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Coming to Broadway Soon, Steve Scott Tells Us About the Kendal Mountain Tour

4 June 22 interview: Yasmin Turner

We chat to one of the Kendal Mountain Festival’s directors, Steve Scott, about the global appeal of adventuring, building a tight-knit community of thrill-seekers, and what to expect when their 2022 Tour comes to Broadway Cinema

Can you tell us what Kendal Mountain Festival is all about?
It’s really the biggest gathering of its kind, of multiple outdoor communities. It’s a big cultural festival as well, with an international film competition. But ultimately it’s just a multi-layered celebration of everything we love about the outdoors. 

Where did it begin and why?
It’s just over forty-years-old, and it was started by a group of mountaineers in Kendal who were planning expeditions, sharing stories of adventures, showing slides as it would have been in those days. It progressed quickly into sharing a few films; I guess they would have had the old cine cameras. It became a gathering for the mountaineering and climbing world. But certainly in the last ten years we’ve seen a huge shift in the outdoor landscape. There are many different faces coming in and multiple sports that are evolving as new technologies grow. This is layered with all the spare time people have and with the pandemic where lots of people experienced national parks for the first time.

What draws people to undertake these challenges, to take risks and explore the outdoors via adventure?
I think everyone has their own motivation. At Kendal, we have athletes and ambassadors from all over the world sharing their incredible adventure stories. But then again, we have everyday people who are simply just walking in the fells and are sharing that common passion for the outdoors. Often, it’s those activities that create friendships for a lifetime, and at Kendal you can see what those communities are doing and get advice on new activities and skills. It’s definitely the place to get that kind of inspiration. 

At Kendal, we have athletes and ambassadors from all over the world sharing their incredible adventure stories

How is the audience affected by living dangerous situations vicariously through the people on screen?
The audience relate to everyday people doing incredible things. It’s not always the risk-taking and the daredevil stuff, it is very much about communities coming together. We have a lot of communities working on ethnic and gender diversity, and we’re doing great work with the environmental activists. Layers of activism in society are reflected in our event. But as for the high-risk people, Kendal is that unique opportunity where you can go and rub shoulders with these thrill-seekers in the bar afterwards. It’s very non-hierarchical. 

Without giving away many spoilers, what are some of the most unbelievable moments from the films you’re showing this year?
We showcase the best selection we feel appeals to both young and old in the audience, and people of all tastes. So we’ve got incredible free-solo climbing; high altitude alpinists sharing the trials and tribulations of trying to conquer a new peak and the inner workings of a proximity wingsuit flyer. That sounds all high-risk, but on the flip side we’ve got some beautiful cinematography from a film called Ebb and Flow with women surfers on the west coast of Ireland, a female group of mountain bikers, and a skier with a difference breaking down barriers in many different ways.  

What’s special about your event in Nottingham?
We’ve got an incredible guest speaker, Elise Downing. She’s a brilliant role model for lots of people. She came up with a crazy idea to run around the coastline of Britain, while not being a runner at first either. She shares her story with frankness, warmth and humour. She’s just so brilliant on stage. 

The Kendal Mountain Tour is heading to Broadway Cinema on Wednesday 15 June. Tickets are now available on their website

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