New Welsh Review

From Love Bugs to Period Taboos: Kendal Mountain Festival 2

Amy Aed’s second report from the festival’s varied fare, from veteran married entomoligists on film, UK period poverty and Nepalise menstrual taboos, cooped-up British children and feminist adventurers

PUBLISHED ON: 08/12/20

CATEGORY: Adventure, Blog

TAGS: adventure, diversity, equality, female, international, leisure, mindfulness, nature, outdoors, sport

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The Kendal Mountain Festival showcases some of the most influential explorers, books, and films in the industry.

One of the many documentary features that are available to watch until 31 December is The Love Bugs (originally screened in the Feature Films/Human Spirit festival strand and available via a film pass). This film sees two married entomologists who, for the past sixty years, have travelled across the world, collecting more than a million insect specimens.

The Love Bugs film still


 Directed by Alison Ottoand Maria Clinton, this piece shows so much love and history interwoven with the couple’s beloved collection, which is the largest private collection in the world. With diaries and old photos and on-screen doodles, their incredible story really comes to life.

 Another great film that is available to watch is called Chhaupadi . Interwoven with genuine, beautiful female connections, this documentary, a story of unity and injustice, is sure to bring together generations of all genders. It explores the taboo within small Nepal villages which prohibits women and girls from partaking in normal family activities whilst menstruating. The women are shunned and seen as impure, and as such, simple things such as touching tap water, going into the kitchen to cook, and eating from plates without then purifying them in the sun are forbidden.

The narrator-protagonist, Edurne, uncovers these taboos as she leads an expedition to Mount Saipal, taking along with her her four young Nepali girls to empower them and other women in their communities. The girls teach her about the chhaugots that women are forced to stay in whilst on their periods: these are huts that are hard, cold, isolating, and in many cases, deadly.

Along with a wide selection of great adventure films, the festival also showcases many influential speakers. Two of these are Aldo Kane and Jason Fox, who advise young and old adventurers alike. One of the best pieces of advice that Fox offers is, ‘You should spend more time in the now, dwelling less on decisions made or things in the future. Be mindful, like an eighteen-month old toddler [is].’

Another event features Steve Backshall talking about the Nature Defect Disorder, the fact that in the past 40,000 years, our bodies have changed very little, while the world around us has changed too much for us to keep up with it. He introduces concepts such as how fame and success won’t make you happy if you’ve lost the connection to people and land. Backshall shares stories from his travels, talking about when he visited Borneo and saw cave handprints from thousands of years ago; parents creating art with their children then, just as parents do now, and in turn immortalising them. In another story, Backstall talks about how, while releasing trapped fish from nets, he often saw that the mate of a trapped fish would cling to the outside of the net, quite literally dying to be with their partner.

Other lesser-known talkers such as Sophie Hellyer have also come to the stage, talking about their own passionate projects and bringing new ideas to the fore. Hellyer discusses issues such as how three-quarters of children in the UK currently spend less time outdoors than prison inmates, and that one in five girls in the UK are missing school because they can’t afford period products. Such issues we generally, and wrongly, consider to be irrelevant to British society.

The Berghaus Women in Adventure Session, meanwhile, brings together inspiring women who have all undertaken large, empowering projects. There are hundreds of other wonderful events, all centred around the idea of togetherness and exploration. This festival is sure to inspire audiences across the globe.


Amy Aed is an adventurer and travel writer living in Aberystwyth.