Sunday 29 August 2010

Canadian Canoeing sessions in the Lake District. August 24th 2010

Iain was back out the next day organising another Lake District based introductory Canadian canoeing session - once again on Windermere, but this time with Andy Sinclair & his son Chris who were on holiday from North Wales.

The family were staying near Kendal so Iain opted to meet them at Waterhead again, but this time there was plenty of free parking - its knowing where to look!

Andy had booked a full day's outing so Iain decided to look at a flat water skills session on the lake with the option of moving water stuff in the afternoon and this first shot shows the pair shortly after starting the session on Windermere.

At first, the weather was showery and blustery in showers, but between them Andy & Chris managed to handle their Canadian canoe very well (well - Andy was doing most of the work most of the time!) and, as the morning went on, the weather improved and the sun came out - warming things up nicely.

After lunch we headed up the River Brathay to Brathay Bridge & the nice easy rapid beyond to look at an intro to moving water skills session. Chris particularly enjoyed this and so after a while there we headed down the Brathay & up the Rothay to what is commonly known as the "Rothay play wave" - a place where a low sloping wear produces a fine surfing wave in the right conditions.

Iain reckoned conditions were about right and they were - in shot 2 Chris & Andy can be seen enjoying a spot of surfing on the wave. With the right skill set people can have as much fun in a Canadian canoe as you can have in a much smaller kayak!

In shot 3 Andy & Chris run the "play wave" from above as they had done several times on the rapid above Brathay Bridge. There is less "setting up" involved to run the Rothay play wave - you just run down the middle of it without too much difficulty but the Brathay Bridge rapid is different
as you have to keep "river right" as you descend around the right hand bend - otherwise you finish up amongst rocks on the outside of the bend as Andy & Chris did on their very first descent.

However, by run three, the pair managed a clear line straight down the middle of the rapid without hitting anything - well done!

The final shot of the day on a sunny River Rothay just to show the more pleasant side of Canadian canoeing in the Lake District!

Andy & Chris are in front - heading for the junction with the River Brathay as we finish our day with a short river journey before a final blast back across the head of Windermere to Waterhead.

Canadian canoes are fantastic craft for canoe expeditions. Probably the best expedition in the UK is the descent of the River Spey in Scotland - 88 miles done over 3 or 4 days with overnight tented camps inbetween each day. Kendal Mountaineering services can organise such trips for you if required - contact us for details.

Iain has since been out on yet another Church Beck Ghyll Scrambling session yesterday, but it was too wet to take a digital camera - must get a waterproof camera soon!

We have plenty of availability for all manner of activity sessions - wet or dry over the coming months - so get in touch and let us arrange your adventure experience for you by visiting our website where you can browse the many options that we offer.

See you soon.

Iain & the Kendal Mountaineering Services team.

Canadian canoeing session in the lake District. August 23rd 2010

August here in the Lake District, has, as many of our visitors will have found out, been a relatively wet month, but even if it's wet it doesn't mean you can't find an appropriate activity session with Kendal Mountaineering Services.

We have been busy recently running ghyll (gorge) scrambling sessions, canyoning sessions and Canadian canoeing & kayaking sessions here in the Lake District - thus allowing people to have fun even in the rain.

Audrey Small from Dundee & Jennifer Birch from Cambridge - two old university chums met & and booked a half day session with Iain and had a great time despite the weather. As can be seem from the top photo here - Jenny & Audrey looked decidedly bedraggled as it was raining heavily when we started the session but it soon cleared up.

The pair had originally contacted Kendal Mountaineering Services looking for Canadian Canoe hire & it's worth noting that we do hire out canoes & kayaks for Lake District based sessions. However, we won't allow you to do this unsupervised if you haven't done it before.

With Audrey & Jenny - Jenny had canoed before many years ago but Audrey was new to the sport so Iain insisted that he went along and we think that the pair would agree that it was a good idea. As well as giving the pair a basic introduction to canoeing skills, Iain also showed them some games & challenges and in photo two the pair attempt to balance the canoe whilst sat facing each other in the middle of the boat. The idea is to both lean over backwards - synchronised style; and dip one's head in the water - and then sit up together again - without capsizing the boat. It didn't work! Audrey sat up again too quickly causing Jenny to fall backwards into the water but neither seemed bothered, in fact they spent the whole session laughing!

