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.