Tuesday 8 November 2011

Mountain Navigation Skills Training courses in The Lake District. November 5th & 6th 2011.

During the weekend of November 5th
& 6th 2011, four people came together to join Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services on one of our renowned Mountain Navigation Skills training courses in The Lake District.

From left to right in photo on we have John, Sarah & Alan and Skip who had come along for the weekend hoping to improve their map reading &
navigation skills.

These four people had come to us via a number of sources. John - simply by Googling navigation skills training courses had found the KMS website, Sarah & Alan came to us via the online outdoor enthusiasts site MyOutdoors and Skip had come to us via Outdoorsmagic.

Our Mountain Navigation Skills Training courses are all about taking you from where you are and improving your skills to confidently go into the UK's mountains using a map & compass. Our courses will help you work out where you are, plan a route and know where you are going by being able to identify what is around you simply by using a map & compass.

In photo two, Alan takes a compass bearing for what was to be our first leg taking; and walking on a bearing
and using pacing to arrive at a predetermined grid reference on the map.

We had started the session on the first day by firstly orientating the map and discussing the significance of grid references. We then had walked from our vehicles to the point in this photo "handrailing" a linear feature - in this case a bridleway - moving between grid references and using a combination of pacing and tick off features to help us identify exactly where we were along our route in relation to where we wanted to get to.

From the place where photo two was taken, we then switched to more advanced map reading techniques for the remainder of the day in so much that rather than following linear features such as a path/track, wall or stream, we located specific (although not necessarily obvious) features on the
map such as re-entrants or ring
contours and made our way to them using a combination of bearings and pacing the measured distance.

Saturday was a lovely sunny day - visibility was great, too good really for a Mountain Navigation Skills Training course but when you consider the cold & wet conditions we could have had at this time of year - we weren't complaining!

Photo three shows our team at Skeggles Water on Green Quarter Fell towards the end of the afternoon. The sun was starting to set and a cold north easterly breeze had set in, but it had been a great and worthwhile day for everyone with everyone learning a lot of new navigational skills from Iain.

Unfortunately, Sarah & Alan were unable to join us on the Sunday, so Iain set off with Skip and John to carry on with day two of our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District.

This time we drove further up the Kentmere Valley and set off up Shipman Knotts with the intention of consolidation the navigation skills learned the previous day, putting them into use today and having a mountain journey on a well known ridge as well.

In photo four, taken from Shipman Knotts, we have a great view across to the hills on the western side of the Kentmere Horseshoe - Yoke, Ill Bell & Froswick. Today we had no breeze, wall to wall blue sky and stunning views in all directions.

We continued on our way looking at more advanced navigational
techniques such as using the compass the identify a ground feature on the map. We also discussed timings and Naithsmiths Rule.

We eventually reached Harter Fell before heading back to the parked car picking up the head of Drygrove Gill and the Ull Stone en route.

As these are both on a slope and had to be located using pacing and bearings Skip & John did week to find them, but both had come along well on our weekend Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District.

Iain wishes all four attendees the best of luck with their forays into the mountains with their new & improved map reading skills.

Other photographs from this Mountain Navigation Skills Training course in The Lake District can be viewed here.

Our next Mountain Navigation Skills Training course in The Lake District will be running during the weekend of March 31st & April 1st 2012. If you would like to attend then contact us via the Kendal Mountaineering Services Website here. The cost is £80 per person for the two day course and maps are provided by us.

We look forward to working with you.

Thursday 3 November 2011

An all day caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services. October 28th, 2011.

Andrea Ubhi booked a half day introductory caving session and a half day rock climbing session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park for herself and her three children with Kendal Mountaineering services - to take place during the Autumn half term holiday.

Iain met the family at the Inglesport Cafe & Shop in Ingleton - gateway to The Yorkshire Dales National Park, before we all headed to Ribblehead to go underground.

In the first photo - left to right are Matt, Ellie, Andrea & Nick, dressed up ready to go caving. Some people may recognise the view in the background (Alum Pot), the venue was Long Churns near to Ribblehead - one of the areas best places for introductory caving sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

In photo two, we had already been underground to do some pretty meaty caving. None of the family had caved before so Iain felt it only appropriate to take them into the easy Middle Entrance at Long Churns and we then headed downstream into Lower Long Churns.

Nick & Matt proved themselves to be very keen & capable by getting through The Cheese Press whilst Iain lowered Andrea & Ellie down the pitch into Cathedral Cavern. They had been told to wait until Iain got to the other side of the Cheese Press to see them through - boys will be boys!

After that, we had a quick visit to the Dolly Tubs so the family could see the light streaming in from Alum pot before exiting via Diccan Entrance which is where photo two was taken.

