Friday 23 April 2010

And so on to Church Beck. Saturday April 17th 2010

Chris Senior and his mates, Ryan, Olly & Harry were up in the Lake District for a weekend of activity and having been ghyll scrambling at Stoneycroft Gill near Keswick decided they wanted to do it again but this time, they wanted someting better.

Chris found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website and its references to Church Beck and liked what he saw - promptly booking a half day ghyll scrambling session with us.

Here, the guys are about to commence heading up the gill which is the way we usually start ghyll scrambling (also known as gill scrambling or gorge walking) sessions at Church Beck.

An ascent of Church Beck generally ends at the chockstone pitch (see last photo on this post)
although it is possible to be roped up the l/h side of that pitch in order to do the slide.

However, the better option is to exit the ghyll and walk up to the very top, get in below the hydro take off point and descend back to below the chockstone pitch.

Here, Olly begins a short slide into a pool whilst Harry looks on and Chris has already discovered that the pool at the slide's foot is rather deeper than it looks!

Just beyond the last photograph, we get to the first lower over an 8 foot waterfall into a fairly deep pool. It is quicker to be lowered here rather than abseil which takes longer to set up and dismantle whilst people are standing around getting cold - best to keep moving as much as possible!

Here Harry is lowered, watched by Olly & Ryan below.

The second lower down a rather larger waterfall is below Miners Bridge. Here, Chris is the last person down whilst the other three watch from the bottom.

Just downstream from this point is where the gorge narrows in and we do the waterfall jumps followed by the final slide down the last fall to where we initially left the gorge heading upstream.

This waterfall down which the guys have been lowered can also be climbed - if you fancy having a go at that option - just ask!

The final obstacle on the descent (and the limit of ascent!) Chris, Olly and Harry look on from the top of the chockstone at Ryan who has just made the descent (see the wet streak on the chockstone!) sliding down and then dropping into the pool below.

It is essential to land in the middle of the pool as there are ledges on either side just below water level and people have injured themselves here.

Always make sure you use a knowledgeable and reputable guide when ghyll scrambling such as one of the guys from Kendal Mountaineering Services and you can be assured of an enjoyable but above all, safe session where risk assessment is uppermost in the mind of your guide.

Chris and his mates enjoyed themselves and have posted their thoughts in the comments section below. Click the link to read what they said.

Ghyll scrambling half day session, Tuesday April 12th 2010

Two days after kayaking on Windermere, Iain joined Jon & Rob, (father & son) who, whilst on holiday from Berkshire and staying in the Ullswater valley had booked a half day ghyll scrambling session with Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Here, the guys have been kitted up with what we provide you for your ghyll scrambling session as part of the fee which includes walking boots, a wetsuit, a cagoule, a bouyancy aid and a helmet & harness.

Iain believes all of this kit is necessary for a safe & enjoyable session and particularly considers that wetsuits are important not only to keep you warm but protect your legs and that walking boots are the best form of footwear in the ghyll.

Here, Jon clambers up one of the many small waterfalls to be found in this particular ghyll. This is just one of many venues Kendal Mountaineering Services use throughout the Lake District and basically wherever you are staying Iain & the team will know of a suitable ghyll in the area meaning that you don't have to travel miles to come to us!

Ghyll scrambling is also known as gorge scrambling or gorge walking and this generally implies walking up a stream bed however, sometimes a descent is possible as in Stoneycroft Gill in the Newlands Valley or Church beck in the Coniston area which is definitely one of the best wet trips in the Lake District and one where you'll frequently find us.

Towards the top of this ghyll there is an excellent slide into a deep circular pool - basically a giant "kettle hole".

Kettle holes are formed when smaller stones gather in a depression on bedrock in a stream bed and are caused, by the flow of water, to move around in a circular fashion. In doing so they wear away the rock and deepen the depression to form a circular hole or pot. Over time, more stones get washed into the hole and the water continues to swill them around and erode the hole deeper - look out for these when you are in a ghyll!

This particular kettle hole that the guys are in is thousands of years old, deep enough to swim in and approx 15 feet across and excellent for a bit of fun!

Finally, whilst having yet another go at the waterslide Rob disappears altogether - apart from his feet! Having just slid down the waterslide on his back, he then sank out of sight just as this shot was taken.

He did, however resurface almost immediately with a look of surprise on his face.

Just beyond this point is the get out as the stream splits into two - neither branch being that exciting, so we descended via the old quarry track back to the Land Rover to get changed and have a welcome hot drink.

Jon & Rob thoroughly enjoyed themselves and will be recommending us to others in the future.

Kayaking half day session. Sunday 11th April 2010

After the ghyll scrambling session the previous day, Iain was out again with Charlotte Johnson and her friend Heather who had booked with Kendal Mountaineering Services for a half day kayaking session.

Seeing as they were staying near Windermere Iain arranged to meet them at Waterhead near Ambleside and, as Charlotte had specifically asked for some easy moving water action - do some flatwater skills on the Lower Brathay and then move on to the rapids at Brathay Bridge or the Rothay play wave.

In this shot we are heading across a rather choppy Windermere to the shelter of the lower Brathay

It was a nice afternoon despite the breeze on the Lake and once on the Rothay Iain taught the pair the basic paddling skills for handling a kayak.

Here Heather demonstrates the correct body and paddling position for moving a kayak sideways ie a draw stroke.

Charlotte had prior experience of kayaking but this was Heather's first time in one of these craft and she did extremely well.

Eventually we moved up river to look at some moving water skills such as breaking into and out of eddies and ferry gliding before tackling the nice easy section of grade one/two water just above Brathay Bridge which can be seen here behind Charlotte.

