It’s probably fair to say that most of us have our own ‘special’ part of the Lake District, that whenever we allow our mind to wander to this magnificent part of the world – it heads for immediately.
Whether your place is on the summit of Kirkstone Pass, getting all Swallows and Amazons at Windermere Jetty Museum, or savouring a pint in Threlkeld’s Horse and Farrier, I’m here to let you know (apologies locals) that there is another part of this breath-taking 912 square mile landscape that you may not be too familiar with currently – and it’s time to sort that out!
The Winster Valley, described by Visit Lake District as: ‘a landscape of unspoilt pastoral delights - damson trees clustered in small orchards close to white-washed farmhouses, broadleaved woodlands brimming with bluebells, green undulating pastures with rocky outcrops of limestone, and yellow gorse adding a splash of colour to the countryside palette’, is a magical ‘off-the-beaten-track’ area of the South Lakes, with the villages of Bowland Bridge, Crosthwaite and Underbarrow at its heart.
So we’re agreed you need to head there soonest? Good. Well…that’s just the beginning of the STORY, because from the 2nd–4th June – in this place that Arthur Ransome once called home – the Stealing Thunder Storytelling Festival returns to the most picturesque meadows in beautiful Bowland Bridge.
The creation of amazing locals (and world-renowned storytellers) Emily and Nick Hennessey, in partnership with the Crick Crack Club, Kendal Mountain Book Festival, Pandavani108 and Super Great Kids’ Stories, this second festival does look like it’s set to be one of 2023’s Northern creative highlights.
There’s going to be world-class performance storytelling, sitar concerts by the babbling beck, a late night silent disco, guided fell runs, medieval puppet shows, storywalks through the valley, ceilidhs, kids’ tents, music and making workshops, loose parts play, myths for kids and fairytales for grown-ups.
If there are any left, you should immediately grab your tickets for this welly-boot-ique festival of wonder. Are there any of us who don’t need to escape to a world of playfulness, epic stories & wild enchantment…and the occasional sheep? (That’s obviously a rhetorical question.)
The two-day programme is stuffed with many of Planet Earth’s most magical stories and some of the worlds-best storytellers, including The King and the Corpse with Tranbsglobal Underground band members, TUUP and Sheema Mukherjee. Pandvani108 - also with Tuup and Sheema, plus Transglobal Underground tabla player, Rav Neiyyar: the mythic-mash-up band Pandvani108 will be doing pop-up street shows and their show for grow ups, The Winner Takes It All. There’ll be high drama, low comedy, dance monkeys and an epic backing band, as they mash-up myth to explore what it is that we really, really want. If you like your long stories short, then this is for you!
Dreamtime Fellrunner by Dr Julie Carter is yet another weekend highlight. Well-known in the Cumbrian fellrunning community both as a runner and a writer, Julie brings the poetic portrayal of experiencing the fells as a runner to the Winster Valley.
Finnish storyteller, Sarah Liisa Wilkinson who has a particular interest in the folktales and myths of Finland and other Nordic lands, brings us Strange Girls. Beautiful Monsters.
Homing Stone with Hugh Lupton, (who is the great-nephew of Arthur Ransome) is a spell-binding story of Ransome’s epic escape from Russia in 1917…and that Peel Island pebble in his pocket to bring him safely home.
Father and son Malcolm and Josh Green will also be sharing their incredible Gone Cuckoo tale – a love song to the most celebrated bird of the northern summer.
For campers – there’s early morning yoga, Indian Raga meditation by the beck and a guided fell running session from the festival site.
There will also be a unique opportunity to join a Singing Workshop with Scandi folk singer Kersti Ståbi.
And in addition to majestic views, marvellous people, excellent coffee, a bar (Kay’s doing the bar by the way) and gorgeous Mexican and Italian food – there’s even a Saturday night silent disco under the stars.
My work here is done I think? If you haven’t secured your TICKETS by this point – it might be wise to secure an appointment instead to chat about your life choices with your GP. Perhaps.
To be part of the one of the most magical weekends in the North this summer – JUST CLICK HERE!