Wednesday 30 March 2011

Lake District Weekend Activity Break. March 26th & 27th 2011

Less than a week after returning to the Lake District, Iain was back at work in the outdoors running and activity weekend for a bunch of year ten pupils from Wellington High School in West Manchester. The School comes to The Lake District annually and sometimes more than once each year. This time, the aim of the weekend was to develop leadership skills and improve motivation and self esteem for these pupils - all keen sports people in the first year of their GSCE's. A plan for the weekend had been mapped out for the group - ghyll scrambling in Church Beck at Coniston on the Saturday morning and a paddle around Coniston Water in Canadian Canoes in the afternoon followed by more activities on Sunday. In this first photo the group takes the plunge one by one under the log in Church Beck - enough to waken up anyone as young Harry's face testifies! It was a nice morning to be in Church Beck. The weather over the weekend was cooler than the warm conditions we had had during the previous week, but it wasn't too cold for a Lake District Ghyll scrambling session! Church Beck was unbelievably low for the time though and very quiet too. Apart from the groups from our centre, we only saw one other party in the ghyll on this morning. By the time we got back to our base, it was early afternoon and most of the group had chilled down after the ghyll scrambling session. The planned afternoon activity was a canadian canoeing journey on Coniston water with the intention of heading to Peel Island to do "the jump" if anyone was up for it! The jump is off the rock in the distance beyond the group in this third shot which shows us all beached up at Peel. Understandably - no-one was keen to get another soaking (who say's teenagers are daft!) So the whole group were kitted out in dry clothes and wateroroofs for what was a cool, but largely calm journey down the lake and back. Paddling a Canadian Canoe is very much about teamwork as you have to paddle them in pairs (or like Iain - go solo!) and some of the group did have trouble mastering the basics - like getting the canoes to go in a straight line!. Everyone enjoyed the Canadian canoeing session though!
On the Sunday morning, we were supposed to be having another watersports session on Coniston Water - which basically meant kayaking or - Kayaking! The centre we were based at also does sailing but there was no wind. Iain felt it appropriate to offer something else instead and the group were very happy to accept the offer of some rock climbing instead at Tilberthwaite Quarry as an alternative.

In photo four the group can be seen having what we would describe as an intro to rock climbing session. In an introductory rock climbing session, people will generally learn how to correctly fasten a helmet & harness, tie in to a climbing rope, belay another team member who is climbing; and take their first moves on to real rock themselves.

There has to be good teamwork here. Communication, support and trust is essential if a party of novices is to work together to encourage and safely look after members who are trying to climb for the first time.

What's really unverving is when having climbed to the top of the pitch - someone who you don't really know lowers you back to the ground and your life is literally in their hands! Fortunately, this group were responsible young people and worked well together. Good news - because if people can't work sensibly on such a session, it can become unsafe to the point where the instructor has to stop it, but not on this occasion!

Iain has spent the last five days doing what he can to promote Kendal Mountaineering Services for the coming months. We are clearly moving into difficult times ahead with people having less money to spend on outdoor activities and outdoor skills training courses here in The Lake District. Iain is currently working on a strategy which he hopes will encourage people to book with us for the best value outdoor activity packages here in The Lakes. Time will tell if it works.

Anyway, there is plenty going on so follow our blog - Iain will shortly be working with a group from Harrow School helping them on their practise Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award Expedition here in the Lakes starting in a couple of days. We have a learning to lead multi-pitch climbing course on the go in a couple of weekends after a day of guided scrambling in Langdale and we are definitely off to Skye in May to run one of our famous Cuillin Ridge Traverses once again. So - keep following and if you are intersted in booking your own outdoor activity session or skills training course, we are ready & waiting to hear from you - contact us here.

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