Tag Archives: kendal
April 4, 2017

A fabulous night to remember at Cumbria Family Business Awards

Sue Coulson, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton - Cumbria Family Business Awards

CFBA organisers Sue Coulson, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton – photo Victoria Sedgewick

‘I gotta feeling’ by the Black-Eyed Peas rocked out from the speakers as Sue Coulson, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton stepped onto the stage to announce the start of the very first Cumbria Family Business Awards. Sue, whose company, Coulson Associates was one of the CFBA  sponsors, Janett and Sophia had worked tirelessly for many months in the run-up to the ceremony in March 201 7.  “From over 100 applications we had to whittle it down to about 30 finalists. The judging panel really had their work cut out!”  The tone for the evening was set as they held up the ‘Wrong Envelope‘; a reference to the recent Oscars fiasco when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty read out the wrong name of the Best Picture winner!

Cumbria Family Business Awards - the Wrong Envelope

Sue, Janett and Sophia with the ‘Wrong Envelope’

An audience of 250 people, including the finalists, their families and friends plus sponsors, judges and the media, enjoyed a fabulous evening with delicious food, plenty of drink and a fair smattering of gossip. As Sister Sledge belted out ‘We are Family’ the celebrity host stepped up to the mike …

Cumbria Family Business Awards 2017

Dave Myers opens Cumbria Family Business Awards

Dave Myers introduces the finalists

Let’s face it, you don’t choose to have a business in Cumbria to make millions. You do it because it’s a great place to live and work.” So said TV chef Dave Myers as he opened this glittering event at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal on the edge of the Lake District. All the businesses nominated for the Cumbria Family Business Awards are family-run, and many have links with the area going back for generations. Some could move away from the area and probably be more profitable, but choose to stay in and around the Lake District because of its inspirational landscape and local links. There were 12 categories plus Ones to Watch. Finalists included well-known names such as Hawkshead Relish, English Lakes Hotels and The Herdy Company as well as lesser-known but equally significant business including The Churchmouse in Barbon, West Coast Composting and JB Banks, as small ironmongers in Cockermouth. Winners included Zeffirelli’s Restaurant and Cinema (Food & Drink Establishments), PHX Training Providers (Professional Business Services), Sally’s Cottages (Smalle Leisure and Tourism Business) and Bells of Lazonby who won Food and Drink Producers AND Outstanding Cumbrian Family Business of the Year.

Winners Cumbria Family Business Awards 2017

Zeffirellis, PHX Training, Sally’s Cottages and Bells of Lazenby

The beautiful glass awards were made by local artist Jo Vincent, ‘…. designed to reflect the intimate relationship between family businesses and Cumbria.’  The ‘star prize’ was an enormous ceramic bowl, created by Siobhan Newton. ‘It combines three iconic Cumbria materials: Egremont Haematite, Coniston Slate and Shap Granite – along with Cumbrian rainwater!‘ Full list of the Winners of Cumbria Family Business Awards here. I was seated on the Lamont Pridmore table, main sponsors of the event, along with Bells of Lazonby, who were clearly overwhelmed at winning both their category and the overall award. “It’s such a great honour. We really had no idea we’d win, especially against such strong finalists.”

Cumbria Family Business Awards Dinner - Castle Green Hotel Kendal

Dinner at Castle Green Hotel

Earlier, as guests arrived, a welcoming Drinks Reception Market served up sparkling wine and got us all in the mood. Photographer Victoria Sedgwick had us all posing for glitterati photos and Castle Green Hotel did us proud on the hospitality front.  We ate very well on local produce that night. I had Cartmel Valley smoked salmon, smoked salmon rillette, beetroot, horseradish and rye bread, followed by Eden Valley chicken, fondant potato, shallots, wild mushrooms and broad beans, finished off with delicious Windermere Ice Cream and Grasmere Gingerbread. All served with excellent wines – thank you Graham Lamont! Every table had Wax Lyrical candles, bottles of Hawkshead Relish’s new product, Black Garlic Ketchup, prints by artist Daniel Cooper and also signed copies of books by Cumbrian authors to take home. I chose Dances with the Daffodils by Matthew Connolly.

