Tuesday 28 June 2011

Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District. Church Beck, Coniston. Monday June 27th 2011

After working with Richard Taylor's stag party on Sunday running a rock climbing session, Iain was back out in Church Beck on Monday, in much better conditions - running a ghyll scrambling & canyoning session for a much smaller group.

Richard Gregory booked this session for himself and a couple of work colleagues whilst on holiday in The Lake District from Birmingham.

Photo one shows the party in the first deep pool upstream of the turbine house in Chuch Beck. Today, the ghyll was much lower than two days previous - when Iain & a party of graduate apprentices were struggling to get upstream at this point. See the pictures from that session here!

The second photo shows the group at the point where Church beck really narrows in, the waterfalls become higher & the pools become deeper. There is a possibility for a jump in to the pool from the l/h side of the waterfall and everyone had just done that.

Many groups finish their ghyll scrambling session here - having ascended the ghyll to this point. Upstream from here, the way on is barred by the chockstone pitch which is the final jump on the Church Beck Canyoning descent that we do with clients.

Photo three shows Richard being lowered down the Miner's Bridge waterfall while Rhos & Simon look on.

Many parties coming to Church Beck use this waterfall as the starting point for the canyoning descent of the ghyll. They are not made aware of the additional section upstream of Miner's Bridge.

Kendal Mountaineering services is one of the few Lake District based outdoor pursuits company to actually truly offer a complete Church Beck ghyll scrambling & canyoning session and we do this by taking clients to the very head of the gorge where it is possible to climb down beside the hydro scheme intake and do several pools and be lowered down another waterfall before arriving at Miner's Bridge and the fall in photo three. It doesn't take us much more effort to provide you with this extra 300m of canyoning and we figure you deserve a good session for your money!

The final photo shows Richard swimming towards Iain - having just slid down the chockstone pitch of Church Beck. This is an exciting conclusion to an excellent ghyll scrambling & canyoning session.

Unless specified otherwise by you, all of our ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions in Church Beck consist of an upward ghyll scramble (also known as gorge walking) followed by a complete descent of the gorge from its top - back to this point.

For £45 per head (discounts apply as group numbers increase) you get an extremely good session with qualified & experienced staff and all of the specialist technical safety kit you'll need to do it.

So, whilst the weather is hot, (or even if it's wet) give us a call at Kendal Mountaineering Services and we'll be happy to organise your Lake District based ghyll scrambling & canyoning session. You'll love it!

Everyone in this group thoroughly enjoyed themselves - as the pictures testify. We look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Beginner's Rock climbing courses in The Lake District. Hutton Roof, Sunday, June 26th 2011

Richard Taylor booked a beginners rock climbing session in the Lake District for his mate Nasir and a bunch of their friends - as part of Nasir's stag event here in the area.

The party consisted of old university chums and relatives who had travelled from various corners of the country - to attend Nasir's stag weekend.

The team had booked into accommodation in Kendal and had been to Aspatria the previous day to try a spot of paintballing.

The weather over the weekend had, to this point, been rather odd with the weathermen forecasting overcast weather with showers and rapidly climbing temperatures over the weekend. Certainly, the weather the day before had made Iain's ghyll scrambling session in Church Beck interesting to say the least, but one thing we didn't want for a beginner's rock climbing session was wet weather and wet rock!

After watching the forecast the night before, Iain decided the only place to take the stag party for their beginners rock climbing session was Hutton Roof - a fab little limestone outctop east of the M6 near junction 36. Officially, this venue is not in the Lake District, but of course we don't run all of our rock climbing courses within the national Park if better conditions exist elsewhere; and Iain felt that the conditions for a rock climbing session at Hutton roof might just be ideal. He was right!

The first shot shows the stag party in the sun at Hutton Roof - about to set off to the rock climbing venue. Photo two shows Naz - the stag, being lowered down the rock face by his mates on what had been his very first rock climb.

Photo three shows Richard (right) and howard (left) topping out on two of the harder routes this stag party was to attempt on the day.

Overall, everyone managed most of the six single pitch rock climbs Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services set of for the team. The weather stayed fine throughout - apart from a few spots of rain at one point and it was, as forecast, baking hot. The venue turned out to be just right for the needs of the group with rock climbing & abseiling being a new experience for most of the group members attending.

The final photo shows everyone in Nasir's stag party stood at the top of the highest cliff at Hutton Roof - about to take part in an abseil. Over in The Lake District National Park, it was overcast and looked to be raining, but at Hutton Roof, we had managed a good half day session of rock climbing & abseiling for this stag party and they were all very satisfied with their experience - the photos here say it all.

Remember - you can book any of Kendal Mountaineering Services comprehensive list of activities for your half or full day session as part of a stag or Hen event. These activities include Canoeing, Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Abseiling, Caving, Ghyll Scrambling, Canyoning, orienteering, scrambling and team building. Contact us to organise your event with a difference and we'll even advise you on accommodation and other things to do in the area - we are happy to help any way we can!

Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District. Church Beck, Coniston, Saturday, June 25th 2011.

On Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services ran a corporate ghyll scrambling session for Gen II's Nuclear Graduate Programme.

