Monday 30 April 2012

All day caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Sunday April 29th 2012

After working on a Lake District Based Ghyll Scrambling Session on Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services was back out the next day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Steven Finkill and Sally Stevens had travelled up from Manchester on the Saturday to go caving with Iain on Sunday and had arranged a whole day underground. Iain met the pair at Inglesport and then off we went to Long Churns.

The forecast for the day was, quite frankly, hideous. Very strong N Easterly winds, temperatures close to freezing on the mountains and heavy rain forecast. Definitely not a great day to go caving and Iain thought the pair keen - they certainly were!

Photo one shows the pair in Long Churns Lane as we were lashed by the weather. Stevens face says it all, Sally had the same smile on her face all day long!
After getting fairly battered by the wind on the walk in, getting underground in Long Churns was considerably more pleasurable. Iain had been concerned by the weather forecast as a cavers main danger underground in wet weather is being trapped by rising floodwaters.

However, despite the forecast, it wasn't really raining all that much; and the stream flowing through Long Churns was very low. We had great fun making our way from Middle entrance down to Lower Long Churns and on to The Cheese Press where photo two sees Sally having successfully tackled this famous challenge.

After The Cheese Press, we went on to the Dolly Tubs where, with lights off, we could see daylight entering from Alum Pot. We could also here the wind roaring outside as well.

We went back out to daylight via Diccan Entrance to check the weather before going underground - again at Middle Entrance; and down to Babtistry Crawl - doing this and then emerging in Upper Long Churns.

To complete the circuit, we went back to middle Entrance and then climbed the entrance waterfall before heading on upstream to Doctor Bannisters Washbasin and the final climb out of the upstream entrance to Long Churns. Steven & Sally were full of enthusiasm - having experienced pretty much all we could do in Long Churns. Photo three is taken at the upstream entrance.
Having started at 9am, but only being a party of three, we had swiftly covered all three kms underground in Long Churns and it was only just mid-day.

The weather above ground was wild & cold. but little rain had fallen, so we nipped up to Borrins Moor Cave for a short circuit around there. Steven felt the need to check out the wet downstream exit from Borrins Moor (heaven knows why!) and got himself fairly soaked in the process.

Borrins moor is an interesting caving experience with four upstream entrances all leading to the wet & low downstream exit. Iain chose to take the pair to the west entrance which is initially a walk in before one arrives at the wet & muddy bedding plane crawl leading to the wet downstream exit.

Given the temperatures - none of us really wanted to experience that so Iain took the pair out via a tight little exit which they found quite exciting. In photo four, Steven is last out of this exit.

Photo Five shows Steven & Sally at the entrance to Browgill Cave at Birkwith after we had sat in cars with engines & heaters running in order to get warm again following our bone numbing walk back from Long Churns.

Some warmth, a hot brew and a bit of lunch put the pair in the mood for another good cave and Browgill is just such a place with lots to offer so, off we went there.

Long Churns cave system is a walk in & out (level 1) trip where roped sections do not exceed ten feet in hieght. Browgill can be done without the need to take a rope at all provided you do not abseil in from, or climb out via Calf Holes - in which case it then becomes a level two trip.

Iain is a BCA qualified Level II Cave Leader which means that he can do many interesting & challenging caving trips in The Yorkshire Dales National Park and he has over twenty years experience of caving in the area.
Despite the fact that we could have made Browgill a more callenging level II through trip, Iain thought it was better to keep the pair moving. We were all fine underground - it was just the fact of getting chilly on any walk ins or walk outs. The wind had picked up since the morning and was truly bitter.

Browgill Cave starts with a walk in upstream that lowers to a crawl before one can stand up again in a high rift passage. The rift narrows as one heads towards the disconcerting rumble of the waterfall which should be visited (we did!).

