BAF2014 Report

23rd Oct 2014


Pro climber Shauna Coxsey was the trailblazer for this year’s Buxton Adventure Festival.   The BMC Ambassador spent three days touring local schools as part of a lecture series with the University of Derby, Rural Derbyshire School Sport Partnership and Peak District National Park before giving the keynote speech at the University’s Young Adventurers’ Awards at Oaklands Manor Outdoor Leadership Centre on Friday night.

Thanks to our team of photographers - Jimmy Hyland plus University of Derby students James Craig, Jack Flemming, Becky Thornton and co.  We're uploading more photos as we get them. 
Browse album on Flickr

It was clear by the reception she got from the audience after her Main Theatre lecture on Saturday evening that the 21-year old is clearly an inspirational role model.  Mobbed on stage after her talk, the only complaint was that she hadn’t brought enough posters to sign.

Encouraging the next generation is one of BAF’s key aims.  15 year old sailors Bobby Hewitt and Harvey Martin won the University of Derby’s Young Adventurer of the Year award, judged by adventurers Squash Falconer, Dave Cornthwaite and the Meek Family (  The pair won the RS Feva Worlds beating 372 athletes from 20 nations over a 14 race series.

This was the first year that we felt like we achieved the University of Derby’s original vision of a multi-site event.  Team GB Ice Climber Andy Turner and James Mitchell and his Outdoor Leadership team transformed the campus’ headquarters, the Devonshire Dome, into 'Thunderdome' - a stunning adventure sports centre with slackliners defying gravity 70 ft up in Europe’s largest unsupported dome against the jaw-dropping backdrop of some of the world’s top ice-climbers scaling giant ‘ice-cubes’ suspended from the ceiling.  

The students excelled themselves putting on not just Thunderdome but also showing off the skills with adventure sports demos, culinary arts, spa treatments and martial arts as well as providing a team of 30-40 volunteers split between the Pavilion Gardens and the Dome.  Clearly visible in their bright blue Ts provided by event sponsor Rab, the Outdoors Leadership and Events Management students were a credit to the University.

The Meeks ( were back with their daughters Amy (11) and Ella (9) for our Saturday morning Young Adventurers’ session.  Danny Butler forced Dad Tim to prove his adventurous spirit by using him as the fall guy in his Extreme Mountain Bike Show.  We even had a surprise video visit by last year’s Young Adventure talk presenter Dave Cornthwaite recorded in Sweden from his Hobie kayak on his latest record-breaking 1,000 mile journey.

Beeline Britain duo Ian O’Grady and Nick Beighton and filmmaker Ian Burton (Image Impossible) gave a preview of their forthcoming documentary ‘As The Crow Flies’ ahead of its Kendal Mountain Festival premiere.  Nick, who was lost both his legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, and Ian clearly have a great rapport and amused the audience with tales of keeping up morale (and keeping control of your bowels) while kayaking for 34 hours non-stop. 

Cycling Weekly Fitness Editor Hannah Reynolds interviewed Lance Armstrong whistle-blower Emma O’Reilly about her book ‘The Race To Truth’ about cycling’s doping culture.  Emma’s compassion for the cyclists she worked with and her forgiveness of Lance’s personal attacks on her character was fascinating and provoked a half-hour Q&A session about whether cycling can rescue its tarnished reputation.  

Climber, stuntman and Mountain Hardwear climber Tim Emmett won the ‘Getting To The Stage Closest To Talk Deadline’ award dashing over from the dry tooling competition in the University of Derby’s Thunderdome with exactly one minute to spare.  Luckily for the organisers Tim is Mr Cool under pressure.  He completed his technical testing in 30 seconds and went down a storm before heading back to the dome to claim victory in the evening’s finals.

There was a packed house for the Brit Rock Film Tour on Saturday night, introduced in person by the director Alastair Lee. Downhill mountain biker Rob Jarman’s film ‘All My Own Stunts’ about his recovery from a near-fatal accident opened the show.  The two climbing films in this new home-grown collection were intimate portraits of British climbers Julian Lines and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk.  ‘Stone Lines’ revealed the life of one of the best climbers most people have never heard of, while Jen Randall’s behind-the-scenes film ‘Project Mina’ showed the pressure of performing in the limelight on the sports climbing stage.  Light relief was provided by Niall Grimes’ surreal short ‘Boy’ and Dave Halsted brought the house down with his kayak skit ‘iPaddle’.  Then it was tissues out for ‘Set of Wainwrights’ about Steve Birkinshaw’s record-breaking fell-run this summer with Al Lee capturing the physical and emotional toll of this week-long slog over the Lakes’ highest Peaks.        