We went back into Middle Entrance on our introductory caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park and Iain let the family lead on upstream in the roomy & safe passage of Upper Long Churns having told them to stop when they got to a large pool and waterfall (Dr Bannisters Washbasin).

Photo three shows Andrea climbing up this waterfall by way of an assisted handline. Ellie had come up first and Andrea took her out to daylight where she could warm up. The plan had been that Ellie would leave us at lunchtime, she had done very well for a first time underground and had thoroughly enjoyed her introduction to caving with Iain. The two boys followed after this photo was taken - both on assisted handlines of course

Iain changed the afternoon plan for a number of reasons. We had initially intended to do an introductory rock climbing session at Twistleton Scars but whilst the day was fine & dry, there was a cold wind that would have made a rock climbing session untenable in the conditions; and apart from that everyone had enjoyed the morning caving session so much that they wanted to do more in the afternoon.

Iain had come prepared for this eventuality and so offered the trio a slightly harder trip - that being a level two caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. In photo four Matt, Andrea & Nick are coached in the use of cows tails on traverse lines in preparation for the next caving trip .

A level two caving session with Kendal Mountaineering Services differs from a level one trip in so much as it is a more technical type of caving trip. A level one caving trip is essentially a walk in & out trip which may contain vertical drops and climbs of up to six feet - Long Churns is a fine example of such a caving trip.

Photo five shows Matt being lowered down a pitch which is considerably more than six feet - more like forty five! Level two cave leaders can take novice cavers on trips with vertical drops of up to 18m or 60 feet. These trips involve more rope, more technical equipment for lowering and belaying climbers using ladders to climb pitches and the skills to use cowstails on traverse lines such as had been set up to get Matt to the pitch head from where this photograph is taken.

The cave Iain chose to take the party to was the Calf Holes/Browgill system near Birkwith in The Yorkshire Dales National Park - pretty much directly opposite Long Churns in the Ribblehead area.

To get to this point, Matt had traversed 30 feet on his own using cowstails and a traverse line above the 45 foot drop where Browgill Beck plunges down the Calf Holes shaft. Well done Matt!

Having lowered Matt, Andrea & Nick in to Calf Holes, we all set off downstream in the active streamway passage. After about 500m the stream sinks in to the floor on the left and the way on gets lower & lower until one has to crawl through a small hole in the left of the passage - Hainsworths Passage. This is a quite challenging crawl through a small, tight passageway.

Hainsworths Passage is the connection with the lower part of Browgill cave and the way on past the waterfall and rift passage that leads out to daylight. In photo six Andrea emerges in the lower part of the cave having just crawled through The Slot in Hainsworths Passage with the two boys having followed Iain through first.

We followed the stream on to the head of the waterfall and a had a look down that before taking the descent route down to the foot of the fall and the rift passage.

Eventually, we arrived at daylight, but the plan Iain had offered the trio was to turn around and return underground to Calf Holes so they could experience climbing out by caving ladder.

Back at Hainsworths Passage, Iain took the family through via a different route - The Letterbox; and in photo seven Matt has just followed Iain through the tightest bit - smiling as he did throughout the day.

The final photograph from this day sees Andrea reaching the pitch head at Calf Holes after a strenuous climb up a caving ladder. Matt had climbed out first and made his way along the traverse line to safe ground and Nick was the last to climb out of Calf Holes into the sunlight.

Calf Holes is a great introduction to level two caving sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park and bearing in mind how readily the family had taken to caving in the morning session Iain had felt confident about their ability to succeed in Calf Holes in the afternoon.

The family had a fantastic experience caving with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services and they did extremely well.

We base all of our caving sessions around your ability and aspirations and know many appropriate venues where we can go and have a great exprience in this exciting & challenging environment. All of the pictures from Andrea, Nick, Matt & Ellis caving day can be viewed here.

To book your half or full day caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here, Prices start from £45 per person for a half day caving session. All of the equipment worn in these photos by Andrea & her family are provided as part of your fee.

Iain's next post will be about the upcoming Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District National Park this coming weekend. Lots of fun in the mountains learning how to use a map & compass. Read about it all on the Kendal Mountaineering Services Blog!

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Introductory Moving water Kayak Skills Training courses in The Lake District. Middle Derwent. October 15th 2011.

Teresa Middleton booked a introductory moving water kayak skills training course with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services for herself and her partner Gareth.

Both are keen outdoor enthusiasts and had previously been rafting at Canolfan Tryweryn in North Wales. Having seen many kayakers there enjoying running the Afon Tryweryn, both Teresa & Gareth decided that it was something they would like to try out for themselves.