To get upstream of the waterfall, one has to climb up a parallel rift with a fixed rope ( Steven is climbing this in photo six) to get up to the roof & then crawl back down into the stream above the waterfall.
Upstream of the waterfall, the roof quickly lowers and one has the choice of two passages (both tight) to gain Hainsworths passage which links the lower part of Browgill Cave with the upper passageway.

Photo seven shows Sally emerging in Hainsworths Passage having just followed Iain through "The Letterbox". After this, 300m of passage found us at Calf Holes looking up at the waterfall where Browgill Beck enters the cave.

We then reversed the entire route back to the entrance taking a different route out of Hainsworths Passage via "The Slot". The pair had experienced a fairly hardcore day, but whilst the weather above ground was very poor, conditions underground had been fine.

After getting changed we all drove back to Inglesport where Steven & Sally were able to change into dry clothes and then we all enjoyed a pint brew and a bacon & sausage butty before heading our separate ways with everyone having had a great day. Iain would like to thank Steven for the brew & butty.

Steven & Sally were underground with Iain for around 6 hours as part of their all day introduction to caving session and had visited three different cave systems during the session. The pair had paid £70 each for their day with Iain as their guide and as part of the fee they were provided with caving oversuits, wellington boots, belts and helmets with lights. Iain also provided them both with a hot brew at lunchtime!

They had a great day caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services - and you can too! To find out more about our introductory caving half & full day sessions - contact Iain here.

The rest of the photographs taken during this caving day can be viewed here. We look forward to working with you.

Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District. Saturday 28th April 2012.

Last Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services assisted another Lake District based Outdoor Pursuits provider by delivering a ghyll scrambling session on their behalf with 14 guys who were attending a stag weekend.

Photo one shows the party as we set off into Stickle Ghyll in Langdale for our afternoon of wet fun.

Stickle Ghyll is almost always done in ascent and this is known as ghyll scrambling or gorge walking. There are not many deep pools on the Stickle ghyll scrambling ascent deep enough to jump into without hitting the bottom - just a few.

However, the chap in photo two has just slid off the horizontal branch in the top of the picture that overhangs this particular pool about halfway up the ghyll so - this is one place where people can experience complete rehydration.

If you have a look at the pictures taken at this point people were pulling all sorts of faces. Some people clearly found jumping into what was still fairly chilly water quite shocking!

The lower part of stickle Ghyll is fairly interesting with one roped climb and a lot of scrambling upstream up easier waterfalls and through pools with the one opportunity to jump in.

Beyond the jump, the angle of the stream eases to a mere wander up a boulder strewn channel with nothing of interest until one is about 200m upstream of the footbridge. In photo three the party is just entering the upper part of the gorge en route to the next section of pools & waterfalls.
The final section of the Stickle Ghyll gorge consists of a number of waterfall interspersed with pools and as one gets higher, the waterfalls get steeper & more serious.                                                                              Photo four shows one member of this stag party as he gets roped up the second roped climb on Stickle Ghyll. After reaching this point we generally exit the ghyll and descend - unless we have a smaller party and time permits - in which case a further roped climb may be made.                                                                             Ghyll scrambling or gorge walking is great fun and ideal as part of a day out or family holiday in The Lake District and popular with Stag & Hen parties. For something a bit more challenging though, our Ghyll Scrambling & canyoning sessions in Church Beck are hard to beat! For more information about ghyll scrambling and/or canyoning with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here.
We look forward to working with you.        

Sunday 22 April 2012

Introductory caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. April 21st 2012.

It has been a wet theme for this week for Kendal Mountaineering Services. Since last weekend, we have run two ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions in The Lake District - one was for a stag event, the other was for two private clients.

Today (Saturday) we had another two sessions to run for stag events. This post is about Iains session underground in Long Churns with Andrew Hatherleys team. Meanwhile, Martin Kenyon, one of our associates, was busy in Church Beck running another canyoning session for a different stag event. A busy day for us!

