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Reflections from Kendal Mountain Festival

Images and Words by Leigh Rose

The week of Kendal Mountain Festival, I embarked on more than a simple drive to the Lake District. A journey that would culminate in a week of ‘firsts’ . My first time at Kendal, my first TrashMob Academy session, my first Citizen Science Expedition, and the most exciting, my first day as part of the TFT HQ team on the TFT x Trek stand at Base Camp. 

On Wednesday, a group of 30 year 4’s rallied around the vegetation in their playground excited to see what they could find for their worksheet. Clearly inspired by the content delivered in the classroom, they were eager to protect their wild space and pay it forward. With a briskness similar to that of the weather, these TrashMobbers handed items of single use pollution to us as we wandered back to the classroom. Despite not asking, these donations were welcome additions to our pockets. 

Thursday, Dom, Lion and I were greeted by a team of Citizen Scientists, eager to enjoy a Citizen Science Expedition up England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike. Our objective; complete a trash count recording the prevalence, composition and impacts of single use pollution on the trails. Our team consisted of partners, friends and volunteers, all with the shared goal of, not only reaching the summit but to test methodologies to be used in future citizen science expeditions. Reaching Sty Head Tarn opened up opportunity to pause, take stock and connect deeply with the natural world. Grounding our senses and really seeing, even with our eyes closed, the beauty and importance we all hold in our hearts for wild places was tangible. The team blended digital and analog methods to record 850 items of single use pollution over 13km of trail. Most of which was in close proximity to the cloud sunken summit. 

I hadn’t quite anticipated the magnitude of Kendal Base Camp. A collective hive mind of organisations showcasing their work to a world of outdoor enthusiasts and creatives soaking up the atmosphere between film premieres.  A distinct humm of conversation sheltered from the haze of rain and people who tripled the town’s population in the space of 12 hours. Picking up my camera again to capture Dom and Rach in conversation on stage was followed by conversations of nature connect, single use pollution and the recent release of the State of Our Trails Report. Opening people’s minds eye to dropping the ‘litterbug’ attitude and blame game, reframing the single use pollution issue as one of (re)connection to nature was a real highlight of mine. To share the space with individuals whose passion is palpable only gave me further inspiration to further these conversations. 

The weekend finished with TFT joining friends, Save Our Rivers, to remove single use pollution from the banks of the river Kent. Joined by A-TEAM members and volunteers across the festival it was a chance for us to give something back to the community hosting the festival. A beautiful way to close out another year of storytelling, citizen science and community.


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