Unfortunately, there had been no parking at Waterhead when the team had met up to start the session so it was either pay silly money in the National Park car park or park elsewhere - fortunately Iain knew somewhere. This had actually allowed us to start off with any easy moving water skills session and finish with one too. So all in all, a fully action packed Canadion caneing session for the pair with lots of skills input and plenty of variety.

In this final shot we were just about to get off the river and Iain isn't sure what Audrey was trying to say but he is sure it was something to the effect of what a wondeful time the pair had had.

Check out our Canadian canoeing page to book your session with us.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Ghyll scrambling & canyoning, Church Beck, Coniston, the Lake District, August 15th 2010

Today dawned hot and sunny - in fact for the first time in weeks, it felt like summer really had returned. Iain would like to think we now get no more rain until at least the end of October when actually, it starts to snow instead!
Anyway, today, Iain found himself with two other instructors fielding a group of 19 strapping chaps for whom we were providing a half day ghyll scrambling session in Church Beck in the Lake District.
After a rugby match in Kendal the previous day, the lads had a rather heavy night out in town and some were clearly feeling the worse for wear. Hmm - dehydration and hot sun - not a good combination!

Clearly, the only thing to do was to get the guys rehydrated and cooled off as quickly as possible; and it was amazing how once in Church Beck - even the most severely afflicted perked up! There is clearly nothing to beat a ghyll scrambling session in the Lake District as a hangover cure!
For once, Iain was not at the sharp end on this trip. We took the guys upstream and exited as usual below the chockstone pitch. One instructor then lowered the guys down the big waterfall below Miners Bridge and the other set up the lower by the top jump. Iain stationed himself below the top jump to field people doing the middle jump and the chockstone pitch and for once was able to take shots from below.
The second shot shows a chap who has just been lowered by the instructor in the top r/h of the shot to about 6 feet below him. The client then unclipped, jumped another 6 feet; and then swam towards Iain. He had clearly enjoyed the experience.
Looking at this shot, you can see why Iain of Kendal Mountaineering services doesn't like clients jumping this top fall and yet he sees other groups being allowed to do it all the time! People jumping from the top leap from the boulder to the left of the top of the waterfall and you can see how it narrows in below - with potential for bashing the left wall of the slot as you fall in.
Thankfully, the other two instructors are in agreeance with Iain as to how the top jump should be tackled; and so all of the lads came via that way.

Shot three - a view of the slide down the chockstone pitch of Church beck. Sit at the bottom of the picture and then just lie back and let yourself go. This was the exact place where only some four days before, some idiot allowed his clients to go face first. In discussion with other people industry, we have all concluded that allowing people to descend this pitch in such a manner could lead to neck injuries.

In the final shot, Ritchie - who had organised this ghyll scrambling & canyoning trip in Church Beck slides off from exactly where the last shot was taken. Ritchie & all of the guys from Dundee High School FP RFC thoroughly enjoyed their session with us and many felt considerably better afterwards. Ian was somewhat surprised to hear that they weren't straight off to the pub for another beer, but - apparently not!

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Ghyll scrambling.canyoning session in the Lake District, Church Beck, Coniston, August 11th 2010

Sarah & Graeme Brooks found the Kendal Mountaineering Services when looking for a canyoning adventure in the Lake District and liked what they saw. As they were staying in south lakeland, Iain suggested that Church Beck might be a fitting option and and met them and their children Corey & Caitlin at Coniston on what was another showery Lake District day; although it didn't matter about the weather - we were going to get wet anyway!

Having done the upstream ghyll scrambling section as far as the chockstone pitch, Iain & the party headed up to the top, got harnesses on; and headed downstream and this first picture of the family is just downstream from the first lower - on the way to Miner's Bridge.