Charlotte had just travelled down current and "broken in" to the area of slack water (the eddy) we see her sat in here. Charlotte then turned the kayak to her left and paddled upstream into the current, tilting the craft downstream as she did so as the current turned her down river (known as breaking out).

This skills takes some practising to get it right. Charlotte enjoyed it so much she returned for another three goes!

A nice moving water shot looking upstream from the same eddy, just as Heather comes in to hit it smack bang on!

For someone who had not done this before this was a steep learing curve for Heather but one which Iain thought she could achieve.

Heather thoroughly enjoyed herself and perfomed extremely well. Although initially suffering from a common difficulty to get the kayak to go in a straight line, on the way back to the get out not only was she travelling in a straight line but she was also well ahead of the rest of us - good effort!

Here Charlotte gets well & truly rehydrated having just had a go at an eskimo rescue and she went on to have another 3 goes at this.

The eskimo rescue takes place if you capsize but do not want to exit your kayak and there are others nearby. Basically you bang the sides of your boat and then "feel" for the nose of someone else's kayak who has come in to help you. Finding such a nose you then put your hand on top and roll yourself rightside up as Charlotte has just done here - a very challenging exercise.

Both girls thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon with Iain and thought the session excellent value for money especially with all of the equipment and opportunities provided.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Ghyll scrambling/canyoning half day session. Church Beck Coniston, Saturday April 10th

Iain was back in Church Beck on Saturday with Heidi, Ryan & Corey who had travelled up from Northamptonshire for a weekend away.
Heidi had found Kendal Mountaineering Services on the web, she had been ghyll scrambling before and liked what she saw on our site, so decided to book a half day ghyll scrambling session with us.
Having done the ascent of church beck as far as the chockstone waterfall, Iain & the team followed with the descent - starting at the hydro- electric scheme water take off point which can be seen in this photo.

After only 50M or so downstream
from the hydro-electric dam you arrive at the first abseil as seen in our second photo. It is only a matter of 15 feet or so although you do finish waist deep in pool at the bottom - very refreshing on a nice warm day such as this one

Below the first abseil you continue on another 200M under Miner's Bridge to arrive at the second abseil down a much higher waterfall into a relatively shallow pool.
In this 3rd photograph, Corey descends the second abseil whilst Ryan & Heidi look on.
When we arrived here another team were climbing up the waterfall - a relatively easy and exhilarating experience - perfectly safe on a top rope and also something you can do with us!
The 4th picture is an action shot taken in the narrow section of the gorge. Having completed the descent of the first waterfall Corey leaps down the second fall into the second pool. It is essential to leap well out here as the waterfall hides a rock immediately below and people have been known to injure themselves. Today Iain felt it was safe to make the jump with the party he was working with.
Finally, our last photo today shows Corey at the foot of the chockstone fall having had a session which turned out be be much better than initially expected - in fact it turned out that as us usual, we exceeded our clients expectations.
This is something we always strive to achieve. With Kendal Mountaineering Services you can expect an ascent of the Church Beck ravine followed by a descent whereas some other providers will give you one or the other option for your money, but we will always try to give you the most action packed and value for money experience possible.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Stag & Hen events in The Lake District. Open Canoeing session, Middle Derwent, Easter Saturday 2010

On Easter Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services ran an introduction to moving water open canoeing course for the party pictured here. They had come to the Lake District for a hen weekend and wanted some outdoor activites but not as part of a rigid Hen or Stag event package.

We were also asked to provide lunch for the group and here they enjoy soup & sandwiches prior to starting the session. We also provided tea, coffee, hot chocolate and soft drinks as well as cake, biscuits & fruit - so there was something for everyone to enjoy and plenty left for the end of the session. Kirstin's cranberry & macadamia flapjack was a firm favourite with everyone!

After lunch, we got changed and unloaded the canoes to the starting point just upstream from the Portinscale footbridge near Keswick before quickly shuttling the Land Rover and trailer and cars to near our get out at Low Stock Bridge.
Back at the get in, Iain showed the group paddling strokes such as breaking into & out of eddies, ferry gliding and draw strokes amongst other skills and these were practised before we began our journey down river.
This shot shows the group having a brief stop under the A66 roadbridge. None of them were new to moving water - all having been in kayaking courses at some time in the past and a few had been in Canadian canoes too. They were all keen and enthusiastic and a fab group to work with.

The forecast for the day was showers & sunny spells with a max temp of 10 degrees c. This view looks from the river to Skiddaw 3058 feet - the highest hill to the north of Keswick and Iain was quite surprised by the amount of snow remaining on the mountains indicating that temperatures up there were obviously still around the freezing mark.
The day started with quite a few showers, but by the time the group arrived, the weather was improving. There was only a light breeze and the river level was moderate - making it a very pleasant paddle indeed.

This section of the river Derwent - the middle Derwent is approximately 3km long and a very pleasant grade one with the odd bit of two. The gradient eases towards its juncture with Bassenthwaite Lake and there are plenty of places to learn the necessary basic skills for river running.
Iain took this shot of the group after they had all just descended a slightly faster part of the river which ended up with "strainers" on river right and river centre. Hazard recognition and avoidance are part of all Kendal Mountaineering Services outdoor activity courses and having coached the group on how to approach this particular section - all three canoes were successful in making it safely to this point.

Here, we had arrived at Low Stock Bridge - our get out point. Along the way we had seen some beautiful views of the surounding mountains and seen a lot of aquatic birdlife - all in peace & tranquility.
All that remained now was to get the canoes the 500M to the vehicles which took a while but everyone pitched in.
We then returned to Portinscale bridge to pack up and eat more flapjack. The party were intending to hillwalk on the Sunday and Iain hopes it didn't turn out to be too chilly for them. They thoroughly enjoyed their open canoe session with us and the lunch we provided - with one party member saying that they should have got us to cater the whole weekend for them!