Photo one shows Iains group of eight in Long Churns Lane all kitted up and ready to go underground. It was as well that we were well equipped as it was cool & showery weather. Indeed, a whitening of hail can be seen on Simon Fell immediately behind the lads heads so it was pretty close to freezing up there!

Long Churns is a fantastic cave system for an introduction to caving. There are several kilometres of passageway to be explored - both wet & dry, large and tight. There is something for everyone in this cave system and it is possible to spend a whole half day caving session underground here.

We entered the cave system via Middle Entrance and headed downstream in the main passageway where there was already quite a bit of water flowing. Eventually, we left the main streamway and headed down the fossil passageway of Lower Long Churns ultimately arriving at the bedding plane crawl called The Cheese Press. In photo two - one member of our party is achieving success in The Cheese Press. Out of the eight, only four of the group attempted it.

Being mindful of the weather conditions and water levels, Iain chose this point to nip back out & quickly see what was happening with the weather. It was still raining sporadically, but the main stream - Alum Pot Beck, had risen noticeably.

Iain returned to the group and we left Lower Long Churns exiting via Diccan Entrance.

There was still over an hour of time available to the group on their introductory caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. Despite the increased level of flow through the cave, Iain decided that it would still be ok to go upstream into Upper Long Churns via Middle Entrance. Photo three shows the group at Middle Entrance about to head upstream into the cave behind.

Photo four shows the group about halfway along Upper Long Churns passageway.

Here, the cave roof has risen from stooping height at Middle Entrance to being about 20 feet above our heads and at this point Alum Pot Beck flows through a deep & narrow canyon.

Iain brought the guys here so that they could experience how it felt to be in a powerful flow of water as seen in the foreground. Indeed there was water everywhere - in the air too - as the backscatter from the flash shows.

At this point we turned and headed back out to Middle Entrance. There was so much water it would have been difficult indeed to have exited by Doctor Bannisters Washbasin if not impossible. Had the water continued to rise then, it would have become a serious situation. Retreat was the sensible option.

Photo five shows what we found back at the surface. The waterfall in the background is on Alum Pot Beck just before it crashes down into Alum Pot and compared with when we crossed it going underground, it had risen in a big way. Long Churns is a system to be wary of in wet weather. Many inexperienced people have been trapped underground by flooding here.

Iain has many years of experience leading groups underground and has an extensive knowledge of caving in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Not only do we run half & full day introductory caving courses (known as level 1 trips) but also Level 2 trips which involves going deeper underground. We can also combine a level 1 trip with a level 2 trip on the same day provided you have progressed sufficiently during the morning session and you can read about just such a combined L1 & L2 day here.

Prices for our caving sessions start at £45 per person and £70 for a full day. These are ideal for people looking for a challenge or as part of a stag or hen event.

To book your caving session with Kendal Mountaineering services contact us here.

To see the rest of the photographs taken during Andrew Hatherleys caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park click here. Thanks to Inglesport for supplying the caving helmets and being, as always, a great venue to meet and eat.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Canyoning sessions in The Lake District. April 18th 2012

After last weekends stag event - canyoning & ghyll scrambling on Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services was back in Church Beck again a few days later doing exactly the same thing again - not with five but with two people this time.

Niamh Carey & her partner Neil had planned a four day break in the Lake District and had gone online to find something different to do whilst on their visit. Niamh liked the sound of Canyoning with Kendal Mountaineering services and gave us a call.

Photo one shows Neil & Niamh getting warmed up in Church Beck. We did the usual upward gorge walking ascent followed by the canyoning descent and the pair loved it.

Many people come on half & full day outdoor activity sessions in The Lake District asking if they can join a bigger group. There is the notion that if you join a bigger group that you will pay less - often true, but there the emphasis on value for money can often end.

Being part of a bigger group means less attention for you from the instructor and more waiting around at bottlenecks such as abseils, jumps or climbs. This will result in your feeling uncomfortable as when you are not moving - you will start to chill. The smaller your group, the less hanging around and the less time to get cold - an important consideration when undertaking a wet session!