Paula Scott, Sue Coulson and Zoe Dawes at Cumbria Family Business Awards

Paula Scott, Sue Coulson and Zoe Dawes at CFBA Awards – photo Victoria Sedgwick

Dave Myers was an excellent host, bringing his inimitable humour and a local awareness that was much appreciated by everyone. He stayed on until every award had been given, every hand had been shaken and every selfie had been taken. A real gent and a great Barrovian ambassador. This photo of the winners sums up a great evening of fun and laughter, business excellence and Cumbrian friendliness.

Cumbria Family Business Awards winners 2017

Cumbria Family Business Awards winners 2017

Many thanks to Sue Coulson of Coulson Associates, Janett Walker of Make it Happen and Sophia Newton, The Good News Girl for inviting me join in such a wonderful celebration. More CFBA photos by Victoria Sedgwick here.

Castle Green Hotel

I stayed overnight in the Castle Green Hotel, a four star hotel on the outskirts of Kendal, in one of their very luxurious Executive Bedrooms, complete with a huge four-poster bed. See what the room really looks like; watch this short video recorded on my arrival, before the CFBA evening started.

For many years I was a member of the hotel’s excellent gym; use of their Health and Fitness Club with swimming pool and spa was included in my stay. Breakfast was delicious and I was pleased to see local produce including Hawkshead Relish sauces, Cumberland Sausage, Lakeland Mues muesli, organic milk and bread from More Bakery in Staveley.

Breakfast Castle Green Hotel Kendal

Breakfast at Castle Green Hotel

Find out more about Cumbria Family Business Awards and Cumbria Family Business Network here.

January 3, 2017

Exploring Kendal Castle on a sunny Cumbria day

Kendal Castle - Manor Hall

Kendal Castle – Manor Hall

The kite’s red wings rattled noisily as it soared higher and higher over Kendal Castle into the clear blue sky, its string held firmly by a guy in a big puffa jacket. “Can I hold it, Dad? Please, can I?” begged the young girl beside him. “OK, but you must wrap it round your hand REALLY tight.” An anxious few moments as he transferred the string in a complicated manoeuvre to her small fist. She squealed with delight as she felt the kite’s impatient tug as it swooped and flipped in the chilly breeze, silhouetted against the afternoon sun.

Kendal Castle and kite Cumbria - photo zoedawes

Kendal Castle and kite

It was New Year’s Day and perfect weather for a walk to blow away last year’s cobwebs and overindulgence from the night before. Having just had lunch with my aunt and uncle, who live in the town, I’d come up to Kendal Castle for some fresh air.

Kendal Town and River Kent from Kendal Castle - photo zoedawes

Kendal Town and River Kent

Kendal town spreads out towards the Lake District fells (hills), the River Kent flowing gently towards the coast. Hard to believe that a year ago it burst its banks in one of the worst storms we’ve had for years, flooding houses and businesses, causing huge damage and many to be homeless for far too long. I wandered over to the ruins of the medieval Manor Hall; children were scrambling over the walls and chasing each other around the lower vaults.

Playing at Kendal Castle Cumbria - photo zoedawes

Children at Kendal Castle

Kendal Castle was probably built in the late 12th century as a fortified home for the Barons of Kendal. It was sold to the Parr family a few hundred years later. Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr was once thought to have been born here, but as the castle was already in disrepair in the 1500s that’s not likely. The Manor Hall and the North West Tower (originally called the Troutbeck Tower) plus a couple of underground cellars and walls the courtyard and moat. are all that’s left now. Throughout the site there are information boards telling the history of the castle and illustrating what it might have looked like when it was the inhabited.