Teresa had googled "kayaking courses Lake District" and had found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website. On contacting Iain, Teresa liked what we had to offer (basically one of our bespoke packages built around Teresas needs & concerns) and subsequently booked a single day course with him. Photo one shows Teresa & Gareth on Derwentwater - lovely weather and a great day for doing a river trip for the first time.

Before we ventured on to the River Derwent, Iain spent some time coaching the pair in the basics of Kayak handling including reverse paddling before we headed to the outflow of Derwentwater and the start of the Middle Derwent - flowing between Derwentwater & Bassenthwaite Lake.

Once on the River Derwent, the pair were able to use the skills Iain had already provided them with to good effect - particularly the reverse paddling.

The Derwent leaves the lake as a narrow and deep channel overhung by trees growing just above or indeed in the river. These are known as strainers and are very dangerous indeed to kayakers or open canoeists who can be tipped out of their craft by these or pinned against them by flowing water.

Reverse paddling on a river allows you to slow down your forward momentum and "set" your position on moving water to avoid such hazards. We had to start doing this pretty much immediately upon leaving Derwentwater.

A little further on we arrived at the confluence of the River Greta which flows in to the Derwent from Keswick - it is virtually stationary as it joins the larger Derwent. Here, we could start to look at the concept of eddies (areas of stationary or relatively stationary water) that we could use as stepping stones or gathering points for our little party as we made our way down river. Iain taught Teresa & Gareth how to break into and out of eddies using the flow of water to help them make turns in to and out of the current. Probably one of the most important things they heard Iain say all day was "lean downstream!"

Eddy hopping and reading the river took up most of the next few hours as we made our way from the Greta Confluence down under Portinscale footbridge (photo two) and onwards under the A66 road bridge.

We encountered only one fisherman on our kayak descent of the Middle Derwent and he politly let us through without comment.

For most of our introductory moving water Kayak skills training course our views were dominated by the massive bulk of Skiddaw rising to our north and looking great in the afternoon sunshine.

The latter part of our introductory moving water kayak skills training course in The Lake District involved going with the flow, practising a bit of forward & reverse ferry gliding and staying out of the way of strainers whilst enjoying the view of Skiddaw and Dodd Wood near to our getout, rising to the north.

We had to exit the river at Low Stock Bridge only a matter of a few hundred metres from the Middle Derwents confuence with the National Park reserve at the southern end of Bassenthwaite Lake. In the final photo Teresa & Gareth empty out their kayaks at Low Stock Bridge before beginning the 500m portage to the road and Iains car.

The pair enjoyed their introductory moving water kayak skills training course with Iain. It had been a challenging day for them and the Middle Derwent had been an appropriate trip although both agreed that it was just enough. The Middle derwent is great for introductory open canoeing sessions too! Iain hopes that they enjoyed the rest of their weekend break here in The Lake District and make the move to do further kayaking trips themselves. Best of luck!

If you would like to book an introductory Kayaking or open canoeing session in The Lake District on either flat or moving water, contact Iain at Kendal Mountaineering services here.

Further photos from Teresa & Gareths day out with Iain can be viewed here

Monday 10 October 2011

Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District. Stickle Ghyll, Langdale Saturday 8th October 2011.

On October 8th, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services was out ghyll scrambling again for another business - back once again in Stickle Gill in Langdale here in The Lake District.

It was another fine day and there was less water in Stickle Gill this time than when Iain was last here with groups of undergraduates from Cambridge University.

This time Ian was here again with undergarduates and international students too, but this time from Grantham in Lincolnshire.

There was only one group of five in the morning but we had 24 students to deal with in the afternoon, so Iain was joined by two other instructors then. Photo one shows Iains team at the first climb in Stickle Ghyll.

With such a small team, Iain was able to crack on up the ghyll and reach his usual high point in photo two in a relatively short space of time.

Here, the instructor generally climbs the rock rib behind the group between the two waterfalls and rigs up a belay at the top before bringing the group up one by one.

Occasionally we manage to do the next roped climb above here, but the party had got well & truly stuck in to the experience of ghyll scrambling (otherwise known as gorge walking) and were wet through. They were happy to call time on the session once atop the waterfall.

Photo three shows Iain's much larger afternoon ghyll scrambling group about half way up Stickle Gill. Stickle ghyll along with Church Beck is one of the most regularly used venues for ghyll scrambling & gorge walking sessions in The Lake District although unlike Church Beck, Stickle Gill is not suitable as a canyoning venue.

Stickle gill has a smaller catchment area than Church Beck and so is generally a smaller stream making it suitable for use with groups of children and so it gets a lot of traffic from outdoor centres - there were five other groups in the ghyll with us in the afternoon.

