Shap Outdoor Festival

The first Shap Outdoor Festival has now drawn to an end!

The Old Courthouse would like to say a huge thank you to all those who came along and showed us so much support over the month.

We were so lucky with the weather on our outdoor walks – only a few spots of rain and, for Shap, that’s a miracle! Our fabulous new lighting and projection technology worked flawlessly too!

If you came along on one of the events, please leave a comment below and let us know what you enjoyed, what didn’t work well and what you would like to see as part of a future festival.
Jim Bliss

The month started with a very interesting talk from Jim Bliss on the wilding work going on at Lowther Estates, followed by Eve Borrino with a talk on the amazing world of bats – the group making it all the way to the River Lowther on a fine evening to watch and listen to these wonderful creatures.

The weekend saw Jerry Moss and Sarah McNeil from Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group taking 3 groups of eager squirrel watchers around the quiet woods at Shap Wells Hotel. The squirrels did not disappoint us and we had many close encounters with one of our favourite local inhabitants!

Lee Schofield & Annabel Rushton

Lee Schofield from RSPB/Wild Haweswater was met with a full house when he came to give us a talk on the work being carried out at Haweswater and kept us all entertained and enthralled reading from his award winning book – Wild Fell.

An overcast and drizzly Bank Holiday Monday morning did not dampen the spirits of the large group of lichen hunters who came along to join Caz Walker & Chris Cant as they gave us a brief talk on what things to look out for on our walk up to the church, scanning walls and trees for these small and  fascinating organisms.

A busy week of events followed. 

Robert Benson, chair of the Penrith & Distrist Red Squirrel Group told us all about these special little mammals, the different species around the world and the ever-growing threat to our local, much-loved red squirrels.

Jack Ellerby from Friends of the Lake District enlightened us all with regard to the problem of light pollution in Cumbria and the work being carried out to bring back ‘Dark Skies’ to the county.

Jack also organised the Friends of the Lake District Walling Competition – on a scorching hot day in the village. You can check out the winners here.

After spending a busy day at the primary school, Freya & Roman from Lancaster University Outreach Team –  brought the LUniverse Planetarium experience to Shap! A wonderful evening spent amongst the stars – planets, galaxies and black holes too!

Freya & Roman from Lancaster University

Our final excursion was a walk throughout the stone monuments of Shap. Another beautiful day drew a large crowd to join Patrick Neaves as he led them along the route of the prehistoric monuments of Shap.

A special thank you to those people who made these events possible.

Annabel Rushton – RSPB/Wild Haweswater

Lee Schofield – RSPB/Wild Haweswater

Katie & Phil – RSPB/Wild Haweswter

Kay Andrews – Friends of the Lake District

Jack Ellerby – Friends of the Lake District

Robert Benson – Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group

Jerry Moss – Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group

Sarah McNeil – Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group

Gary & Jill – Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group

Eve Borrino

Caz Walker – Cumbria Lichens & Bryophytes Group

Chris Cant – Cumbria Lichens & Bryophytes Group

Freya & Roman – Lancaster University 

Mel Sugden – Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Sean Prokopiw – Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Ruth Kirk – At Nature’s Pace

To everyone who helped advertise and promote the events during the festival

And especially – all those who came along, joined in and supported us! 


  1. We absolutely loved being involved in the first ever Shap Outdoor Festival. It was brilliantly run from start to finish with a great variety of fascinating topics and events. Massive thanks to Patrick for all your hard work bringing it all together and for inviting us to take part. Looking forward to future plans. Annabel and Lee from the RSPB at Haweswater.

  2. We came to Lee Scofield’s talk and found it informative. Love his book. Gives you hope for the future of the planet.
    The festival was a really great idea. Well done. Another next year please!

  3. A truly memorable morning with red squirrels!! The guys from Penrith were fantastic. More weekends like that.

  4. A fantastic opportunity to learn more about all things wild and wonderful, including lichens! The level of expertise, thought and preparation which went into the session was greatly appreciated.

  5. We went on the red squirrel walk and absolutely loved it. I would have liked to have visited your gallery but you weren’t open in the afternoon.

  6. Really enjoyed the events that I was able to attend (Lowther Estate/Lee Schofield talks).
    use of the drop down screen at The Old Courthouse greatly enhanced the presentations.
    There were other talks that I couldn’t attend but would be interested in if included in a future programme.
    Unfortunately the new date for the Peatlands talk does not work for me – when first advertised it had a separate time for walk followed by talk – will that still be the case?
    Point to bear in mind:
    Use of white font on events advertising leaflet not so clear for some – couple of comments made when handing out Shap Today and didn’t show up well on the projection screen.

    • Hi Janet,
      Thanks for your feedback.
      I’m sorry the new date for the peatland talk/walk is not suitable – the format is changing slightly, it will be a talk first followed by the walk for those who wish to join.
      That way, there will be an introduction for all those species that we will be looking for once we get out on the fell./

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