This ghyll scrambling session in The Lake District was run as part of an initial team building weekend by Gen II and the people seen here in the first photo were university graduates being brought together for the first time after having been successful in joining the Nuclear Graduate Programme. So, the objective for the weekend was for these people to get to know each other and using a ghyll scrambling session is no better way to get people working together and looking after each other.

This was especially true on Saturday. After the overnight rain, Church Beck at Coniston was at the limit for safe use as a ghyll scrambling venue for adults.

After a reconnoitre by Iain and assisting Instructor Martin Kenyon, it was decided that it would still be possible to use the venue but that it would not be safe to do the usual ghyll scrambling ascent followed by the canyoning descent that we do as the standard Church Beck trip with Kendal Mountaineering Services - there was just too much water and this can be seen in photo two.

However, what we had made for a challenging and demanding yet exciting ghyll scrambling session where everyone truly had to work together as part of a team to make the session as success.

Photo three shows the group less than a third of the way up the ghyll scrambling trip - taking a breather in a relatively slow flowing pool and having a great time.

The final photo shows the team a little way further up the gorge and really having to work at making upstream progress by helping people from above and below each difficulty.

Although this team were unable to achieve more than the upstream ghyll scrambling (also known as gorge walking) ascent of Church Beck, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and although they perhaps didn't realise at the time, the experience was instrumental in improving self esteem and confidence and getting everyone working well together and talking to each other - some of the many spinoffs resulting from a shared experience in the outdoors with Kendal Mountaineering services.

Apparently, other graduates who have missed out on one of our ghyll scrambling sessions are disappointed to have done so - whilst those who have yet to come can't wait! Such is the power of the experiences we provide people.

Other photos from this session can be viewed here. To book a ghyll scrambling and canyoning session for your stag party, corporate group or just for a bunch of mates contact us here. Don't forget - we know all of the best locations to carry out this fantastic activity in The Lake district and chances are - there's one near to where you are staying.

Blog post to follow when Iain has a moment!!

Friday 24 June 2011

Mountain Navigation Skills training weekend in The Lake District. June 18th & 19th 2011.

Linda Richards & Colin Gardner contacted Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services expressing an interest in joining one of our Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills Training weekend Courses.

As it happened, we didn't have a group going out over the weekend, but Iain offered to work with the pair (we will help anyone where we can) and certainly the idea of two clients to one Mountaineering Instructor appealed - due to the opportunity for very good coaching.

Colin & Linda (photo one) spend a great deal of their spare time hill walking but had never attended any formal Mountain Navigation Skills training.

Here at Kendal Mountaineering Services, we run all of our Mountain Navigation Skills training courses to MLTE standard with an emphasis on your progression over the length of your course.

As well as two day Mountain Navigation skills training courses, we also run Mountain Walking Leader navigation refresher days for aspiring Mountain Walking Leaders either as preparation for an assessment or re-assessment. You can book as many or as few days as you like for either Mountain Navigation Skills Training courses or ML Refresher days. We are happy to cover any aspect of either the Summer or Winter Mountainwalking Leader Syllabuses as per your requirements.

For people wanting to tie in some night navigation practise with their Mountain Navigation Skills training couse this is not a problem. If you want to make a proper expedition of it then why not include an overnight camp too? Again, we are happy to organise all of this for you as part of one of our Mountaincraft Courses. Check out a blog post from one of last year's just such courses.

Anyway, Colin & Linda wanted to start from the basics, so, on day one, we started by looking at grid references - how to find and give one, followed by reading map symbols and orientating the map.

Also covered on this day were measuring distance on the map and then pacing it out on the ground. We walked in to Green Quarter Fell (one of Iain's favourite navigation training haunts) from Staveley via a bridleway which we used as a "handrail" to lead us in to the area.

Following this linear feature, in order to help us ascertain exactly where we were at a given time, we identified "tick off features" along the way. These could be anything from walls joining our route to buildings or streams nearby.

Photo two shows the standard issue maps that we us for our Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills training courses. The initial outlay for the Ordnance Survey mapping software - Memory Map seems a lot, but it can be used to print off many A4 sized maps that can then be laminated. These cost pence to produce and last at least several weekends - even in pouring rain! The compass - A Silva Type 4 Expedition has everything needed for measuring distance and taking bearings plus valuable roamer scales for 1:25, 1:50 and 1:40,000 map scales - essential for accurately finding grid references!

Photo three shows Colin and Linda on day two of
their Mountain Navigation Skills training course. By now, they had progressed a long way beyond their skill level at the start of the previous day and here, on Kentmere Pike, were using their compasses to work out what distant features were from their known location on the map.

This is quite an advanced skill, but by now, the pair had covered quite a lot of ground - navigating their way to grid references with and without use of a compass bearing and they were becoming quite adept at measuring distances, using tick off features and walking on a bearing using the compass.

On our first day of the pair's Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills training course, we had based ourselves in the Green Quarter Fell area near to Staveley. On our second day out, we attempted to cover part of the Kentmere Horeshoe starting with Shipman Knotts and eventually ending up on the summit of Harter Fell having crossed Kentmere Pike en route.

