Taking a risk pays off for Lake District adventure business

Published on
29 June 2021

A Lake District entrepreneur who decided to take a risk and press ahead with investments in his adventure business despite lockdown uncertainty is reaping the benefits.

As many British holidaymakers look to more local getaways, business is booming for The Adventure Element run by Ben Keen.

This Penrith-based business offers families, friends, and individuals the opportunity to take part in activities such as ghyll scrambling, rock climbing, mountain biking and canoeing. As well as expeditions for students completing their Duke of Edinburgh award.

And, if their reopening in June is anything to go by, the next couple of months are going to be non-stop for staff at the adventure and expedition specialist business.

Ben Keen, managing director, said: “It’s been bonkers. We re-opened on June 7 and we had a very busy week with various people on expeditions and we’ve had various families on activities.

“From now, all the way through to the summer, it just gets busier and busier.

“We’re actually seeing more business than in previous years. I think people have got a hunger to get out and do stuff.

“Obviously, people have been locked down so they’re wanting to go on activities, get outside, and be away with their families.”

When the roadmap to recovery was set-out by the government earlier this year, Mr Keen decided to take a risk. And, it paid off.

He said: “I decided to do all of my planning for this season, booking all of our resources - equipment, accommodation, and campsites - and getting all of my staff in place whilst keeping my fingers crossed that it was all going to happen, that we weren’t going to be locked down again.

“That risk has really paid off because we’re in a far stronger position now coming into a busy summer than some of our competitors who didn’t take that risk and now, they’re struggling to book campsites and get staff.”

It certainly hasn’t been an easy year for The Adventure Element.

They have been unable to run the bulk of their services for most of the last year and a half, although they did re-open last year from July to October with a limited number of expeditions.

On top of that, as the sole director of a limited company, Mr Keen was not eligible for any government support grants. He had to invest his own money into keeping the business afloat.

Mr Keen said: “Financially, we have been struggling over the past 12 months but we’ve made it work and the business hasn’t collapsed.

“I was very conscious that we had people who had paid us a deposit and schools that had paid us deposits.

“I didn’t want to dip into those deposits, that would have been wrong of me, in order to keep the business afloat.”

But, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The huge upturn in business during the summer months will get The Adventure Element through the quieter winter months as well as help Mr Keen recuperate the money that he has invested into it.

“It’s gone from zero to hero pretty much overnight.”

Christine Bushby, senior business account specialist at The Cumberland Building Society, said: “In the six years that we have been supporting The Adventure Element, it has gone from strength to strength.

“To see it bounce back after what has been a difficult year for many businesses is a positive sign. We hope Ben Keen and his team continue to have a busy and successful summer.”

Find out more about The Adventure Element here.