Monday 29 November 2010

Navigation Skills training courses in the Lake District. November 27th & 28th 2010

During the weekend of November 27th & 28th, Kendal Mountaineering services ran a Navigation Skills training course here in the Lake District.

The weather for the weekend was as forecast - although someone, somewhere had omitted to tell us about the two inches of snow that were due to fall in the small hours of Saturday and this caused one participant to withdraw from the course. However, the other two had managed to travel to the Lake District and so the course ran.

Day one of the course was to be based on Green Quater Fell area near Staveley and in the shot above, Gary (left) and Kelvin can be seen checking the map and their location on the bridleway that we had used to walk in from the Kentmere road to the area we were intending to work in for the day. It was truly a stunning day cold and crisp but absolutely beautiful and this is the first time that winter has returned to the Lake District so early for many years.

In shot two, Gary & Kelvin are walking on a bearing - having set off from our previous grid reference and en route for the next - a ring contour located on the map but difficult to find! On leaving the road we had initially looked at pacing in order that the pair could measure distance and orientating the map so, once aligned with the surrounding area, the pair could identify features from map to ground. We then used a linear feature (in this case, a bridleway) to navigate on to Green Quarter Fell to progress to more testing techniques.

Walking on a bearing whilst pacing is a more advanced technique and one that novices often struggle with at the outset, but Gary & Kelvin were already experienced hillgoers who really just wanted to brush up on their mountain navigation skills so, in many respects, this turned out to be a navigation refresher course with some additional techniques thrown in.

After progressing from following linear features to travelling on bearings, the trio spent the afternoon developing their expertise in this skill. Iain also talked about the benefits of using attack points (something obvious near to your intended location) and aiming off as well as using back bearings (to check you've actually walked on your bearing). Before we knew it, it was mid afternoon, the sun was dropping low in the sky and it was decided to leave the fell and head back to Wilfs Cafe in Staveley to discuss Naismiths Rule - with a brew in the relative comfort of the cafe and thus ended, day one.

The third shot is one of the sunset looking out west with the Coniston Fells on the right in the distance. By now it was extremely cold!

Unfortunately Gary was unable to attend day two of our Lake District based Navigation Skills Training Course and so Iain was now down to one client from three! Kelvin, pictured right with Kentmere Pike and the High Street summits beyond, has been a client of Kendal mountaineering Services on a number of occasions now - starting last year in North Wales on a Scrambling Skills Training Course as part of an Outdoors Magic supermeet organised by Dave Mycroft of Myoutdoors.

Kelvin has also attended one of our Scottish Winter Skills Courses based in the Cairngorms National Park in February and he joined us on Skye last May for one of our Cuillin Ridge Traverses

Anyway, Iain & Kelvin headed again into the Kentmere area with the intention of consolidating the skills learnt during the previous day. On day two we aim to traverse at least part of the Kentmere Horseshoe and started along the eastern side taking in Shipman Knotts and Kentmere Pike before heading on to Harter Fell.

The weather was perfect and the views stunning. Yesterday's fresh and cold north easterly wind had been replaced by a light, almost imperceptable breeze which meant that rather than being wrapped up to the eyeballs - we could enjoy the day in baselayers and down jackets. Shot five is taken from Harter Fell looking down on Low Water with the east face of High Street beyond and already there were fair accumulations of ice to be seen - so no doubt Blea Water Icefalls will be seeing ascents again soon.

From Harter Fell, we descended the ridge to Nan Bield Pass and in shot six Kentmere Reservoir peeps out from behind Kelvin with Ill Bell and Froswick in shadow to the right.

Having descended to Nan Bield Pass it was elected to follow the bridleway back to Brockstones and our vehicle and day two of our Lake District Navigation Skills training course finished at around 4pm. Kelvin then had to make the long drive back to Northhampton!

Both Kelvin and Gary thoroughly enjoyed their course with Kendal Mountaineering Services and felt that they had gained much from it. We will now not be running any further Navigation Skills training courses in the Lake District until the end of next March but in the meantime why not join us in Scotland for a Winter Skills course, winter climbing courses or a guided day on a classic winter route of your choice!

Contact us for details.

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