Kendal Castle Tower and view Cumbria

Kendal Castle Tower and view

The wind was cold but the sunshine brightened up the day. New Year’s a time for reflection, looking back as well as forward. I thought of all the amazing places I’d been lucky enough to visit over the past 12 months. Highlights included having a female gorilla in Rwanda walk over my feet, clambering across the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, feeding flamingos on Aruba in the Caribbean, driving through the Rockies on a Canadian road trip and finding the quirky quokka in Western Australia. However, I always love coming back home and on the first day of a new year, this is exactly where I wanted to be …

Kendal Castle and Tower

Kendal Castle and Tower

Sitting on a wall beside the tower were two young girls, oblivious to everything but their conversation. I thought of all the dramatic changes in the past year, the famous people, part of the fabric of our growing up, who’d died, and the major shifts in world power. The future is always unclear, but this new year brings greater uncertainly than for many a long time. The future is in the hands of these youngsters; we owe it to them not to mess up the present …

Sitting on Kendal Castle walls

On Kendal Castle walls

As I wandered back down the hill, a woman in an electric wheelchair zoomed past, her scarf rippling out behind her. She waved and said, “Gorgeous day isn’t it! Makes you happy to be alive.” It was and it did …

For lots more really useful information on arts and culture, heritage, shopping, activities and much more, check out Visit Kendal.

Kendal Castle Video


February 16, 2016

Tasty fun at Kendal Festival of Food

Kendal Food and Drink Festival 16

“We’re so excited. This year’s food and drink festival is jam-packed with sensational and varied food producers, chefs, street entertainment, master classes, cookery demos and unusual events. There really is something for everyone, whatever age and whatever foodie preference.” Cath Dutton, founder of Kendal Festival of Food is speaking in her office, surrounded by boxes of brochures, flyers and wrist-bands. She’s been working 24/7 with Stacy Hurley to get this annual feast organized. “The awful floods of late 2015 devastated Cumbria, but we have a resilient spirit and Kendal Food Festival 2016 celebrates that, as well as the phenomenal food and drink that the North of England is famous for.”

Lovingly Artisan sourdough baking demo at Kendal Food festival

Lovingly Artisan sourdough bread demo

Kendal Food Festival 2016 is in its 7th year; I’ve been coming for 5 years and it just gets better and better, whilst still retaining its original ethos of showcasing local food and drink producers and talent. Some of the highlights I’ve especially enjoyed from previous years include The Fabulous Baker Brothers, who did a hilarious cookery demo double act, Smoky Jo’s introduction to smoking food at home and Aiden Monks’ Lovingly Artisan sourdough bread masterclass. Smoky Jo’s are back this year in the Best Of Cumbria Theatre in Kendal Town Hall.

Andy Swinscoe cheese demo Kendal Food Festival - photo zoedawes

Andy Swinscoe cheese demo

Throughout the weekend of March 12th and 13th 2016, there will a veritable cornucopia of events. Looking through the Kendal Food Festival brochure I’m hoping to attend The Best in Northern Cheese with Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy and Cooking with Duck with Chris O’Callaghan of Linthwaite House. He’s going to be using a famous local speciality, Grasmere gingerbread in his demo. Mike Bevans, owner of the hotel said, “I’m delighted we can support the festival. It’s a great opportunity for Chris to showcase his talents and it will also hopefully inspire budding chefs and create positive publicity for this area.”

Wild boar stall - Kendal Food Festival

Wild Boar stall

As a blogger with a strong interest in cuisine in the UK and around the world, I often take photographs of food and drink in markets, during meals and at cookery lessons. I’m sure to pick up some useful tips at the Food Photography workshop with Jenny Heyworth from Aspire Photography. Catherine Connor, MD of Aspire told me how thrilled she is to be attending this year’s festival. “It’s a fabulous foodie event and brilliant that it’s in our own backyard. It attracts hundreds of photographers, bloggers, journalists, families, celebrities and food lovers, not just from Cumbria and the North West, but around the country. We’re proud to be a part of this increasingly popular festival.”

