My name is Jessie Binns and I am doing the guest post this week. I’ve worked in the Lakes for 6 years now with the National Trust, and one of the highlights of my year each year is the Keswick Mountain Festival.
This year the National Trust was nominated as the official supported charity for the festival for the second year running. They have thousands of people entering the running, cycling and swimming races (which mostly take place on fells and in lakes that we care for around Keswick).
What we help them with is making sure that the families who come onto the ‘Festival Village’ on our Crow Park at Keswick also have a really good time.
When I was talking with the Lakes rangers about what we should do on the National Trust stand this year, they started talking about a really inspirational film they’d seen at our ‘Outdoor Conference’ last October. Project Wild Thing is a funny, and moving documentary about one father’s quest to find out why his children prefer watching TV to playing outdoors. The National Trust helped to fund the film and so the rangers wanted to use our stand at Keswick Mountain Festival to launch a ‘Wild Summer in the Lakes’ to give families lots of ideas of places to go and things to do to make it easier to make the outdoors fun.
So, on the stand we had den building, mud pie making and ‘extreme’ tree climbing to 35ft (thanks to the Lake District forestry team for this). Inside the yurt we had some amazing wild art activities run by the staff from Wordsworth House and Garden, who reminded us that of course William Wordsworth grew up roaming the riversides and fells of the Lake District and could be described as the original wild child!
Working at the festival is both exhilarating and exhausting. I’d put our people counters on the main gate and they tell us that 16,898 people came onto the Festival Village at Crow Park over the weekend – and that’s just during the day, let alone the music concerts. The ranger team worked in shifts from 8am to 6pm with some covering the evening until 11pm – it’s a lot of work!
I think my highlight was, after enjoying watching Seth Lakeman playing on the main stage on the Saturday night as the sun set behind the fells, seeing him bring his children into the National Trust yurt to do some wild art on the Sunday morning, it’s great that every family, no matter where they’re from, can connect with us and find something that appeals to them.
The festival’s over for another year, the bunting has been washed, dried and put away and it’s time for some very tired rangers to have a well-earned rest.