Our fouth & final photo from this ghyll scrambling post. Eight happy clients at the top of the large upper waterfall climb in Stickle Gill and the end of another moist day for Iain.

It is getting rather late in the year now for ghyll scrambling, gorge walking or Canyoning half day sessions here in the Lake District, but if you want - we can still do it!

Everyone on our sessions gets provided with a full wetsuit, a cagoule, a bouyancy aid, helmets, harnesses and walking boots as part of your fee making us one of the best Lake District based outdoor pursuits companies to try this sport with.

If you would like to try Ghyll Scrambling or canyoning just as a fun thing to do or as part of a corporate event or Stag or Hen Event then contact us at Kendal Mountaineering Services and we'll be happy to arrange it for you. More photos from this ghyll scrambling day can be viewed here.

Corporate Team Building events in the Lake District. Tuesday October 4th 2011.

On Tuesday October 4th, Kendal Mountaineering Services ran a corporate team building event for clients from GEN II Training Ltd.

GEN II work in partnership with a number of UK industries to recruit and train apprentices for those industries. Kendal Mountaineering Services has already been involved with the induction programmes for the Nucleargraduates Scheme run by GEN II and pretty much everyone in photo one has attended one of our ghyll scrambling & canyoning session as part of their induction.

We were asked by GEN II to put together a one day corporate event to focus on teamwork, leadership and communication skills where there would be three separate teams with an element of competition between those teams. Iain put together a proposal which involved a lake cluefind session on Derwentwater (the client had specified a water activity as part of the proposal), standalones, rock climbing and the building of a Tyrolean traverse. Each team would be required to complete all four tasks during the course of the day starting with the lake canoe cluefind.

So, starting at 10am, the teams headed out on to Derwentwater to commence the first task - basically a water based orienteering event. Each team consisted of a pair of rafted canadian canoes carrying 12 people. Each group had a map showing locations of clues which they then had to find and bring back a pair of letters located at each point to gain points. Penalties were incurred for clues not found and for being late back - we were on a tight schedule!

After lunch at 12 each team set off on the afternoon "round robin" of team tasks that had been set out for them on the area. Photo two shows one team engaged with problem solving at the standalones. There were five tasks set up here for each team to choose three from these. Each task involved a brief outlining what was to be achieved and what equipment was available. There were constraints and penalties for failure to comply with the brief and failure to keep to time.

These tasks were designed to get people working together as part of a team, to actively partake in discussions intended to arrive at a shared understanding of what was to be achieved at each task with individuals understanding their part in achieving success. At the end of each task there was a short review from which indiviuals were intended to "take way" learning points from that task in order that they could be applied to the next task and within their workplace. Each task was expected to take no more than 20 minutes (an hour for three) and points gained from here were added towards each groups final total.

Photo three shows one of the teams at the site of the Tyrolean Traverse over Watendlath Beck. The Tyrolean had been part rigged by the attendant technician who was in charge of safety during this task. With the aid of a diagram, each team was expected to tension the tyrolean ropes to a stage where all team members could be successfully transported across the gorge which the Tyrolean spanned.

In this photo, a team member crosses the gorge suspended from the Tyrolean whilst the rest of the team look on. Points were gained for each team member successfully completing a crossing. As well as having to work together to rig the Tyrolean there was certainly an element of reacting to challenge here as the ropeway spanned a precipitous secion of the gorge with a large waterfall crashing down a drop directly below.

Photo four shows one delegate attached to the Tyrolean rig prior to crossing the gorge and the photo was taken to show the complexity of the rigging and equipment required to make it all work.

The chap in the picture has joined the GEN II Nucleargraduate programme and so has already reached a high standard in their education. At the end of the two year apprenticeship with GEN II all apprentices will be taking up posts within the UK nuclear industry and may well find themselves in situations where they are presented with instructions and a range of unfamiliar equipment - and then be expected to build something or make something work.

This task involved the use of pulleys, Jumars and various other bits of equipment and systems that would be unfamilair to most of these graduate apprentices. However, with minimal assistance from the technician, each team managed to rig and run a successful Tyrolean session. Well done!

The fourth photograph from the GEN II Corporate teambuilding event shows a team at Upper Shepherds crag not far from the location of the Tyrolean venue.

Here, each team member was required to attempt rock climbing in order to gain further points for their team and the higher they climbed, the more points they earned. Other team members were expected to support, encourage and maintain the safety of those climbing whilst learning the new ropework skill of belaying.

For the rock climbing, each team of twelve was subdivided into teams of four - one person climbing, one person belaying and two people tailing ie holding on to the dead rope whilst the climber climbed.