Another innovation for BAF this year was the introduction of fringe talks and workshops.  Lukasz Warzecha’s masterclass presented by Sidetracked magazine struck gold with a Peak District cloud inversion at sunrise before heading underground for a photo shoot at Poole’s Cavern and then on for a Main Theatre talk, ‘Life As A Pro’.  (Apparently Jarvis Cocker had been in the previous week for an Armani fashion shoot but he had nothing on our caving models, volunteer photographer Jimmy Hyland and his Dad Rob).

Trail Running magazine’s Sarah Ryan headed out to the Goyt Valley for a half day workshop with Fell Running Guide Dave Taylor, with Wild Running authors Jen and Sim Benson and family meeting and greeting participants.  

Meanwhile, over in the University’s Devonshire Dome Wanderlust Magazine editor and author of Extreme Sleeps, Phoebe Smith, explained How To Become A Travel Writer alongside fellow authors Hannah Reynolds (France en Velo) and Steve Chilton (It’s A Hill, Get Over It).  Our plan is to develop these more experience-based, practical sessions next year into a fuller BAF fringe festival programme.

Berghaus athlete Karen Darke was another consummate pro.  Arriving in Buxton the evening before her presentation, the climber, paralysed in an accident when she 21 years old, had written her heart-warming, motivational and funny talk on the plane flying home from an epic cycling trip across Tibet.

The Science of Cycling panel was delayed by 10 minutes – not because our experts were flying back from some far-flung competition, just local road-works causing an hour-long traffic jam.  The stellar cast – former pro Rob Hayles, Team Sky head physio and nutritionist Phil Burt and Nigel Mitchell, top performance coach Andrew Gillott and British Cycling’s Nik Cook – debated every aspect of cycling know-how, ably chaired by Cycling Weekly’s Hannah Reynolds.  We’d love to know who the pro cyclist is who confessed to Phil and Nigel that he has a “cake problem”.

Aptly, BAF closed with a marathon session.  Hats off to those who’d gone ultra and done the half-day trail running workshop and bought the package of 3 run talks.  

At 4pm the eponymous Charlie Ramsay was piped on to stage by a Ramsay Round finisher before being introduced by fell-running Ramsay Round record holder Nicky Spinks.  Charlie gave us the ultimate, insiders’ guide to preparing and completing a round with every detail from parking tips to promoting your attempt and recruiting a support crew.  

Next up, Jen and Sim Benson and their two-year-old daughter Eva and baby Hugo charmed the audience with a romp through their new guide book ‘Wild Running’ which is packed with 150 trail run guides all over Britain including a route through Cycle To The Cinema’s home base at the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate.   Earlier this year the Meek Family sold their family home and gave up their teaching jobs to tour round the UK in a caravan and Jen and Sim are about to embark on a similar project, camping in a tent for a year.  We look forward to hearing about their adventures.

Fell running history book author Steve Chilton closed the festival with a late-night TV style one-to-one with Steve Birkinshaw.  Steve and Steve talked round a selection of highlight clips from Alastair Lee’s film.  Sweat, blood and tears wasn’t just a cliché with Steve talking about the intense pain he suffered from blisters as well as coping with the heat and lack of sleep before welling up at the footage of him being welcomed home by his Borrowdale club runners, friends and family. 

Festival Director Matt Heason said:  “With ticket sales up by 20% - a similar growth to last year – thanks to the support from great partners like Rab and the University of Derby, we believe we’ve now got a template for growing the Buxton Adventure Festival steadily in the way we’ve done with the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival.  The aim is that they will complement each other with BAF more speaker centred and ShAFF more film focussed.”

Festival co-organiser and PR Lissa Cook said: “We’re immensely grateful to all our sponsors and partners, our brilliant team of volunteers and the Opera House staff without whom putting on BAF simply wouldn’t be possible.  We look forward to building BAF into an unmissable fixture on the UK’s outdoors calendar that contributes to Buxton’s vibrant reputation as a spa, festival and university town at the heart of the Peak District.” 


Brit Rock Film Tour - across the UK this winter -
European Outdoor Film Tour - Sheffield 5 Nov, Manchester 6 Nov -
Sheffield Adventure Film Festival - 20-22 March 2015 -
Cycle To The Cinema - across the Peak District -
RunYHA Running Festival, Castleton 8-10th May 2015 in association with Ourea Events & Heason Events

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