Among Kendal’s many unusual features (two castles, three rivers and the widest church in the country) is something really unexpected – a dry ski slope. It’s hidden away at the foot of the ‘new’ castle hill, which is a great place for it as the hillside is steep enough to provide descending skiiers with a good head of steam.
Dave has been a member of the club for the last year or so and heads off every Monday during the winter season for skiing lessons. The season has now ended but yesterday the club had a ‘last hurrah’ racing event, with hundreds of people turning up and taking part. We strolled along too and watched as skiiers hurtled down two different slalom courses, and it was fascinating to see close-hand something I’d only ever watched on television before. I had no idea, for instance, that slalom poles give out a dull ‘thwack’ when they’re hit with ski poles, because that sound is usually drowned out by the scrape of skis on icy snow, by the crowd shouting, by the commentary and even music.
Afterwards we had a mooch into Kendal, past the maze of old factories in the area known as Canal Head where the old Lancaster canal terminated. During the heyday of canals this area teemed with wharves and warehousing; many of the buildings have been abandoned or turned to other purposes (a funeral parlour, a trendy bar) but there are still factories making unusual products like snuff and Kendal Mint Cake.
And we finally got to cross the brand new Gooseholme Bridge, which was only opened last year. The previous bridge was washed away in the devastating floods of Storm Desmond and it’s taken all this time to design and build a new one. The new bridge makes use of local stone, has a great view of the river and the stone piers of the old bridge, and even incorporates a plaque of flying geese as a nod to the area’s name.