Climbing was very challenging for some members of each team and being lowered back down in the abseiling position by their colleagues more challenging still!

At the end of the afternoon all teams reconvened at our venue - the Lodore Falls Hotel where they were expected to give a five minute presentation with regards to what they had learned during the day with respect to teamwork, leadership, communication, trust and support.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their teambuilding event with us. It had been a physically demanding day and undoubtedly challenging for every team member at some point throughout the day, However, everyone will go away with a better understanding of the value of efficient team work and how communication and good planning can go together to make for the successful completion of a task within or outwith the workplace.

We would like to thank GEN II for the opportunity to organise and run this corporate event for them. Also worthy of a mention are John & Sarah of Platty+ who provided the canoes & safety cover for the lake cluefind and the Lodore Falls Hotel for providing an excellent venue on Borrowdale in The Lake District from where we were able to run this event.

If you are looking for a teambuilding event or an event with a difference then we at Kendal Mountaineering services can organise this for you. As well as the many outdoor activities and skills training courses we offer we are more than happy to put together a corporate package if you would like a well organised and challenging day out for your clients or staff that will be fun but may have an educational or teambuilding theme. Contact us to arrange your bespoke event.

Other photographs from the GEN II Teambuilding Event can be viewed here.

Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering services. Monday 26th September 2011.

As well as running our own outdoor activity sessions & skills training courses here at Kendal Mountaineering services, sometimes we also assist others with the delivery of their outdoor programmes and in turn they assist us with the delivery of ours. It is all part of a very healthy system of teamwork between individual outdoor activity providers here in The Lake District.

On this occasion, Iain was contracted in to provide ghyll scrambling sessions for another provider and spent the day in Stickle ghyll at Langdale in The Lake District National Park with some very pleasant international undergraduates from Cambridge University.

These young people were on a week long visit to the Lake District and as well as ghyll scrambling, they were also rock climbing, hill walking and kayaking as part of their week away.

The first photo shows Iain's morning group at the foot of the first climb in Stickle Ghyll - they really were a a fab bunch!

Photo two shows the group making their way up the ghyll. There was a fair amount of water on this day and it was quite chilly - just prior to that warm spell that returned at the end of September. Anyway, the group made up for the lack of warmth and sheer volume of water with loads of enthusiasm right throughout the session as we made our way upstream on our ghyll scrambling adventure.

Just in front of the nearest person in photo two, Iain had the experience of seeing a trout jump as it tried to make it's way upstream - presumably to eventually spawn somewhere upstream. So, we weren't the only ones ghyll scrambling on this day - but did the fish realise just what a journey it had ahead of itself? Obviously not! However, at some time in the past fish have made it up Stickle Ghyll as the tarn feeding the stream is full of Brown Trout and Minnows - how they got there remains a mystery.

Photo three is a fine view up Stickle Ghyll to the distant buttress of Tarn Crag. Tarn Crag is a place where Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services frequently runs his popular scrambling skills training courses. Our last scrambling skills training course ran in August and you can read about it here.

So what is ghyll scrambling? Well - basically, the pastime of walking up a mountain stream - climbing up waterfalls, swimming through pools, getting thoroughly wet in the process, but having an exhilarating and refreshing experience. Ghyll scrambling is also known as gorge walking and there are a number of venues where we can provide this for you in the Lake District.

The sport of Canyoning is one where you actually descend a mountain stream - abseiling down waterfalls or jumping into pools from above and again, we have a number of places where we can do this for you - Church Beck being our most popular venue.

Ghyll scrambling is undoubtedly one of our best sellers here at Kendal Mountaineering Services as you'll see by reading our blog over the last few years. It may also be because of the kit we provide as part of your fee - wetsuits, walking boots, cagoules, bouyancy aids, helmets & harnesses are all included in our half day session fee of £45 per person. What this means for you is that you get the best possible equipment to protect you and keep you comfortable in this demanding environment - very much better than some of our competitors who are happy to let you undertake a ghyll scrambling session in shorts and training shoes!

Photo four shows Megan Sim, one of our group climbing the final waterfall on the Stickle Ghyll Ghyll Scrambling session - roped for safety. Her expression is typical of someone attending a ghyll scrambling session with us and as regular attendee on this week away from University, she frequently asks for; and recommends Iain to her colleagues attending these annual ghyll scrambling sessions for the first time.

If you would like to book your ghyll scrambling & canyoning session with us then contact us here. Further photos taken during this day can be viewed here.

Caving half day session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services. September 27th 2011.

September 2011 did not get off to a good start here in The Lake District. From the end of August until the last week of September it really felt like Autumn had set in with a vengance, it was cold and wet - until the last week, that is!