The second photo shows Caitlin about to be lowered down the second waterfall on their canyoning adventure whilst Graeme looks on. Water levels were moderate despite the many showers we have had here in the Lake District over the last week and certainly were much lower than when Iain had been in the Ghyll the previous weekend with another group.

Picture No3 shows a nice view of the waterfall that is the scene of the second lower during the canyoning descent of church beck. The tree growing out of the right hand bank immediately above the top of the fall is that used for the anchor by instructors when lowering individuals who trend left in this view down the l/h side of the fall to the bottom.
Anyway, having gotten all family members down, Iain felt this would be a nice addition to their picture album of the event - we always give clients copies of any pictures taken during any activity they take with us.

In the final shot, Sarah slides off the chockstone into the pool below. Doing the Church Beck jumps was quite a challenge for Sarah but she did very well along with the rest of the family who were all very satisfied with their Lake District ghyll scrambling & canyoning session. Anyway, we exited the gorge by the next safe point and headed back to the vehicles to get changed and enjoy the hot drink provided by Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Iain has seen all sorts of goings on in Church Beck but it was only Graeme's comments about the group following us that made him realise that their instructor - a well known local individual, was encouraging his group members to slide down the chockstone pitch head first! Iain has considerable misgivings about the wisdom & safety of tackling this pitch this way and would certainly not have allowed it himself! You can always be assured of a safe and properly risk assessed session with us as we only run our sessions with experienced & competent staff.
For more information about our Lake District ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions check out our website at and and to book your session contact us at 01539 737332/07761 483364 or at

Monday 9 August 2010

Beginners rock climbing session in the Lake District. Hutton Roof, 9th August 2010

Iain spent the last weekend working for others as he does on occasion - on the shores of Coniston Water with a bunch of young people from the Lancashire town of Blackburn. We ghyll scrambled in Church Beck, did lots of ropes course stuff in the centre grounds and then finished the weekend off with a journey up the lake in a large 12 seater canoe - fab!

On Monday, Iain met sisters Alex & Danielle who wanted to try climbing out on real rock and picked Kendal Mountaineering Services to deliver the goods. Iain chose Hutton Roof as the venue as it is a great place to introduce people to the sport of rock climbing with there being a lot of easy and not very high routes to choose from.

It soon became clear to Iain that the pair were competent at belaying each other and obviously worked well together as a pair. Here, Danielle smiles for the camera as she is lowered back down to the ground by Alex. In fact the pair smiled throughout the session and made up for the grey and threatening weather. Hutton roof sits about three miles east of the M6 at Junction 36 and is reached from the A65. The whole area is made up of large beds of carboniferous limestone and the outcrop which gets climbed on is just below the summit of the highest hill in the locality.

From where we were, Iain could see that it was raining heavily everywhere else, but apart from a short spell of drizzle, the rocks at Hutton Roof remained dry - allowing Alex & Danielle over three hours to climb to their hearts content.

In this final shot Alex tackles the hardest climb Iain was to offer the pair.
The session was very simple to run as Iain employed a "top rope, bottom belaying system" through out the session. This system involves setting up an anchor point up at the top of the route through which the rope hangs - both ends at the foot of the route. The climber ties on to one end and the belayer takes the other end in as the climber climbs. Once at the top of the route (ie when the climber can reach up and touch the karabiners that their rope hangs from) the belayer lowers the climber back to the ground. Top rope bottom belaying is a great system for getting people to work together, to communicate and to trust each other whilst learning new skills - and climbing!
Alex & Danielle climbed seven routes with Iain on this day and thoroughly enjoyed their introduction to rock climbing course with us here in the Lake District.
To find out more about our rock climbing courses go to www.kendalmountaineeringservices/pages/climbing.php where you can find out about our beginners, single pitch, multi-pitch and guided half & full day climbing sessions.
We look forward to working with you.

Ghyll scrambling in the Lake District with Exemouth Explorer Scouts. Stoneycroft Gill, Keswick. 6th August 2010.