Kendal Food Festival stall - zoedawes

Local honey

NEW for this year is the Edible Garden at Wainwright’s Yard, where we can learn more about growing our own fruit and vegetables as well as food for health and well-being. The Family Festival Village returns with some fun events for children, including Sculpting with Ice Cream, Create a Cress Head and the Kidz Kitchen. Join the battle of the bakers at the Bring a Bake competition in the AGA showroom and watch out for the Strolling Gardeners, the Farm to Fork Roadshow (there will be lambs!) and the Festival Jester demonstrating his circus skills out and about.

Cumbrian lamb

Hold at lamb at Kendal Food Festival

Of course, the festival is renowned for the many stalls that line the streets of Kendal town centre, selling everything from scrumptious bakes and chocolate treats to artisan breads, organic meat and poultry, regional cheeses, craft beers and spirits, tasty preserves and oh, loads more. Marian Graveson, of Blue Moose Kitchen, says, “This will be my third year at Kendal Food Festival and it really is one of the best festivals in the country. There are lots of reasons why I love this weekend: we always have fun, even if the wind is blustering the stall down the street!

Blue Moose Kitchen Brownies

“It’s very well-organised and there is so much to see and do. I’ll be selling everything from Gingerbread Men kits, cookie mixes and 5 varieties of brownie mixes, including local favourite Kendal Mintcake.  Then there’s the Hot Chocolate. I’ll be giving out samples of my handmade mix during the festival; perfect if the weather is a bit chilly.”

Blue Moose Kitchen baking kits

Blue Moose Kitchen baking kits

The other BIG attraction is Northern Spirit on Saturday night. The brochure invites visitors to, ‘Join us for a celebration of some of the region’s very best spirits; sample a selection of regionally crafted vodkas and gins as well as some of Scotland’s best whiskies.’ Looks like a great way to celebrate a weekend of superb food, drink and much, much more.

The Lakes Vodka - Kendal Food Festival - zoedawes

The Lakes Vodka

Whatever the weather there’s always something to see, do, eat and drink at Kendal Food Festival.

Kendal Food Festival

Read more Food and Drink articles

5 ways to use Black Garlic Ketchup

The perfect pancake recipe – from my Mum

Top tips for eating and drinking in Rome

July 22, 2014

See The Quaker Tapestry in all its glory

The Quaker Tapestry is a modern day masterpiece of story-telling in stitches.  

Elizabeth_Fry The Quaker Tapestry in Kendal

Elizabeth Fry

It’s also one of the largest and most significant, imaginative and collaborative community textile projects in the world. Its 77 panels made by 4,000 people from 15 countries celebrate life, people, such as famous Quakers Elizabeth Fry and Mary Fisher and important events across the centuries.

Mary Fisher - Quaker Tapestry, Kendal UK

Mary Fisher

It began in 1981.  It was Jonathan's fault.  He was 11 years old when he asked his Sunday school teacher if he could make a tapestry instead of colouring in!  Soon the children were having far too much fun so the adults joined in. During the production over 4,000 men, women and children in 15 countries took part and in 1996 it was finished.  A home was found for it in Kendal, an attractive market town in Cumbria, on the edge of the Lake District.

The Quaker Tapestry House, Kendal, Cumbria UK

The Quaker Tapestry House

The Quaker Tapestry stories show the industrial revolution, developments in science and medicine, astronomy, the abolition of slavery, social reform, and ecology, not to mention the famous three-wheels-on-my-waggon story of the banker Jonathan Backhouse.

Quaker Tapestry ship, Kendal, UK

Quaker Tapestry ship

A versatile new stitch, the ‘Quaker stitch',was created,  to add a three-dimensional look to the lettering.  â€œIt looks impressive but it's easy,” says Bridget Guest, manager of The Quaker Tapestry in Kendal and one of the embroidery teachers. “The techniques and embroidery stitches were designed specifically to enable everyone who wanted to join in with the creativity, to do so!” Contributions came from around the world making it one of the biggest community projects ever.  Ok – the Great Wall of China tops it.  And the pyramids. But they were made to do it. Definitely No Porridge!  By the way, Quakers are nothing to do with Quaker Oats, so there are no tales of porridge but plenty about chocolate … Discover how jury rights were established, who built the iron bridge, listen to the audio guides, watch the films, and explore the interactive display.