Despite the odd shower, the weather over the weekend was relatively kind to us, being for the most part, dry. Sunday, was, initially, wet but this cleared up. Cloud remained around the higher summits all day - a good thing as this meant Colin & Linda had to concentrate on their pacings and compass work. On the relatively featureless walk from Kentmere Pike to Harter Fell, they were able to tell Iain, with accuracy, where they were at all times. Good stuff!

We descended from Harter Fell Summit towards Nan Bield Pass and on this route, the cloud lifted revealing distant Haweswater to the north (photo four). On arriving at Nan Bield, it was time to be heading back to the car. Both Colin & Linda felt that they had benefitted greatly from their weekend of Mountain Navigation Skills training with Iain.

All of the photographs taken over this weekend can be viewed here. To book your Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills training course or your Mountainwalking Leader refresher days with Kendal Mountaineering Services - contact us here.

Iain has a busy few days coming up this weekend. The next posts on the KMS Blog will be about Ghyll Scrambling, Canyoning and Rock Climbing.

Friday 17 June 2011

Guided Lake District Hillwalking day. Scafell Pike, June 15th 2011.

June has been a relatively quiet month so far for us here at kendal Mountaineering Services. Iain has done some outdoor centre work providing Lake District multi-activity days for young people includinging activities such as canoeing & Kayaking, ghyll scrambling and guided hillwalking - which is what today's post is all about.

Iain received a phone call from Lily Butler on vacation here in the Lake District and over from her home in County Tipperary in southern Ireland. Lily, had recently taken up hill walking with a club near her home town called the Peaks Mountaineering Club and has done a considerable amount of walking with them. Whilst here in The Lake District, Lily thought it would be a good idea to try and climb England's highest mountain - Scafell Pike.

Lily was directed to get in touch with us via the staff at Ambleside tourist information centre and contacted Iain to see if it was possible to join a hillwalking party going to Scafell Pike.

Well, we didn't have a party going hillwalking that day, but Iain was available and offered to guide Lily up Scafell Pike if the price was agreeable to her; and of course it included transport from Dunmail House Bed & Breakfast at Grasmere where Lily was staying - to the start of the guided Lake District hill walk & back. Lily decided she was keen and booked Iain's services for Wednesday.

The weather forecast for the day was not great - rain clearing, but cloudy on the fells and temps at 900m - 8 degrees - and this is June! The first photo shows Lily on the path beside Grains Gill looking down towards distant Borrowdale and the second photo shows Lily on the summit of Scafell Pike.

For her ascent of Scafell Pike, Iain chose to drive Lily to Seathwaite in Borrowdale where we could do a circuitous route encompassing two well known routes on to Scafell Pike. We ascended via Grains Gill to Esk Hause and from there to the summit of Scafell Pike via Ill & Broad crags before returning via The Corridoor Route and Styhead Tarn to Seathwaite. As we climbed higher, the cloud rose with us and although it did not clear fully from the summit, we got more views than we thought we would and the day remained largely dry. Lily was delighted to reach the summit of Scafell Pike - her first Lake District mountain!

There were a few other people at the summit but not many - not surpising given the weather conditions but it was nice to sit a chat a while whilst we enjoyed some lunch.

Something much less enjoyable though was the sight of many banana skins that had been thrown down at the summit by thoughtless and inconsiderate people. Lily went around the summit and collected around 15 skins in total which she bagged with the intention of dumping in the nearest refuse bin once she found one; and in photo three we can see that bagful of skins.

There is a myth that banana skins are biodegradable and people seem to use this as an excuse for dumping them on the tops of mountains. Yes they do degrade but they take months to do so! and in the meantime, those of us who do respect the mountain environment have to look at them as they slowly turn from yellow to black.

Iain asks that please! When you go into the mountains - please keep all of your rubbish and dispose of it in a refuse bin and not on our mountains! You are spoiling beautiful places when you leave your rubbish - any sort of rubbish, behind. It is disrespectful to the mountain environment and others who do not litter the hills and it can also be dangerous to wildlife.

Anyway, after this somewhat less than positive experience at the summit, Iain & Lily headed down to find the start of the Corridor Route in the mist and commence the return journey part of Lily's Guided Lake District Hillwalking Day.

We came down out of the clouds at Piers Gill and could see all the way back along our route to Styhead Tarn & distant Borrowdale (photo four)

The final photo is taken from Stockley Bridge in Borrowdale. The start & end of our circuit and only a short walk remained back to the car at Seathwaite.

Lily enjoyed her Lake District guided hillwalking day out with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services and hopes to return again to enjoy all that the area has to offer.

Remember that in Iain, you have a Mountaineering Instructor who has spent almost his entire life in the Lake District and knows the best and most interesting routes up all of the Lake District fells - you'll not find a better hillwalking guide. Also, at Kendal Mountaineering Services, we are happy to provide you with a bespoke Lake District guided hilwalking day - for individual people or groups; and if you need transport, we can organise this for you too.

The rest of our photos from Lily's Lake District guided hillwalking day can be viewed here and if you would like to enquire about your own mountain day out with us, you can contact Iain here. We look forward to working with you.