensure that Dave didn’t trip or stumble, as well as making sure he didn’t get branches in his face. It’s awesome to be able to try and describe our scenery to someone, in an appropriate richness, to enable them to ‘see’ through words. It’s also interesting to learn about vertigo from the perception of a person who can’t see the drop. It presented me with equal amounts of joy, terror and glee to have the responsibility of guiding Dave today, and it was topped off by being introduced to his family, and sharing a paddle in Coniston after our run.”

And for this experience, for this meeting, for this connection: the power of parkrun. It really does change lives.

*How parkrun changed our lives (https://gritstonecoop.co.uk/product/how-parkrun-changed-our-lives/)

** https://www.runningconcierge.co.uk/

Welcome to the Running Concierge

A new service for city-based runners to have a taste of Lakeland trails is launching in Cumbria.

The Running Concierge is a new concept in the UK, offering busy people with demanding jobs the chance to have a running weekend in the Lakes organised entirely for them.

It’s being led by UK Athletics coach Wayne Singleton who has just hosted his first visitors on a bespoke run-centred visit to the Lakes.

“If you’ve watched running coach and social media star Ben Parkes in action, you’ll know the feeling,” says Wayne. “Ben’s a fit guy with a marathon best time of 2.25 but in one of his videos, he’s racing in the Alps and recognising that as a Londoner he doesn’t have the climbing – or descending – in his legs.

Wayne Singleton

“We know there are runners who long to experience the trails and fells here, but don’t have the time to plan, and don’t know where to start.”

The Running Concierge arranges everything, meeting the train from London Euston or elsewhere to Oxenholme, taking guests to a hotel booked for them, and taking them on guided runs in the South Lakes area, including an ascent of Loughrigg fell.

There’s also the chance to add a cultural dimension to the weekend with a visit to Rydal Mount, home of the poet William Wordsworth. The Concierge recommends restaurants near where the visitors are staying, and can even book tables for dinner, if it’s not provided at their hotel.

The running concierge concept exists elsewhere but on a smaller scale. Hotels in Chicago and Moscow, for example, offer running tours of the city for their guests. And at the Ritz-Carlton, Vienna “guests can enjoy a smooth run throughout the area, with the hotel’s Running Concierge, who is not only a brilliant jogging partner, but also a fantastic guide to the Imperial city, with incredible insight and stories to tell.”

Wayne says: “We’ve taken that idea and developed it into an entire weekend break with trail or fell-running at its heart. We can take runners of all abilities and levels of fitness, and we can tailor route choices and distances to suit our visitors.”

A weekend break might start with a run or walk up Orrest Head on the Friday night; Saturday might be a combined run and sail on one of the steamers on Windermere or Ullswater; and Sunday could be a fell-run taster, followed by cream tea at Rydal Mount. Hotels range from the Burn How at Bowness to b&bs in the Windermere and Ambleside areas. “Our visitors will be in the heart of the Lakes and because we are local experts, not a moment of their weekend will be wasted,” says Wayne.

Richard Askwith, who wrote the best-selling book about his attempts to complete the Bob Graham round, Feet in the Clouds, was based in London throughout his time training for that. He says: “It’s certainly a challenge training for the fells when you’re based in London. But it can be done. I did it for years, and I even got quite good at it for a while. There really aren’t many better ways of motivating yourself than thinking about your next run in the Lake District.”

The Running Concierge with Mathew and Tayler on the summit of Loughrigg

Mathew and Tayler Carver spent three days on their first-ever visit to the Lakes organised by The Running Concierge. The couple, who run a chain of cheese restaurants, the Cheese Bar and the Cheese Barge, and a cheese shop London, stayed in Windermere and were taken on guided trail and fell runs, fell walks, and a swim in the lake with Wayne.

“It was really relaxing to have everything taken care of,” said Mathew. “If you are time-pressured as we are, it’s difficult to make plans about where to go and where to stay.”

Tayler said: “We could have come here on our own but not known where to go and wasted time on such a short visit. It was good to have expert advice and local knowledge, so we’ve learned much more about the Lake District.”

For more details: https://www.runningconcierge.co.uk/

Winding down after their run: Mathew and Tayler visiting Wordsworth’s house at Rydal Mount

Full steam ahead for Lakes runners

Runners have kept their passion for events in the Lake District in spite of lockdown, according to a new survey.

They have been training hard and planning for the time when races and fun runs can start again.

The survey was carried out by Kendal-based Jogging Pals who have been coaching and inspiring everyone from beginners to ultra runners for a number of years.

When lockdown forced the cancellation of trail races and other events planned for the spring and summer, Jogging Pals director Wayne Singleton took the opportunity to find out what runners really wanted in the future.

The survey, published via social media, attracted hundreds of responses from around the country. “It proved that there’s great enthusiasm for the Lakes as a centre for all kinds of running, not just the ultra-endurance efforts we’ve seen this summer,” said Wayne, a UK Athletics coach.

As a result, his team is working on plans for some unusual running events, which will include sailing some of the most iconic Lakes as well – and taking a ride on a steam train. RunSteamRun will launch next month and the date will be announced shortly.

lakeshore runners

Wayne also found a lot of affection for the Lake District among the parkrunning community; Cumbria has a dozen regular parkruns which attract runners of all abilities.

“Our runners want us to provide real Lakeland experiences for them, not just races,” said Wayne. “And they show a real spirit of adventure too – many of them would like us to organise trips to running events throughout Europe.”

One who took part in the survey was the lucky winner of a £100 voucher to spend at running specialists Pete Bland Sports. The winning name was pulled out of a hat – literally – by Wayne when the survey closed.

Wayne draws the winning ticket

“We are really pleased to see that runners have found the motivation to carry on training,” Wayne said. “Now we are listening to their requests and will organise some special events as soon as we are allowed.”

 

Lakes hotelier joins the national judges

Windermere hotelier Jonathan Kaye joined the judging panel for the hospitality industry’s top award event in London.

Jonathan was invited to be a judge at the Hotel Catey Awards at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London. The presentation dinner was attended by 750 guests, representing the best of the British hotel industry. Jonathan was there with his wife, Caroline.

The Cedar Manor has regularly featured in the finals, and last year was judged to be the UK’s top hotel in the sustainability category.

Since they started in 1984 the Cateys have become established as a celebration of UK hospitality, showcasing innovative brands and trail-blazing individuals who are nominated, selected and rewarded by their peers.

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye

Jonathan said: “It was a great honour to be asked to join the judging panel after Caroline and I have attended many ceremonies as finalists and guests. The UK has the best hotels in all the world, and our association with the Cateys has helped us develop and improve our own hotel to be a world class establishment in the Lake District.”

 

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 bookings@elterwaterhostel.co.uk for more details.