Women’s rock climbing festival held at Sheffield farm a ‘roaring success’

More than 300 women from all walks of life have taken part in a festival aimed at encouraging more women to get into rock climbing at a Sheffield farm.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 12:41 pm

The annual Women’s Trad Festival - now in its sixth year - came to Clark Farms, Hangram Lane, on August 6-8.

Run by Hetty Key, Ellie Fuller, Charlie Low and Gilly McArthur, the event encourages women of all ages and levels of rock climbing ability - from total beginners to skilled professional climbers - to attend.

Ms Key, said: “Our festival gives everyone a chance to increase their skills and get into the sport.”

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The sixth annual Women’s Trad Festival took place on August 6-8 (pic: Charlie Low)

“We welcome all ages, all abilities and all genders. You might have never put on rock climbing shoes, or you might be an outdoor instructor looking to progress. We try to make sure that we are a very inclusive community to help everyone develop their climbing, regardless of who they are or their level of experience,” she added.

The festival focuses on three core values that the organisers are passionately committed to investing in year-on-year: mental wellbeing, sustainability and accessibility.

With climbing becoming more popular owing to its inclusion in the Olympics this year, Hetty believes it is important that the festival continues to empower women, facilitate safe transitions from indoor to outdoor climbing and inspire the climbers of the future.

Shauna Coxsey, the first climber to join Team GB, trained at Sheffield Climbing Hangar, a state of the art indoor climbing facility that is due to open to the public later this year.

Attendees were partnered with qualified climbing instructors and took part in sessions focused on technique, skill and safety.

She said: “I feel very proud that climbing is now an Olympic sport. Having role models like Shauna paving the way is so inspiring, and within the festival we try to create future role models.”

Climbers at this year’s festival visited locations in the Peak District including Stanage Edge, Burbage and Surprise View.

Attendees were partnered with qualified climbing instructors and took part in sessions focused on technique, skill and safety.

Breaking Barriers workshops enabled experienced climbers to help overcome obstacles in their progression, while Self Rescue workshops equipped climbers with necessary safety skills.

The festival was based at Clark Farms, Hangram Lane, Sheffield.

The evening featured ‘hay bale sessions’ with talks on sustainability from Sheffield-based outdoor brand Rab, amongst others.

The festival encourages attendees to be as ‘low impact’ as possible by suggesting travelling to the site via bike or public transport, is entirely solar-powered, and provides extensive recycling facilities and composting toilets.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own reusable cups and crockery.

The festival has grown vastly in popularity since 2016 when founders Ellie and Charlie gathered with 67 attendees under a borrowed marquee in a field.

Climbers visited locations in the Peak District including Stanage Edge, Burbage and Surprise View.

Its aim remains the same however - to create an inclusive, safe space that allows learners to build relationships, confidence and a sense of community.

The Women’s Trad Festival is well attended by members of the LGBTQ+ community and those of marginalised gender.

Subsidised tickets and free-to-use kits help combat financial barriers faced by some attendees, while parent and child classes allow for mothers to come along without the worry of childcare.

For more information, visit here or follow @womenstradfestival on Instagram.