In a sea of green the bright yellow sign stood out like a beacon directing us off the road and into what would be our home for the weekend. Set in the grounds of the Thornbridge Outdoors in the rolling countryside of Derbyshire the team behind the big shakeout were completing final preparations for the start of this years Festival. We parked the camper up, jumped out, closed the door and headed to find the action.
The boutique weekend festival is put on by Alpkit, an online retailer for outdoor enthusiasts. It's a none profit event that over 3 days celebrates the great outdoors, successfully combining food, music, talks and outdoor activities. There was a wide variety to chose from during the day such as Nordic walking, caving, axe throwing, mountain biking to name a few, we opted for a story telling session with Andy Kirkpatrick, a canoe paddle making course with John Clohesy at Birch Canoes, some adrenaline rush through the trees and yoga with Polly.
The early morning adrenaline rush swinging through the tree's like Tarzan certainly woke the senses, we jumped, tiptoed, balanced and edged our way around the tree canopy course before zip-wiring our way back down to the solid ground. Our next activity I thought would be a lot less strenuous but shaping and sanding a hard wood piece of Ash from Leicestershire in the mid day sun is pretty demanding. We were under the watchful eye and very patient Tutorage of John Clohsey from Birchcanoes.com who lives and breathes canoes, he is based in Melton Mowbray a stones throw from River Wreake where he runs courses to stay and build your own wooden canoe. We will definitely be spending some time with John next year.
The late afternoon was spent with Andy Kirkpatrick, eight of us were sat around an unlit campfire surrounded by trees with the suns glare darting in between the leaves. From the start Andy had our full attention, he is a British mountaineer, award-winning author, comedian, motivational speaker and above all a great story teller. He read a few of his latest posts, shared some story writing tips and entertained us for hours, the time flew by. You can catch Andy in London, pledge now on his Indigogo page to secure a ticket here.
Throughout the weekend there was plenty of food to keep us energised and freshly ground coffee from Allpress to perk us up in the morning. At dinner times we tucked into some hearty food served canteen style but with restaurant taste. After dinner the entertainment continued long into the night, there were talks from inspirational individuals, back to back films and live music in the main tent. We were lucky enough to hear two brilliant talks from Anna Mcnuff, adventurer and Andy Heading in the yurt and took in some music from a number of great bands in the woods and the main stage.
We managed to cram plenty into the weekend and as we left, we noticed the yellow sign had been removed from the roadside but a small yellow card had been put on the windscreen it read "don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened"
Thanks to everyone at Alpkit and everyone else involved for putting a fantastic festival.