Friday saw Iain back into the fray again with another group - a large one for a change! Group leader Esther Workman had "Googled" ghyll scrambling in the Lake District and had found the Kendal Mountaineering Services. Liking what she saw, she booked the group's session with us and due to the size of the group we quoted a very good price - only fair given the size of the party and its well worth remembering with us that the more people you bring to us - the more money you'll save.

Anyway, this group were all members of the Exemouth & Budleigh Explorer Scout Group and were on holiday here in the Lake District. Whilst here, other activities tried included mountain biking, canoeing & kayaking and they had all climbed Scafell Pike - England's highest peak - a truly busy week!

Unfortuately for the party, the weather during the week had been somewhat wet at times and Friday was no exception with rain visible in all the valleys around us and whilst we were dry, the weather eventually closed in on us too - but of course it didn't matter by then, we were already wet - soaked in fact as this shot shows when the group found Stoneycroft's first bottomless pool and all piled in - literally!

Further on, the chaps all enjoyed the backwards water slide and splashed Iain & his camera in the progress - not that it wasn't damp already.

Shortly afterwards, the group arrived at the first waterfall jump and at this point Iain felt it prudent to put the camera way before it stopped working.
The group continued all the way to the foot of Stoneycroft Gill in about another hour and a half and they all thoroughly enjoyed their ghyll scrambling session with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
To book your ghyll scrambling session (also known as gorge walking) with us here in the Lake District, contact us via the site at . We have plenty of availability for your groups and families and a wet session canoeing, kayaking or ghyll scrambling might be just what you are looking for in this wet weather. We are proof that you can have fun in the rain!

Beginners Kayaking session for two. Ullswater, The Lake District, 5th August 2010.

Pictured here are Anne Maria Fallon & her son Ian who, whilst staying in the Lake District, fancied trying out a kayaking session and booked theirs with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
As with the recent session Iain posted about at the end of July, we chose the head of Ullswater as the venue and spent the morning learning the basic kayaking strokes before going on a journey up the lake as far as Wall Holme - the Lakes 3rd largest (out of four) island. We then returned to the head of the lake for some lunch.

Ian had been kayaking only once before, but showed considerable enthusiuasm for learing new skills. After lunch, having mastered the basics, it was time to show the pair some more advanced strokes and here - Ian is practising a support stroke called a scull in which the paddle blade is swept backwards & forwards across the surface of the lake with the leading edge always angled uppermost to keep the blade on the surface. As can be seen - Ian had the kayak off balance and was balancing his weight on to the paddle - he certainly would have capsized otherwise. Learning to "scull" is a pre-requisite for other advanced support strokes such as the "high brace" and for when it all fails - the "eskimo roll"!

The pair wanted to get some moving water practice done too, so we headed up Goldril Beck - Ullswater's main feeder only to find it was very low indeed - surprising after the recent rains. Anyway, in photo 3 we had all gotten fed up of climbing in & out of our kayaks when it got too shallow to paddle and it was easier to sit on top - if a little less stable! We paddled & dragged our boats a mile up Goldril Beck before arriving at a deep pool where photo 4 was taken.

Finally, a great shot of Ian preparing to go "all the way" with the "eskimo rescue". In this technique - having capsized your kayak - you then feel for the nose of someone else's kayak and then roll yourself back upright. This is quite challenging for the beginner, but you just need to remain calm and remember that you can actually hold your breath for quite a long time underwater. Anyway, after a long day out with plenty of variety, fun and a bit of adrenaline, Anne Marie & Ian were happy to call it a day - having thoroughly enjoyed their beginners kayaking session with Kendal mountaineering Services here in the Ullswater valley of the Lake District - bravo!

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Mountaincraft courses in the Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services. July 31st/August 1st 2010

Jacqueline Wallace and Joanne Overy contacted Kendal Mountaineering Services looking for a bespoke navigation skills training course in the Lake District but they also wanted the addition of night navigation, an overnight wild camp and some ropework tuition in preparation for a mountaineering trip abroad.

As they were travelling from London by train they also asked if they could be collected from and returned to Oxenholme Railway Station at Kendal.

