15th - 18th November 2018


The Kendal Mountain Festival has a reputation as one of the most diverse festivals of its kind, attracting outdoor enthusiasts from across the UK and film premieres from around the globe.

Filmmakers, authors, adventurers, brands and and speakers gather together to take part in four days of films, talks, books and exhibitions covering all aspects of mountain and adventure sports culture that has included, in recent years, swimming.

At the heart of Kendal’s programme is the film competition, attracting film premières from around the world. Around 70 films are screened (from 300+ entries) with twelve prizes available. The genres represented include outdoor adventure, culture, wildlife and environmental documentaries. To enter a film visit the Film Freeway page. Buy Film Passes for the 2018 Festival here.

Kendal also curates an impressive speaker programme, featuring a diverse mix of mountaineers, climbers, explorers, adventurers and more – the 2017 Festival featured 116 speakers!

Tickets for the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival are now on sale – read more below and get your tickets here.

Other events include art exhibitions, photography events, competitions and specialist sports sessions of which outdoor swimming is now one (others include Bike, Snowsports, Free-Flight, Underground and Endurance Sports).

Tickets for the main Festival events go on sale later this month, we’ll add the link here when they are launched.

My Big White Thighs and Me © Hannah Maia

Supported by the Outdoor Swimming Society

Sunday 18th November/ 9.30 am – midday

Details on the 2018 session will be announced soon…

Hosted by Colin Hill, the 2017 session was an exhilarating journey through rivers, lakes and the sea, as seen through the goggles of three intrepid women. Beth French spoke about taking on the Oceans 7; Tanya Shadrick, writer-in-residence at Pells Pool, introduced the (soon to be published) life and swim diaries of wild swimmer Lynne ‘Rivers’ Roper, and author Jenny Landreth spoke about her book Swell: A Waterbiography.

In addition attendees got the chance to see some of the best outdoor swimming films of the year and  to win top prizes from our sponsors: Alpkit, Chillswim and The Outdoor Swimming Society in the Outdoor Swimmer Quiz, hosted by the magazine Editors Alice Gartland and and Jonathan Cowie.
You can read Ella’s report on the 2017 event here.

Kendal Mountain Literature Festival

Held over the same weekend as the main Festival, the diverse programme of events features some of the UK’s foremost authors of nature, landscape and mountain literature. Featuring over 40 authors, poets and writers; including naturalist Mark Cocker, Canal and Rivers Laureate Nancy Campbell and south-west coast path walker Raynor Winn.

We’ve had a look through the programme and these are our favourites… but there are many more fascinating events taking place – you can see the full programme here.

Disko Bay © Nancy Campbell

Nancy Campbell – The Library of Ice

Long captivated by the solid yet impermanent nature of ice, by its stark, rugged beauty, acclaimed poet and writer Nancy Campbell sets out from the world’s northernmost museum to explore it in all its facets. From the Bodleian Library archives to the traces left by the great polar expeditions, from remote Arctic settlements to the ice houses of Calcutta, she examines the impact of ice on our lives at a time when it is itself under threat from climate change.
© Raynor Winn - The Salt Path

Raynor Winn – The Salt Path

Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years is terminally ill, the couple lose their home and their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.
“The Salt Path is a life-affirming tale of enduring love that smells of the sea and tastes of a rich life. With beautiful, immersive writing, it is a story heart-achingly and beautifully told.” – Jackie Morris

West Okement © Allan MacFadyen

Wild Woman Swimming: A Journal of Westcountry Waters

A year on from Tanya’s emotional talk at the 2017 Outdoor Swimming Session about her promise, after a single meeting with Lynne Roper, to publish her diaries – Tanya has done just that. Join her to discover the life and writing of the late Lynne Roper, a visionary wild swimmer whose diaries are a celebration of the close-knit communities that form wherever strangers meet to swim together.
2017 Grand Prize Winner Big Night Out by James Appleton


Kendal are seeking entries for their 2018 Photography Competion, and there’s a special category for ‘The Love of the Water (supported by Finisterre).

Now in its 11th year, this prestigious competition has cemented a reputation for discovering new talent and celebrating some of the most captivating imagery from the world of outdoor adventure.

This year the Grand Prize winner will receive a £500 cash prize, with £200 awarded to each of the winners of each category. In addition, sponsor prizes will be given to all winners and runners up.

Find out more and enter your photos here!

Here’s the brief for the Water category:

Here at the festival we love exploring the mountains but also the sea, rivers and lakes! These environments open up so many possibilities for adventure and enjoyment, whether that means coastal walks, wild swims or adventure sports like kayaking, surfing or paddle boarding. In these modern times our seas and rivers are also under threat and there is a growing awareness of what needs to be done to protect them. How can you show your Love of the Water in a single image? What does it mean to you?

For swims in the area: see the Kendal Collection