Packed weekend of adventure sports

Squash Falcolner. Photo contributed.
Squash Falcolner. Photo contributed.

Chinley-based adventure sports writer and athlete Nik Cook previews the Buxton Adventure Festival.

Every session at this weekend’s first-ever Buxton Adventure Festival at the Pavilion Arts Centre combines speakers and films in two-hour slices of jaw-dropping action and inspirational stories.

Maddie Thompson, GB ladies wheelchair basketball squad

Maddie Thompson, GB ladies wheelchair basketball squad

The line-up includes the stuntman who doubled as the Queen at the Olympics opening ceremony, last year’s World Champion downhill mountain biker, a woman who flies off the top of mountains, a wild swimmer, an internationally-renowned photographer and an award-winning BBC film-maker.

To put the seal on Buxton’s reputation as the UK’s adventure sports hot-spot, the University of Derby are tomorrow night (Friday) opening their new Oaklands Manor Outdoor Leadership Centre with a reception for invited guests and students. Kenton Cool, who’s climbed Everest a remarkable ten times, will cut the ribbon.

I’ll have the best seat in the house on Saturday afternoon when I chair a question and answer session with fell runner and writer Richard Askwith. We’ll talk about this eccentric and uniquely British sport, its history and the legends who inspired him to write his cult classic book ‘Feet in the Clouds’.

We’ll also be talking about his obsession with the Bob Graham Round - 42 Lake District peaks in 24 hours. It took him four attempts to crack it – perhaps not surprising as he described himself as a “13 stone Southerner who’d spent the best years of my life smoking, had weak ankles and a fear of heights!”

Gary Connery, who was the Queen's stunt double for the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, will be speaking at the Buxton Adventure Festival later this year. Photo: Karen Sutton - www.limelight-marketing.co.uk.

Gary Connery, who was the Queen's stunt double for the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, will be speaking at the Buxton Adventure Festival later this year. Photo: Karen Sutton - www.limelight-marketing.co.uk.

I’ll then be making a bee line to see Gary Connery. Who wouldn’t want to hear what a man who jumped out of a helicopter dressed as the Queen and sky-dived from 2,400ft without a parachute has to say?

There’s also no doubt that the two films that’ll accompany his talk have some of the most vertiginously head-spinning footage you’ll ever have seen on the big screen.

Another personal highlight will be former Downhill Mountain Biking World Champion Danny Hart, who’ll be chatting to ITV’s Cycle Show Presenter Anna Glowinski on Sunday night.

Danny’s 2011 winning run in Switzerland on a course that can best be described as a near vertical swamp has already achieved legendary status.

Anna and Danny will be talking about life on the downhill circuit and Danny’s current battle to return from injury.

The thrills and spills continue with Red Bull’s epic new mountain biking film ‘Where the Trail Ends’.

For children and families, there are two special morning sessions with stunt trials biker Danny Butler and 17-year-old Paralympic wheelchair basketballer Maddie Thompson introducing a series of short action sports films, followed by an afternoon of activities for children of all ages run by the university and Derbyshire Village Games.

So come along, be inspired and hopefully have some adventures of your own in and around the High Peak.

Although perhaps leave dropping in by helicopter without a parachute to the professionals.

Festival programme

Saturday October 20

10.30am - Daredevil Danny - Danny Butler

12.30pm - Spirit of Adventure - Squash Falcolner

3pm - Mapping the World’s Water - Kate Rew

5.30pm - Wild Vision - John Beatty

8pm - Adrenaline Junkie - Gary Connery

Sunday October 21

10.30am - Olympic Dreams - Maddie Thompson

12.30pm - Feet in the Clouds - Richard Askwith

3pm - Into Darkness - Gavin Newman

5.30pm - Fiva - An Adventure That Went Wrong - Gordon Stainforth

8pm - Downhill Demon - Danny Hart

Each session will last about two hours and include a selection of adventure films.

Tickets are £10 per session, with multisaver, concessions and family tickets available. Visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk or call 0845 127 2190.