Visit the Quaker Tapestry Kendal

Visit the Quaker Tapestry

The unique Quaker Tapestry was in Bath from 2-16 August 2014 at a FREE exhibition. Fifteen of the award-winning panels were on display at Bath Meeting House and Bath Abbey.  You can see it in its main home in Kendal (February-December)  

This article is brought to you by The Quaker Tapestry Click the link for lots more information on this fascinating artwork.

June 3, 2014

Postman Pat returns home to Kendal

OK, I’d better fess up straight away. I was at the Gala Premiere of  ‘Postman Pat: The Movie’ at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, in the midst of a horde of tiny tots straining their little necks to get a glimpse of an enormous figure in a (glitzy?) blue uniform holding tight to a black and white cat, whilst chatting to an elderly man who today was mostly wearing ‘shabby-chic’.  BUT I wasn’t really here to see them …

Postman Pat meets John Cunliffe at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre

Postman Pat meets John Cunliffe

Postman Pat had returned to Kendal, in Cumbria, NW England and was meeting his creator, John Cunliffe, who wrote the whimsical tales when he was a teacher at Castle Park Primary School.  Set in fictional ‘Greendale Valley’ the area is actually based on Longsleddale, near Kendal, right on the edge of the beautiful Lake District.  However, dear reader, if you look very carefully at the guy with his back to us, half-hidden between these two figures, you will discover the REAL reason I was here.  You see, the cartoon film is voiced by some very well-known names, including David Tennant, Jim Broadbent, Rupert Grint  and Ronan Keating, but the main attraction for me, and many others at this launch, was gorgeous, quirky, floppy-haired Stephen Mangan, who IS Postman Pat.

Stephen Mangan at launch of Postman Pat: The Movie, Kendal Brewery Arts Centre. Photo by Zoe Dawes

Stephen Mangan at launch of Postman Pat: The Movie

Yes, this charming, funny, slightly geeky in a sexy way, Hollywood movie star actor had come all the way to the ‘Auld Grey Toon’ to share in the fun that was this very English film premiere.   I got right up close to him – and he’s a lovely in the flesh as he is on screen!  He spent absolutely ages with the audience, many of whom I suspect shared my own ‘interest’ in him, though of course there were loads of kiddies who had no idea who he was, and were most definitely there to see PP and Jess.  He happily signed autographs, posed for photos and chatted with all and sundry.

Stephen Mangan signs autographs at launch of Postman Pat: Th emovie, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Stephen Mangan signing autographs

One teenage boy nearly fainted with delight when the actor signed his shirt.  “Oh my God. Stephen Mangan’s signed my shirt. I can die happy!”

Stephen Mangan signing fan's shirt at Postman Pat: The Movie premiere Kendal - photo Zoe Dawes

Stephen Mangan signing fan’s shirt

I always enjoy going to the Brewery Arts Centre. It’s a  magnet for the creative arts and has a really varied programme throughout the year.  The Freerange Comedy Festival, Kendal Beer Festival, the Mountain Fest and a wide range of live performances, from their very popular Youth Arts group, dance, adult education classes,  comedy, music plus a great cafe, bar and restaurant ensure its popularity with all ages.

Brewery Arts Centre Kendal

Brewery Arts Centre Kendal

Author John Cunliffe was being interviewed by the press, national as well as local, including the BBC.  He seemed delighted to be here and pointed up to the Brewery Bar saying,, “That’s where I used to write my stories.  It’s bringing back lots of memories.”  When asked what he thought about a movie being made of his most popular characters, he replied, “It’s great.  I hope a new generation of children get to love him all over again.”   John Cunliffe also wrote delightful ‘Rosie and Jim’.  The stories were made into a a very popular TV series, set on a real canal boat and he appeared in the series too.