Non of this sounded unreasonable to Iain who said yes - it was all possible and after some consideration, Jacqueline came back to us to book the weekend.

As can be seen from the first shot, the weather forecast was somewhat mixed with showers the order of the weekend. We had barely pulled up at our departure point when it began to rain heavily.

Fortunately, the heavy rain was only momentary although it was to remain showery all day. The pair were new to map reading and Iain decided to gradually build up their skills by first using linear features such as tracks & footpaths to follow a route looking, along the way at "tick off" features, "grid references"
and "orientating the map" at regular intervals.

The plan was to head up the Kentmere valley from Green Quarter and untimately head for Hall Cove as our site for an overnight wild camp.

In the second shot Jacqueline & Joanne are heading north along the Kentmere valley floor. In the distance, from left to right are the hills of Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick and the ridge leading up to Thornthwaite Beacon & High Street.

In the third shot, we had reached the lower part of Hall Cove and Kentmere Reservoir is visible in the distance. By now, seeing as we had reached the open fell and the path had disappeared, both Jacqueline & Joanne were using their compasses and "pacing" to locate the grid references Iain was asking them to find.

We reached the upper part of Hall Cove at 5pm and set up camp. The weather had deteriorated and the cloud had lowered making Iain think that night navigation would indeed be a challenge for the pair.

At 8pm in the gathering gloom we set off for the plateau exiting Hall Cove via a deep gully leading to the col between High Street & Thornthwaite Beacon and en route up this we found a sleeping bag, a bivvi tent and two thermarests - all unfortunately ruined! As to what had happened here, we could only guess; although Hall Cove has a reputation for catching lost & inexperienced walkers unaware - Iain knows this from his days in Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team!

As we reached the plateau, the cloud began to clear and at one point we could see as far as the scottish border & Carlisle and over the next few hours as it got darker, the cloud cover disappeared. Walking on a bearing & pacing at night is no easy feat, but Jacqueline & Joanne did very well. On reaching High Street Summit both were tired after their long day (4am start in London) and so Iain took over and led the pair back to the tents in Hall Cove.

Taken from the site of our wild camp at Hall cove on the Sunday morning , the fourth shot shows Froswick (right) and Ill Bell (left) in the distance. After our late finish at midnight, the weather had remained calm and dry - until about 09:30 when the clouds drifted over the tops from the west and we had to get our waterproofs out again!

Our day was to begin with a stiff climb out of Hall Cove on to the shoulder between Mardale Ill Bell and Lingmell - continuing to walk on a bearing and pacing; and at this point Iain chose to introduce the concept of working out timings and Naismiths Rule.

Sunday turned into a glorious day. We had one heavy shower and then it all cleared up. In shot five, Joanne & Jacqueline can be seen on the ridge approaching the summit of Harter Fell from Nan Bield Pass. In the far distance the flat top of Racecourse Hill (High Street) can be seen - the scene of our night nav practice.

After some lunch on Harter Fell we turned south to head towards Kentmere Pike on our way back towards the car.

In this final shot, Joanne uses her compass to try and identify a feature on the ground she could see below us in the Kentmere Valley.

We knew were were on top of Kentmere Pike and by pointing the compass direction of travel arrow at the feature we wanted to identify and setting the bezel to grid and then magnetic north, we were then able to lie the compass on the map and work out where our feature was.

Being able to use a compass for this purpose indicates the advanced navigation skill set that Joanne & Jacqueline were able to achieve with Iain over the course of their two day mountain navigation skills training course - a hugely significant improvement - considering that Joanne at least, had only picked up a compass for the first time on the previous friday night in London when a friend had shown her how to take a bearing!

Arriving back at the car, we spent half an hour looking at basic ropework for the pairs intended mountaineering trip to Europe before Iain returned them both to Oxenholme for the long journey south. Both were back at work in the morning. Iain, however, enjoyed a lie in!

For information about our Navigation Skills Training Courses see here
and for details about our Mountaincraft Courses see here. We look forward to working with you!