The next few weeks in Eskdale ...

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It will come as no surprise to lovers of the Lakes that Cumbria is the current holder of the ‘Best UK Holiday Destination’ award. Some gongs are just the industry congratulating itself, but this one isn’t; the great British public votes for the winners. If you need any more proof, take a look at these up-and-coming events in and around Eskdale…

One of the advantages of being Cumbrian born and bred is that you get to know all the less famous events as well as the big headliners. I always made a point of popping in to see the Eskdale Art Show at St. Bega’s School, Eskdale Green. This year, over eighty artists and craftspeople are selling their work in a fantastic exhibition at the Bank Holiday, from Sat 23rd – Mon 25th May. I already have several pictures hanging on the walls collected over the years and hopefully this year will be no exception.

Also in half term week (from Sunday 24th – Thursday 28th May ) is the seriously big, and seriously crazy, Festival of Fools held at Muncaster Castle. The highlight of the Festival is the International Jester Tournament, on the last day, when the Castle and audience choose a new ‘fool’ for the forthcoming year. Fools aren’t exactly stand-up comedians, although there is a bit of that; they’re more clowns, acrobats and escapologists. It has to be seen to be believed! The rest of the festival includes a daily magic workshop, paint balling, archery, a Ferris wheel, face painting, and performances from three previous Fools of Muncaster.

After all this excitement, one of my favourite more relaxing events is the Boot Beer Festival (Thurs 4th – Sun 7th June ’09). This has nothing to do with muddy walking boots (well…unless you want it to be), but everything to do with the hamlet of Boot. It’s a tiny place in Eskdale, at the foot of Hardknott Pass and the end of L’aal Ratty’s line (the Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway). I checked out the blurb for this year’s event and there will be 70 different beers this year, with real cider and perry. Last year, my favourite was the Copper Dragon bitter. If it's back on this year, mine’s a pint! 

More mysteriously, the festival now includes a Black Pudding Bonanza at the Brook House Inn and Morris dancing on the Saturday. Well, it takes all sorts!