Ruth O'Brien booked a half day beginner's caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. The first photograph shows the pair on the limestone pavement at Long Churns with Penyghent in the background on what was a beautiful hot sunny day - hardly a day to be caving underground!

The pair had travelled up from the south coast for a week long holiday in The Lake District National Park,had done some hillwalking amongst other things but wanted to try something new & exciting and a beginners caving session can be just that!

Iain took the pair to the Long Churns cave system near Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and in photo two Steve pops out of the well known "Cheese Press" a bedding plane crawl through the tightest part of the Longs Churns beginners cave session.

As there were a number of large groups in Long Churns Lane when we arrived, Iain chose to take the pair in to the cave system via the Diccan entrance and quickly down to the Cheese Press and Cathedral Cavern. Here, at the pools known as the Dolly Tubs, Iain got the pair to switch out their lights and we could make out daylight entering from the massive Alum Pot.

Making our way upstream via middle Churns, Plank & Double Shuffle Pools we popped out at the Surface at Middle Entrance having climbed the entrance waterfall before heading up Baptistry Crawl with its fine formations & "Font" before reappearing in the main streamway upstream from Middle Entrance.

Photo Three shows Ruth and Steve in Diccan Entrance - having just undertaken the first crawl through from Alum Pot Beck to a point where they can once again stand up.

On arriving at the upper end of Babtistry Crawl, we quickly linked back to Middle Entrance before heading upstream on our beginners caving session towards Doctor Bannister's Washbasin and our final roped climb up the waterfall there and back out of the cave to daylight.

Long Churns is a fantastic Level One introductory caving trip and the venue sees lots of people going underground to be introduced to caving for the first time.

There are tight passages such as the Cheese Press, big ones such as the main streamway, wet passages, dry ones and climbs such as the one here (photo four) from Cathedral Chamber back into the Cheese Press Chamber. Caving is a great activity for people of all ages, a chance to have a real adventure and challenge yourself. Prices with Kendal Mountaineering Services for a beginners caving session start at £45 per person for a half day session and you get all of the equipment you see Ruth & Steve wearing as part of your fee.

Caving is a great activity to do during the autumn weekends where you can have fun underground sheltered from any inclement weather and no matter how wet it may have been Iain knows plenty of caving venues that are still suitable even when water levels are up.

The rest of the photographs from Ruth & Steves introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National park can be viewed here.

To arrange your Autumn caving session underground with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us. We look forward to working with you.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning courses in The Lake District, half day session. 17th September 2011.

Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services was at work yesterday with returning clients Chris Senior and Oliver Bush who had used us last year for a ghyll scrambling & canyoning half day session at Church Beck, near Coniston, in The Lake District.

The lads had enjoyed the session they had done with us during April 2010 so much that they booked another one and brought along four other mates. They had travelled over from Leeds for a weekend of fun but with low pressure swirling across the country bringing with it almost continuous rain, it wasn't great weather - unless of course you like getting wet!

Photo one shows the lads at the get in at the start of the Church Beck ghyll scramble (also known as gorge walking) trip and by this time (10:30am) it was massive! Overnight in the Lake District, we had a fair amount of rain, but on Iain's drive to the ghyll scrambling & canyoning venue, all indications were that whilst the beck would be "up", it would still be ok to use. Iain has arrived here in the past at this time of year and had to use an alternative venue because the ghyll has been too full to run a safe session.

Straightaway, we realised that it was going to be a full on session but it was still fun.

We had to skirt around certain sections of the ghyll such as the bit just upstream of photo two. It would have been impossible for anyone to keep their footing with the sheer volume of water now surging down Church Beck.

Many of the pools were so aerated that it was just like being in a giant jacuzzi!

The only problem with very aerated water is that is does not support much as weight as non aerated water - ie things will sink further into it.

This can pose a problem when ghyll scrambling in high water levels and because of this; and the volume of water now surging down the ghyll, Iain decided it would be totally unsafe to do the lower 3 jumps that generally make up a great finale to the canyoning descent of Church Beck as well as the upper section that we generally descend above Miner's Bridge.

Photo three shows the lads at the waterfall just below where we normally get out to commence the canyoning descent. They each had two jumps in to the pool from the ledge just above pool level at the lower l/h side of the fall and they loved it!

Doing the top lower was out of the question but we had fun heading upstream from Miner's Bridge until the falls ahead barred our way.

Back at the Miners Bridge Fall (normally the scene of our second lower on the canyoning descent) Iain rigged a lower down the r/h side of the fall and here, Oli gets lowered.

