The Lake District’s number one tour operator, Mountain Goat, celebrated its 40th anniversary with a celebratory afternoon tea on Sunday, May 13, which produced a poignant presentation of a gift, which nobody was expecting.
Mountain Goat’s current management team, employees, friends and family had all gathered at Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in Bowness, to welcome the original founder of the company, Chris Taylor, former employees and contacts and honoured guests including Lord and Lady Clark of Windermere.
The event showcased the last 40 years of the company, which started transporting local people and visitors around the Lake District back in 1972, when bus services had been greatly curtailed and travelling between villages was increasingly problematic.
Although Mountain Goat had already collected a large amount of historical material and memorabilia, thanks to its own archives and kind submissions from various local organisations and individuals, owners Peter Nattrass and Stephen Broughton were taken aback by a special gift brought along and presented by former employee, Peter Sketch.
Peter stepped forward to present a small statue of a mountain goat standing on a rock, which was one of two pieces made by himself and another former employee, Peter Evans. Both spent one of the early winters of the company’s operation kitting out Mountain Goat buses and were employed as drivers during the summer months.
Peter Evans has sadly passed away and the whereabouts of his statuette is unknown, but Peter Sketch felt the 40th anniversary of Mountain Goat to be a fitting time to donate his figurine to the current owners of the company. This will now be placed on display at Mountain Goat’s newly refurbished offices in Windermere, so that others can take pleasure from seeing it.
Mountain Goat’s owners Peter Nattrass and Stephen Broughton say: “This touching donation was representative of the mood of this event, which has brought a Mountain Goat family back together to share stories and recollections and contribute valuable oral history for our business. We feel honoured to have been gifted something which Peter Sketch has held dear for so many years and which has associations with his own memories of his former colleague and his time with Mountain Goat”.
Lord Clark of Windermere helped cut a celebratory cake and said a few words at the event and summed up the occasion by talking of the regard with which Mountain Goat is held within the local community and its vital role within Lake District tourism. He also mentioned the many conversations he has had with overseas visitors, who all remark on how much they have appreciated Mountain Goat’s help in making the inaccessible accessible and the value that the company’s knowledgeable drivers have added to their time in the Lakes.
Mountain Goat has other 40th birthday initiatives in the pipeline, including a schools art competition to win a day out with Mountain Goat and a special heritage open days tour, which will raise money for Nurture Lakeland. It has also launched a new ‘Swallows and Amazons’ tour, to help mark its 40th anniversary. More information is available at www.mountain-goat.com