Fort William Mountain Festival celebrates the great outdoors

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Celebrate everything the great outdoors has to offer at the Fort William Mountain Festival 2018.

Held in association the Nevis Landscape Partnership, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Outdoor Capital of the UK and the Highland Council, it is being staged in and around Fort William from Wednesday to Sunday, February 21 to 25.

From armchair adventurers and weekend warriors to the UK’s mountain communities the Fort William Mountain Festival is an energising experience for everyone.

A spokesperson said: ‘Visiting Lochaber in February for the mountain festival is the perfect time of year to experience the stunning landscape first hand, with the best winter walking, climbing and snowsports conditions of the year.

‘The festival offers the added bonus of another superb line-up of uplifting talks from top climbers and mountaineers, mountain bikers and mountain film-makers, together with exhilarating film screenings from cutting-edge outdoor athletes and adventurers; mountain skills workshops and exhibitions.’

The five-day programme includes:

Launch night: on Wednesday there will be a torchlit descent of Aonach Mor on ski, board and mountain bike to kick things off. Then settle in at the Pinemarten Cafe Bar at the Nevis Range for an entertaining evening with Spike and Sudsy’s Tall Tales of Nevisport, Nevis Range and Mountain Rescue.

Film competition: on Thursday relax and watch the winning outdoor adventure films, presented by Paul Diffley.

The climbers’ summit is a new ‘all things climbing’ night of chat and films with Robbie Phillips and Dave MacLeod, also on the Thursday.

Running Without Fear: Friday is a talk on life without limits with adventurer and broadcaster Lowri Morgan.

Big Picture Night: Friday sees ecological science and visual storytelling thinking about a wilder Scotland.

Monster Cracks and Desert Adventures: Saturday. Upside-down journeys with the Wide Boyz, masters of crack climbing Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker.

Great Divide Bike Race: Saturday – 2,745 offroad miles from Canada to Mexico with Lee Craigie, introduced by Emma Holgate’s Bikepacking Havanas adventures.

After party: Saturday. Grab a partner for the party with the Riska ceilidh band. Sponsored by Thistle Access NDT Ltd and supporting the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team.

Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour: Sunday. The finest mountain films to entertain and inspire from the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

The recipients of both the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture and the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture will receive their awards at a special ceremony during the festival. These awards recognise and celebrate lives spent in the hills, exploring everything the land has to offer while inspiring others.

Arts programme

Photographing Scotland​: Thursday. Glasgow-based adventure sports and landscape photographer Dougie Cunningham introduces his new photo-location and visitor guidebook.

Art Lochaber – Pop-up Gallery and Shop: Friday to Tuesday February 27.At Nevis Range selling outdoor themed paintings, mounted pictures and cards.

Wainwright Revealed: Saturday. Hear from film-maker and author Richard Else who filmed the original BBC films with Alfred Wainwright.

Cameron McNeish: Saturday. Book presentation and signing from one of Scotland’s best known wilderness men.

Workshop programme

Festival organisers have put together a range of workshops with plenty of opportunities for both novices and experts to hone their mountain skills.

Crack Climbing Masterclasses with the Wide Boyz: a crack climbing masterclasses with Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall. One hour crack coaching and a free roll of tape (taping is part of the masterclass) at Three Wise Monkeys, Fort William.

Winter walking skills, avalanche awareness, Ben Nevis guided walk, performance winter climbing. Regular mountain festival supporter and local guiding company, Abacus Mountain Guides, will team up with the mountain festival once again with a selection of workshops.  This is the perfect opportunity for everyone of all abilities to learn new skills.

Dave MacLeod will again run climbing masterclasses during the festival. The full-day classes will be run at his own climbing wall in Roy Bridge.

Join the ride out and coaching with West Coast Biking taking in some of the best single track available. Qualified guides and coaches will be on hand to show fundamental techniques and new mountain biking skills.

For the second year running, Penny, from Mountain Yoga, Kinlochleven, will take inspiration from the mountains and bring her yoga to the festival.

Learn to work on fix your bike yourself with tuition from some of the best mechanics in the business from Nevis Cycles.

Joining for the first time will be Atlas Mountaineering, teaming up with snow sports instructor Duncan Goldthorp, to offer a range of winter mountain skills, including navigation and avalanche transceiver use.

Exhibition zone

Explore the exhibition zone, open daily before the main programme’s events and during intervals. Exhibitors include: Abacus Mountain Guides, East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust, Ellis Brigham, The Highland Bookshop, Jamie Hageman, John Muir Trust, Lochaber Environmental Group, Lochaber and Lorn Ramblers, Nevis Cycles, Nevis Landscape Partnership, Rare Breed Productions, the West Highland College School of Adventure Studies, Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection, Three Wise Monkeys, Urban Uprising and West Coast Biking.

A spokesperson added: @The Fort William Mountain Festival celebrates our wild landscape and the opportunities it presents. The mountains and glens influence our culture in many ways. We want to promote the value of the landscape of Lochaber as the best destination in the UK to live, work and play.

‘The festival includes a superb line-up of top climbers and explorers, mountain films, inspirational speakers and skills workshops. It’s not just for adventure addicts though – anyone who appreciates the landscape of the Outdoor Capital of the UK will find something for them.’

To find out more, go to: https://www.mountainfestival. – william.mountain.festival