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.

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