A fun weekend in the Lake District at the Arc’teryx Climbing Academy

On the last weekend of April I was invited to spend a weekend in the Lake District with GORE-TEX at the Arc’teryx Climbing Academy. I had not actually heard of this event before, even though it is held in one of my favourite locations in the Lakes – the Langdale Valley! 

As we arrived into the National Park and drove past the small town of Ambleside, we turned off towards the Langdale valley. If you’ve never been to this part of the Lakes, I couldn’t recommend it enough! Driving through the most scenic valley, surrounded by beautiful scenery, mountain views and small villages is the best start to any weekend.

We turned into the Stickle Barn, a National Trust property which served as the basecamp for the Arc’teryx Climbing Academy this year. This is actually the third year that the Arc’teryx Academy has come to the Lake District, where various climbing clinics are held with qualified instructors from the International School of Mountaineering. From introductory courses, right through to trad & lead climbing skills, there are opportunities for people like me who are complete beginners, and experienced climbers alike.

I set up camp in a small field opposite the Stickle Barn, my first camp of 2023 – it felt so good to be camping again, and to test out my sleeping bag that I had bought for Nepal last year! Luckily it kept me nice and warm, and it’ll be fun now to be able to extend my camping time beyond the summer months alone.

The basecamp held several stalls from well-known brands, a little café trailer, and plenty of seating for socialising and meeting new people. I went to meet the team at GORE-TEX who are one of the world’s leading brands in providing waterproof, windproof and breathable technologies in outdoor gear. I remember buying my first ever GORE-TEX waterproof when I was 13 heading out on a D of E expedition! So to be learning more about the brand was really exciting. At the Academy the GORE-TEX stand was offering a wash, care and repair service where any GORE-TEX clothing could be repaired by the team. I had a pair of waterproof trousers with a slight tear which within 10 minutes had been fully repaired. For any items that may no longer be repaired, there was the option to have them upcycled into a bag or purse! It was great to spend some time here and see an initiative that ultimately saves items from going to landfill and helps gear to last longer. You can learn more about how to look after and care for GORE-TEX gear here. 

I headed out in the afternoon for a walk in the Langdale Valley, and hiked up towards Cold Pike with views overlooking the valley. I had been gifted the new Arc’teryx Coelle Jacket, so this was an opportunity to test it out. It has a new GORE-TEX ePE membrane with a PFC-free DWR treatment, thereby offering the same waterproof protection whilst achieving a reduced carbon footprint. It was great to test out this jacket in wet weather out on the fells – it kept me nice and dry, so a job well done!

The hike towards Cold Pike offered the best views. There are so many hikes to choose from in this area, from short valley walks, to exploring Blea Tarn and hiking the Langdale Pikes. You can read my blog from a nearby hike to Bowfell here

On Sunday, I enjoyed another short walk through the Langdale Valley before my Climbing Clinic in the afternoon. Having never climbed before, I was feeling a bit apprehensive as I gathered together the helmet, harness and climbing shoes that I was borrowing for the afternoon! We made our way just a 10 minute walk up the road to a crag, and it was nice to talk with the others on the clinic, some of whom hadn’t climbed outdoors before either. We learned how to put on a harness, tie in using the correct knots, and begin a climb – nonetheless, it felt very out of my comfort zone! Some in the group managed to make it to the top, and while I only made it up a few metres myself, it felt like an achievement. To be in a space where all abilities were encouraged and supported was the most welcoming first outdoor climb I could hope for! 

I still find climbing to be out of my comfort zone and often feel a lot of fear – but to go just a small step higher each time definitely teaches you that your limits are always more than you believe them to be. I really hope to climb again and this course gave me the motivation I needed to keep trying.

In the evenings at basecamp there were many different activities from talks, to live music, food stalls and a DJ. To end the final day of a fab weekend, there was a film & lecture night from some really inspirational people in the outdoor world, which was the perfect way to end this adventure. The next morning I packed up my tent and began my journey back home to Leeds. 

I would highly recommend the Arc’teryx Climbing Academy if you’re interested in climbing either as a beginner or experienced member of the community. So keep an eye out for next year’s tickets, and be quick – as the clinics sell out really quickly!


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