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!

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