Despite the high water levels and the fact that there was much in Church Beck that we were unable to attempt safely on this occasion, the lads thoroughly enjoyed themselves and are, apparently, still talking about it! Other photos taken during this ghyll scrambling & canyoning session in The Lake District can be viewed here.

September, here in the region, has not got off to a good start weather-wise with it being more like the end of October and not the end of Summer.

However, there are still a lot of options for booking outdoor activity full & half day sessions in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services. What do we do? Just wrap up more warmly. The weather is still fine for wet stuff such as ghyll scrambling or canyoning sessions and don't forget canoeing & kayaking both of which can be a little more exciting if you fancy booking a river trip with us. Caving also deserves a mention as this is great fun and Iain can provide you with an appropriate or advanced level caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park - again, with all necessary personal protective equipment included in the price. All our half day sessions start at £45 per person and full outdoor activity days from £60 each. Contact us to book your session.

Also, check out our upcoming courses page to find details of our fantastic navigation skills training weekends based here in The Lake District. These start at £80 per person for a two day navigation skills training course and there are four separate weekend courses advertised for October and November 2011. We look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning courses in The Lake District. Church Beck, Coniston. September 5th 2011

Laura Fogarty booked a half day of ghyll scrambling & canyoning with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services for herself and her friend Isabelle whilst on a short break to The Lake District.

The pair had travelled some distance to visit the Lake District in what was unfortunately rather inclement weather conditions. Indeed the conditions here in the Lakes have been constantly wet for some weeks now!

Autumn is definitely well and truly upon us now or so it seems. There is still plenty of outdoor activity sessions that we can still do however. Rock Climbing & scrambling courses are out of the picture until things dry up a bit but ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions can still be done or howabout going underground for a caving trip with us?

Anyway, the first photo of this post shows Isabelle (front) and Laura as we entered Church beck last Monday afternoon. The building behind houses the hydro-electric turbine which was working and indeed - had the hydro plant not been drawing a third of the flow from the Church Beck gorge then things might have been borderline!

So, there was more than enough water for the pairs Ghyll Scrambling & canyoning session and in photo two the pair enjoyed a natural jacuzzi in the second deep pool to be encountered on our upward ghyll scrambling ascent of Church Beck.

The volume of water coming down the ghyll posed quite a challenge for the pair and progress up the stream was quite slow but what could one expect in anything up to 15 inches of fast flowing water!

Eventually, we reached the get out just below the bottom jump and made our way up to Miners Bridge. Iains decision was to avoid the upper section of the ghyll as the volume of water would have made the top waterfall a trickly proposition for a lower. So we got in below the bridge and did the lower down the right hand side of the big waterfall.

Wherever possible we use the left hand part of the fall which takes most of the flow but today there was too much water. The right hand side of the fall was just right for the pair and in photo three Laura is lowered whilst Isabelle looks on from below.

The final shot was taken by Iain looking down on Isabelle and Laura from the top of the final jump just before he slid down the rock in the foreground in to the pool below to join them.

As can be seen, there was a lot of water about and really, the ghyll was at the limit of what should be attempted with novice ghyll scramblers.

You will note the colour of the water - ie white! This is due to the air bubbles in the water and the more water going down an waterfall - the higher the air content of the water in the pool below. What this means for us non aquatic humans is that the water will support less wieght ie you will sink further in to it and take longer to come up! Challenging stuff indeed!

However, we all survived the final drop unscathed and Iain had to admit that both Laura and Isabelle did extremely well today. As they are both nurses - had Iain injured himself, he would have been in good hands. Well done both!

To see further photos from this session click here. To book your autumn outdoor activity session with kendal Mountaineering services contact us here. We'll make sure you are wrapped up warmly so you can still enjoy yourselves. Check out our up and coming Autumn outdoor activity and skills training courses courses here. We look forward to working with you.

Friday 26 August 2011

Caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services. August 23rd & 24th 2011.

After a weekend with http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/ members at the North York Moors Meet, Iain found himself underground in Yorkshire with Andy Bushell, Bob & Richard Wilden.

Andy stays regularly in Ingleton and had been caving a number of times before. He had decided to introduce Bob and Richard to the sport, but had been unable to find an available cave leader or Instructor.

However, the guys at Inglesport had recommended Kendal Mountaineering Services to them as a business who regularly organises caving courses in The Yorkshire Dales National Park for members of the general Public.

At Kendal Mountaineering Services we are well placed to provide underground caving sessions for anyone interested - whether you be novice or experienced. Iain is a qualified BCA Level 2 Cave Leader with a wealth of experience working in the caves of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and we are happy to organise caving trips at any time - regardless of the weather or your ability - there will be somewhere we can take you for a great caving experience.