John Cunliffe author of Postman Pat at the movie premiere Kendal Brewery Arts Centre. Photo Zoe Dawes

John Cunliffe

I managed to grab a quick word with Kendal’s Mayor, Sylvia Emmott, who was introducing the film. “I’m so proud of the Brewery for hosting this film premiere. It’s lovely to see John Cunliffe returning with Postman Pat and so many people coming along on this sunny day.  When we get a star like Stephen Mangan to visit it’s a real treat and  we can showcase what a great place Kendal is.”

Kendal Mayor at Postman Pat movie premiere - photo Zoe Dawes

Kendal Mayor at Postman Pat movie premiere

It was being shown in the Brewery Cinema and we were all given a goodie bag which I was delighted to see had a big bag of toffee popcorn – my favourite cinema treat.  After the Mayor had a few words she introduced Stephen Mangan to the audience who said how delighted he was to be in Kendal and to meet John Cunliffe, who was in the audience.  Then Postman Pat came on, to great applause, whoops and cheers from the audience.

Postman Pat and Stephen Mangan at fiolm premiere Kendal - photo Zoe Dawes

Two superstars – Postman Pat and Stephen Mangan

The film was a bit disappointing for me, but then I am ever so slightly over the target audience age.  But I am not sure it knows quite what its audience age is …  My son used to love the books and TV series with the cast of loveable characters.  Many of them, including Mrs Goggins the postmistress, PC Selby, Major Forbes, the farmer and others appear but so does a wicked new boss, an obnoxious TV Talent Show host called Simon Cowbell, a host of scary Patbot 3000′ robots and terrifying metallic cat called ‘Jess’.  Imagine iRobot crossed with Wallace and Gromit’s ‘The Wrong Trousers’ crossed with X-Factor and you get the idea.

Postman Pat Robot 'Patbot 3000' from the movie

‘Patbot 3000’

The majority of the very young members of the audience seemed rather scared and the parents vaguely distressed that this charming tale has been hijacked by script writers who felt the need to take a simple tale of country folk and give it a 21st century spin.  However, I expect children,  above toddler age will think it’s great …

As I left the Cinema the image that stayed with me was of John Cunliffe waving goodbye to his most famous creation.  Whatever he made of the film, I am sure he enjoyed the premiere and the affection that was shown to him by everyone there.

John Cunliffe waves goodbye to Postman Pat

Oh, and if you are a fan of Stephen Mangan, you can him in Episodes on BBC at the moment 🙂

May 4, 2013

Challenge Zoe – Blissed out at Bellissimo Beauty Salon

In the fifth of the ‘Challenge Zoë’ activities for The Kendal Courier  I had an extremely indulgent pampering session at local Bellissimo Beauty Salon Here’s a version of the original article that appeared in the magazine.

Now you may be wondering quite how such an ‘adventure’ could possibly come under the title Challenge Zoë.  Well, let’s just say I find it very difficult to justify spending time on myself when I ‘should’ be working, looking after my son, planning the next article and fretting about not doing the housework.  So when The Kendal Courier Editor Dan asked if I’d like to try out have a couple of beauty treatments for my next assignment, I was round there before you could say ‘aromatherapy massage’ …

Bellissimo Nail & Beauty Salon, Kendal

Situated on Stramongate in the heart of Kendal, Bellissimo Beauty Studio owner Sue Nicholson immediately made me feel welcome, with a friendly smile and offer of tea or coffee.  (Unlike some places where you feel as you’re being assessed the minute you walk through the door.)  I loved the contemporary black and white decor and spacious  reception – calming with a hint of luxury.   After I had filled in a rather lengthy questionnaire on my current health and beauty regime (what?!) beauty therapist Fiona took me downstairs to the treatment room.

