REVIEW: Octoberfest at Sticklebarn in the Langdale Valley, Lake District

What do you get if you mix three days and nights of live music, star-filled skies, Lakeland mountain peaks, campfires, lovely beer and food...and The National Trust?

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 12:00 am

That would be Octoberfest, at Sticklebarn in the Langdale Valley, which took place between Friday October 18 and Sunday October 20 for the second year running in 2019.

Many would also describe this as heaven.

There’s not a lot of places you can walk straight up a mountain from a festival main stage.

It takes just over an hour to reach Stickle Tarn (700m), overlooked by Pavey Ark, from the National Trust’s Sticklebarn, which hosted pretty much continuous live music across two stages between 12pm and 11pm.

Musicians from the north west, Exeter, Bristol, Cornwall and even Sweden and Russia performed over the weekend, and many of them could be seen on the mountain paths too outside of set times.

The free event featured fiddles, guitars, double bass, drums, violins and reggae beats, topped off with silent discos until late.

The Pavey Ark stage was situated inside Stickle Barn, which also hosted...continue reading screenings, kids craft workshops and facepainting, as well as a great bar filled with an excellent choice of ale and of course a special October brew. Hay bales were put down as seats, and there was a warm, tangible, authentic folk feeling you can only get from stone buildings with a large hearth, good beer, and lots of relaxed, smiling faces. Outside, a Berber tent had been erected to host the Main Stage, which was lit beautifully both inside and out, and looked so inviting from the road. Benches lined the edges, but there was plenty of space to dance too. And many did.

Further outside, food and drink stalls created a brilliant ambience, with break out spaces and tables to eat, and a camp fire surrounded by seating lending itself to meeting new friends and exchanging tall tales.

We stayed in a camping pod at the National Trust’s Great Langdale Campsite about 10 minutes walk up the valley. Prices are £30 - £60 depending on size/season. Camping is £23 per night for a family of four with a car.

The pod was cosy despite the turning season, and the site had a relaxed, festive feel to it.

There was even hot breakfast sandwiches available from reception in the mornings.

We attended the event on the Saturday and Sunday, so missed what we were told was an excellent headline set by Bristol’s Cut Capers.

Judging by the quality of the music over the next two days, we missed a whole lot more on the Friday too.

Nevertheless, on the Saturday we caught sets by Cornwall based Winter Mountain, Swedish sibling trio Baskery, The Michael Sykes Band, and the excellent reggae groove and lyricism of Pembrokeshire based Regime, who had us bopping off the site early only because of tired kids, but then bopping back in because it sounded so good, dragging those poor, tired kids behind us!

We caught the whole set and were glad we did. Sorry kids.

Sunday, a more chilled out affair, saw performances from south Cumbria’s The Native Cult, Bristol’s True Strays, Kendal based Scrogans Run, South Wales’ Rusty Shackle, Daria Kulesh and Marina Osman from Russia and Barney Kenny - a great musician, and the marketing and events coordinator at Sticklebarn, who brought the whole thing together.

This was a high calibre line-up for a free event, and I’ve come away with lots of new albums to listen to.

Breaking up the day with a sun and shower-drenched trip up into the mountains, and leisurely walks between the campsite and Sticklebarn made the event extra special.

The oranges, reds and golds of autumn are hard to beat in the Lake District.

It was great to speak to National Trust staff who had come to volunteer at the event from other properties across the North West too.

There was a family feeling, perhaps a coming together and celebration of all the hard work over the summer?

Either way, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

My only quibble was the price of the food.

Had it been a bit more affordable, we may have spent more time eating there, but as it was, we’d brought enough to cover us for a weekend in the wild.

I’m really hoping this happens again.

It was a credit to the National Trust for taking a risk and trying something new, and to everyone that made the event run so smoothly.

Sticklebarn hosts events throughout the year, visit {|HERE} and on Facebook for updates.