Polaris or Lakes climbing festival?

Posted by Jake Morgan
Tuesday 23rd June 2009
I had been looking forward to the Summer Polaris in the Peak District for ages. It is a 2 day trailquest style event that allows 7 hours on Saturday and 5 hours on Sunday to collect as many checkpoints as you can. The fact that the race was on home ground meant that I had high hopes of doing well. The weather forecast was looking good.


On the Friday night I was coming to the realisation that the back injury I had picked up on the Fred Whitton was far from gone. It ached in the car on the way home from school let alone after 7 hours in the saddle.


I spent hours agonising over what to do, all those training rides. Pretty much everyone I know apart from those entered in the Polaris, were heading north to the Lakes Climbing festival. By eight I had made a decision and by half past was in the car heading towards the Lakes for a weekend of climbing. Albeit with my mountain bike in the back.


The Lakes festival of climbing is now in its second year. It was conceived while I lived in Kendal. Regularly climbing conversations in the pub turned to discussions of how dirty some of the crags were getting. This was caused by the foot and mouth years and a few wet summers allowing vegetation to regain a foothold (or handhold) on the rock. Something had to be done. The idea was born to get folks to come to the Lakes and get some traffic on the routes. The Duddon Valley was chosen with its picturesque camping and also because it has the Newfield Inn.


As I drove up the M6 the rain lashed down and I began to wonder if I had made the right decision. I left the motor way thinking that I was nearly there but remembered soon enough that the Duddon valley is several light years away from civilisation and I had a way to go. I finally arrived and walked straight to the bar.


"Sorry we've just called last orders"

"But I've driven from Sheffield"

"Oh ok then I guess just one more pint"


How many people have ever got a pint after last orders? The pub was rammed with people from all over the place catching up and enthusing about the local climbing.


Saturday morning started with coffee and bacon butties courtesy of the BMC. It was drizzly so I set off over Walna Scar road and down to Torver on my mountain bike (the best descent in the Lakes). Then back over Stephenson ground to Seathwaite. I felt justified in my decision not to race as my back ached after an hour.


I spent the rest of the weekend climbing in the sunshine at Shepherds Crag and Bell Stand. I was reminded what a beautiful place the Western Lake District is, it has some brilliant little crags where you can experience a solitude not normally found on most eastern crags.


There was a raffle with BIG prizes on Saturday night that included a weeks accommodation in the dolomites, ropes and softshell jackets.


Many thanks to Carrisa Lough and Martin Kocsis from the BMC who organised the event. If it gets any bigger next year they'll have to find a new pub. 

Read more blog entries by Jake Morgan

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