Bellissimo Therapy Room

There followed the most heavenly two hours of luxurious relaxation and rejuvenation I have had in a very long time.  Fiona explained the treatment I had booked – the Indulgent Beauty Package (£72).  First she was going to give me a head, shoulders and back massage and asked how I liked it – firm, medium or strong.  Medium/strong please.  Then she’d apply Aroma Boost facial using Eve Taylor products.  “I’ll start with a purifying wash using a special cleansing brush, then a deep cleanse followed by exfoliant, accompanied by arm and hand massage.  I’ll apply a soothing aromatic masque and whilst that’s taking effect I’ll give you a leg and foot massage.  Finally you’ll have a moisturiser to suit your skin type followed by a spritz of toner to seal all products onto the skin.” It all sounded good to me so I lay back and put myself in her very capable and soothing hands. 

Relax at BellissimoI really appreciated that she didn’t talk during the session so I could totally unwind with just background music as accompaniment.  The massage was extremely effective and managed to unravel some of the knots caused by spending too much time in front of the computer.  The delicious scents from the facial made me feel nice and relaxed; as you can see from the picture above I almost dozed off during it.  After that treatment I had a quick pedicure, choosing a vibrant shade of pillar box red nail varnish to celebrate the new me.

Fiona pedicure at Bellissimo Beauty Salon, Kendal

I floated out of Bellissimo Beauty Salon feeling totally refreshed, vowing not to leave it too long before I was ‘challenged’ like this again!

Read about my next Challenge – in an electric car called The Twizy at the Langdale Hotel – great fun 🙂

September 6, 2012

Challenge Zoe: Conquering a Lakeland Climbing Wall

For the 3rd of the Challenge Zoë activities for Cumbria magazine The Kendal Courier, I was invited to tackle a climbing wall.  Although I live near some of the best mountaineering sites in the country, I’d only tried climbing once before and am a bit nervous of heights. So, with a touch of trepidation, one wet afternoon my teenage son and I went off to the Lakeland Climbing Centre.  Here’s how I got on …

Climbing up

After an explanation of the different climbing experiences the centre offers and a thorough safety briefing, professional instructor Dez helped with putting on the harness and helmet, then took me to the Bouldering Wall.  By the time I was half way round the low level wall, going crabwise hand over hand, I was already feeling a strain in my legs and arms.  What a great workout!  However, I was aware I needed to save my energy for the real purpose of my visit – to get to the top of at least one of the Climbing Centre walls.

We moved on to the first of the novice walls in The Den, perfect for beginners and children.  Dez was very encouraging and made sure I took it at a pace that suited me.  I followed his  instructions, didn’t look down and made it to the top in a few minutes.  Yesss!  What a great sense of achievement; even though I was only a few metres off the ground I felt as if I’d conquered Scafell Pike.  Then it was that act of faith you have to make as you abseil back down.  Loved that bit …


With this success I decided to have a go at the next level in the Main Hall – and this is where, unfortunately, a foot injury I’d got some time before, suddenly started playing up.  I tried for a few metres but sadly had to admit defeat and come back down.  Now the climbing baton was handed over to my son.

Safety breifing

Dez took Alex through the same safety briefing and then he set off up the wall, easily finding foot and hand holds as he zigzagged upwards.  He was a natural; shot up that wall like a lemur on speed.   Next Dez coached him up ‘King Kong’, a monster of a wall; at 18m a complicated route up with an overhang at the start to challenge even quite experienced climbers.  Opposite is their 25 metre wall, the highest in England, which gives experienced climbers the chance to hone a wide variety of skills in a safe -and dry – environment.   In spite of having already climbed three walls, Alex made it to the top and was really delighted with his success in such a short time.

At the end of our session we relaxed in the newly opened Creamery Cafe area with a cuppa and well-deserved brownie.  The centre was completely refurbished and extended recently and has some of the best facilities in the country.  Alex was really chuffed that he’d conquered the King Kong wall and I was pleased to have overcome my trepidation and faced yet another fun challenge.

For more information on climbing and to book a session, visit The Lakeland Climbing Centre.  Read about my previous two challenges for The Kendal Courier; Tank Driving at Holmescales Activity Centre and Learning to Play Golf at Carus Green.