[T]he All England Open Stone Skimming Championships, taking place between 11am and 4pm on Saturday August 19, at National Trust Fell Foot Park near Newby Bridge in Cumbria, has revealed a brand new feature aimed at helping children improve their chances of recording a great skim distance on this wonderful day in the Lake District calendar.
The National Trust is to nurture young skimming talent by laying on tuition classes, using Frisbees, which will give children tips on the technique to use when stone skimming. Adults who also wish to pick up guidance on what to do can listen in, with no loss of face, as they chaperone their children to the session!
Frisbees will take the place of Lakeland stones in these tutorials, to ensure there are enough stones to be skimmed by contestants. The rules of the All England Stone Skimming Championships, organised by South Cumbria’s River Trust as a means of raising funds for vital conservation work, are that only local Lakeland stones can be skimmed. Stones also have to be no more than three inches in diameter, which means lots of hard work collecting the right size of stone before the sporting event takes place.
Some people who will not be requiring tips are the title-holding and ex-champion stone skimmers travelling to Windermere to try to achieve the longest throw. These include reigning champion, Ron Long, colloquially known as the ‘Old Tosser’, former champion Kevin Waltham, current Shropshire championships champion, Alex Lewis, and women’s skimmers, Charlotte Greenaway and Heather Ashton.
These skimmers will take on all-comers in the men’s and women’s competitions, but children who have honed their technique with the Frisbee – and those who are already gifted in the art of stone skimming – can enter Under 10s and 11-16s categories. Last year, competitors in the 11-16s category skimmed a longer distance than the winning women’s competitor.
All competitors will not just have to throw Lakeland stones provided, but also abide by other sporting rules. All skims must stay within a lane marked out on the water and a stone must skip on the water’s surface a minimum of three times. All skimmers start from the same position on the water’s edge and the winner is the competitor whose skim attempt is in line with the rules, then travelling the furthest distance before disappearing into the waters of Windermere.
Children can have three attempts for a £1 entrance fee and adults pay £3. Contestants can enter as many times as they wish, if they feel they could go just that little bit further with another trio of stones. This feat might be assisted by a quick nutritional boost from sponsor, Kendalife – a highly nutritious superfruit smoothie shake meal replacement and exercise supplement made in Kendal – that contestants will be able to sample on the day.
Speaking on behalf of South Cumbria Rivers Trust, Trustee Julius Barratt says: “Stone skimming is growing as a sport with each passing year, with championships now taking place across Europe. We want to help bring through a new generation of stone skimmers, to ensure that the love of the sport continues into the future, with these young skimmers one day teaching children and grandchildren of their own.
“In a world filled with computer games and technology, there is nothing as gratifying as the sight of children having simple fun skimming stones, whether that is on a river, lake, or seashore. Skimming is an art we need to retain and something that gets children outdoors, rather than sitting in front of a screen all day. We are delighted that the National Trust is helping us to nurture keen young skimmers.”
More information about the event is at www.scrt.co.uk
The skimming tuition is provided in return for a donation to the National Trust, to support its valuable work.