Photo one shows left to right, Andy, Richard & Bob kitted up ready to go underground with Iain. The caving suits, wellingtons, belts and helmets/lights are all always provided by Kendal Mountaineering Services as part of the fee per person - currently £45 per person for a half day or £70 for a full eight hour caving experience. Contact us to book your caving trip!

As this was a first trip for Bob & Richard, Iain chose to take the trio to Long Churns near Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

There are roughly four kilometres of underground passageway that can be explored here with large, small, wet and dry passageways to be experienced. There are some fantastic speleothems (limestone formations) to be seen and an active streamway to splash about in where you may even see the occasional trout - washed in from upstream in Alum Pot Beck.

Photo two shows Richard, Bob & Andy in the active streamway as we made our way deep underground in the direction of Lower Long Churns and the famous "Cheese Press".

And photo three shows Bob emerging from the Cheese Press after a slow & rather tight crawl.

The Cheese Press is a ten inch high crawl through a widened bedding plane (a horizontal layer of softer material between two layers of limestone rock) over a distance of about 12 feet.

The cheese press crawl is a real challenge for many people who may be slightly claustrophobic (a fear of small spaces or being enclosed). Of course, as with all other activities offered by Kendal Mountaineering Services, it is a case of challenge by choice and there is an easier way around this part of the system. However, all three were happy to give it a go
- good effort!

After everyone had tackled the Cheese Press Iain took them all to the head of the Dolly Tubs Pitch - a 15m drop in to the Alum Pot chamber. Here, we all switched off our caving lamps to that we could see daylight entering from the surface above.

However, as this was a level one caving trip we did not do the descent in to Alum Pot as this is classed as a level two caving trip. However, this level two trip in to Alum Pot is something that can be organised by Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. If you fancy a level two caving trip in the Yorkshire Dales to get you deeper & further underground again, get in touch with us.

Photo three shows Richard climbing a typical pitch to be found in a level one caving trip. Pitches/climbs should not exceed 2m in height whereas on a level two trip - you may be lowered or have to ascend pitches up to 18m/60 feet in height on a ladder. Our instructors will, at all times, have a safety rope on you to protect you against a slip; and on this pitch, Iain employed an assisted hoist on Richard and hauled him up with ease.

Having entered Long Churns via Middle Entrance, Iain took the party to the Cheese Press and Dolly Tubs and then back out to Daylight at Diccan Entrance.

To get here, you leave the main Lower Long Churns passageway and, by way of a link passage, crawl through another bedding plane crawl (photo four) to emerge in the active streamway just downstream of Diccan Entrance.

Once at Diccan entrance, we followed the streamway upstream back in to Middle Long Churns and then took the fossil passageway of Babtistry Crawl to emerge once again in the active streamway upstream of Middle Entrance.

After a quick trip down to Middle Entrance, we retraced our steps, collected the caving bag and headed up to Doctor Bannister's Washbasin (photo five).

Here, Alum Pot Beck enters the long Churns system by plunging 2m down a waterslide in to a 10m diameter pool (the washbasin) and in this photo Andy is the last to climb the waterslide before we all exited the cave system.

Finally, we all emerged in to bright Sunshine and a fab view across to Penyghent - one of the Yorkshire Dales 3 peaks (photo six).

All three had thoroughly enjoyed their caving trip in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain and have said they will be back again!

The rest of the photos taken during Andy, Bob & Richards underground session with Iain can be viewed here.

Iain was back again at Long Churns the following morning with a family of three who moved so fast that in the half day caving session, we not only covered all of Long Churns but most of the Borrin's Moor Cave System too and again, they loved it!

Caving has gained something of an unsavoury reputation in recent years as being dangerous. Indeed, only two weeks beforehand, the local Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) had to extract a party of cavers from Long Churns who had been trapped by floodwater. Long Churns can, after a period of wet weather, followed by torrential rain, fill to within a few feet of the roof in places.

However, it is not that the cave is dangerous, it is due to inexperienced cavers going underground when qualified cave leaders with extensive local knowledge
would be saying "stay out of that cave system in these conditions!" The best advice Iain can give is that if you want to have a good, safe and positive experience underground - then go with a local cave leader with good local knowledge and an understanding of the hydrology of the cave system you are contemplating entering.

Even in wet conditions, we at Kendal Mountaineering Services can still find appropriate caves down which to take you.

For most of our caving trips, we will meet you in the village of Ingleton at the Inglesport Outdoor Shop & cafe - undoubtedly the best place to start and end your underground caving experience with us.

A half day caving trip in the Yorkshire Dales National Park can also be combined with an introductory half day rock climbing course if you want to combine two activities into a full day out. We ran such a day for two people recently - read about it here.