Runners, charity fundraisers and avid readers have enjoyed a host of events on the combined Pencil Factory and Rawnsley sites in Keswick last weekend.
There was a lot of activity on the sites, which are owned by Keswick Ministries, including an ultra-race, adventure challenge, and a book launch – all by different organisers.
The Rawnsley Centre was the starting point of the “Cumbria Way Ultra 30”, a 30-mile run from Keswick to Carlisle. Around 120 participants took part in this challenge. It was also a checkpoint for the longer “Cumbria Way Ultra”, a 73-mile challenge from Ulverston to Carlisle via Keswick. Amongst the 60 participants was record breaking Dan Lawson, who last year set one of the fastest known times for running from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
Organiser Gaynor Prior said: “This is a perfect site in the centre of Keswick with amazing facilities. We can muster quite a lot of people here safely and the site also has the benefits of meeting rooms and car parking facilities. It’s got everything.”
Another adventure challenge called Race the Sun, organised by Adventure Elements, was also launched from the Pencil Factory site. The event involved charity fundraisers in a 40-mile bike ride, 2-mile canoe on Derwentwater and a gruelling 11-mile hike to the summit of Skiddaw.
Around 160 participants set off from the Packing Hall on the Pencil Factory site, in stages, early Saturday morning. They used the Packing Hall as a transition space for participants to get changed and ready for the next section of the challenge.
Organiser Ben Keen said it was “amazing” to have the Packing as central hub – where participants can go out from a main base to do the three activities – otherwise participants would have to make these transitions outside or in a hired marquee.
Also on site was a BBQ and coffee vendor for participants – and many enjoyed sitting under the canopy on the village green area to cheer everyone on as they returned to base.
This was the second consecutive weekend organisers have held this event.
In the evening, one of the newly refurbished rooms in the Pencil Factory was the main venue for the launch of Joss Naylor’s new book, ‘Lakes, meres and waters of the Lake District’.
At the “In Conversation with…” event, the legendary Joss discussed his famous 1983 Lakes, Meres and Waters route with Vivienne Crow. The book interweaves tales of past and present.
Joss said, with his new book, he wanted to “portray the Lake District in the light it really is”. He said while many people tackle Scafell Pike, Skiddaw and Helvellyn, there are many other areas around the county to enjoy.
Speaking about the new facility at the Pencil Factory, event organiser, Lucy Matthews of Bookends Keswick, said: “We have been delighted that Keswick has a new venue with lots of sizes of rooms. We have been really well looked after throughout the booking process.”
David Sawday, Chief Operating Officer of Keswick Ministries, said: “The Pencil Factory site is a great multi-purpose space that can be used for big events, such as the adventure challenges, where participants need space to store their kit, dry out and get changed between challenges and use the toilets facilities. Equally there is space on site for more events like book launches. We are delighted that the ground floor of the Pencil Factory and the Packing Hall can be used for these events.
“We are gearing up for work to start on the first and second floors of the Pencil Factory this autumn, so the whole building is ready in time for next year’s Convention. This will bring additional spaces into use and increase the options for even more events to be held here. It’s great to see the vision of the Pencil factory as a new events centre in Keswick starting to take off.”