Turning the clocks back has never been so much fun!

When the clocks go back in autumn there is often a sense of foreboding as we anticipate the darker nights, frosty mornings and long winter ahead.

However, for one north Cumbrian town, the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year is embraced and celebrated with an elaborate festival which sees thousands of visitors take to the streets to dress up and make merry.

The Winter Droving Festival in Penrith follows a centuries old tradition marking the droving of animals to the final market of the year. It is a celebration of rural life, fire, food and community spirit which sees the town transformed into a medieval market, with street performers, music, mayhem and a magical torchlit parade. This year, A Wilderness Way were delighted to attend the festival to join in the fun and celebrate with our community.

A highlight of the festival is the ‘Drovers Cup’ competition, where teams compete in rounds such as haybale racing, tug-o-war and mashed potato eating.

A Wilderness Way sponsored the Cup this year, and we also entered a team of intrepid ‘Wilderness Warriors’.

They fought bravely over 5 rounds, claiming victory in 3 events and eventually finishing in third place. Much fun was had by all, and they did AWW proud!

The festival is also famous for the elaborate costumes and masks worn by the revellers, which feature everything from shepherds to mythical beasts to ancient druids. This year we invited visitors to our stall at the festival to make their own masks, and it was fantastic to see their wonderful creations.

Some of the children we look after also created beautiful masks for us to wear and share on the day, which enabled them to learn about the importance of the festival to their community.

For us, the festival was not only a celebration of the Cumbrian community, but also a celebration of our community at A Wilderness Way. As always, our magnificent teams and children came together with joy, enthusiasm and team spirit, demonstrating the CARE values that we hold so dear and representing everything we stand for at AWW.

Thank you Eden Arts, we had a fabulous time and we are looking forward to returning next year to see if we can claim victory in the Cup!

If you would like to join our amazing team at AWW would love to hear from you.  Please find our current vacancies here.

What Others Say About Us

I am truly taken aback by the level of care you have shown. The staff have gone out of their way to show him the attention and care that he has never had. When I visited him, it was like I was looking at a different child to what he was before he came. He was not like a child in care, he was like a child in a family. You have literally saved his life.

Social Worker

All children and young people thrive, and they make progress while living at the home. Because of the services provided the children and young people experience an individualised, stable and consistent home life. Children and young people benefit from the integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to education and care. They each achieve their full potential and, in many cases, do so beyond previous expectations.


I am so grateful to the AWW team for their dedication and commitment to caring and supporting Sam. He recently reported that being at there gave him the space to think and the opportunity to reflect on his attitude and make plans for his future.

Social Worker

I have to share my delight at Luke’s progress at AWW. Thanks to your support, in the last 17 weeks Luke and has turned his life around significantly. From where he has come from to where he is now, I am so proud of him.

Social Worker

The placement was really good and beneficial to me. The staff were all really supportive and nice and always made themselves available to me if I had any problems. The outdoor activities that were offered helped me to have a better outlook and showed me that I can do so much more in life, and it really helped me process and made me feel like a better person.


As METCO Officer for Cumbria Police I have regular contact with the team at AWW in relation to vulnerable children at risk of CSE and going missing. If a specific incident has occurred, the Home Manager and I speak on the phone to discuss the best way forward. She also attends CSE risk assessment meetings and we receive Philomena Protocol forms when a young person arrives in placement.

Cumbria Police