Niamh & Neil paid £45 each for their ghyll scrambling & canyoning session with us. This might sound like a lot but you get a session which can last up to four hours and they got one qualified & experienced instructor to the two of them. Also, with us you always get all of the equipment you see both people wearing here - walking boots wetsuits, a cagoule each, bouyancy aid, helmet and harness - for your comfort & safety.

So really, we don't think this is bad value - particularly when we will work with a minimum of two of you - or even one person (but at the price of two). We want you to enjoy the outdoors as much as we do and hope that you will come back & do something else with us again.

In photo two Niamh enjoys the first lower on the canyoning descent of Church Beck. Having done the upward ghyll scrambling part of the session, it was time to get out the rope & harnesses and head down the upper part of the ghyll.

After the first lower we eventually arrive at the Miners Bridge fall and then shortly after that a section known as the "top jumps". This is a narrowing of the gorge where Church Beck plunges over a series of chockstones into deep pools.

In photo three Neil is being lowered another six foot to a ledge from where he can jump safely into the pool below. At Kendal Mountaineering Services we take your safety very seriously and always use this procedure at the top jump. Many people are asked to jump from the boulder beyond Neils head into the narrow slot & pool below. In the past this has resulted in people bashing elbows etc off the right wall and in times of drought there has been incidences of broken ankles as people can hit a rock in the bottom of the pool.

The other thing is that many people find that to do this challenge that way too much and simply refuse to jump; and if you can't do the top jump you will miss out on the rest of this - the most exhilarating part of the whole ghyll scrambling & canyoning experience!

Iain is pleased to say we have never had one refusal yet!

The final photo from todays ghyll scrambling & canyoning session shows Niamh & Neil at the foot of the final jump and basically, the end of their session.

So had they enjoyed their session? Iain thinks the answer was yes. Had they received value for money - undoubtedly. You can also have a fantastic experience with us and feel challenged but be safe so contact us at Kendal Mountaineering services to book your outdoor adventure here.

You won't be disappointed!

There are only four photographs on this blog post but you can view all of the photographs Iain took during Niamh & Neils ghyll scrambling & canyoning session here. To find out more about what we get up to at Kendal Mountaineering Services you can read further blog posts dating back to 2009 here.

We look forward to working with you.

Monday 16 April 2012

Stag & Hen events in The Lake District. April 14th 2012.

The ghyll scrambling & canyoning season has finally started here in The Lake District for Kendal Mountaineering services.

Iain ran a half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning session on Saturday as part of a stag event for a group of seven chaps who had come over to the Lake District from Keighley & Leeds for the weekend.

The weather was pleasant but not warm - however, as can be seen in photo one, the guys were kitted out in wetsuits, cagoules, bouyancy aids helmets & walking boots to keep them comfortable and protected for what lay ahead. This is our standard equipment issue for all ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions.

Iain arranged to meet the guys at Church Beck near Coniston for their half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning session.

The first part of our session started with an upward ascent of Church Beck and this is known as ghyll scrambling or gorge walking and involves walking up the stream bed, climbing up small waterfalls and swimming in pools as can be seen in photo two.

Ghyll scrambling or gorge walking is an exhilarating, refreshing sport and great as part of a family day out, a holiday or an organised event such as a stag or hen weekend or a corporate event. Prices with Kendal Mountaineering Services start at £45 per person for a half day session, but the more mates you bring along, the less it costs!

After around 750m of easy ghyll scrambling, Church Beck becomes more serious in so much that the gradient steepens and the gorge becomes narrower.

Eventually, one encounters the first big waterfall which, if climbed, requires the use of a rope. What we do here is to leave the bed of the ghyll altogether and make our way to the top of the ghyll to start our canyoning descent of Church Beck.

In photo three, Graham, the session organiser, gives us a wave as Iain lowers him down the second waterfall (the Miners Bridge fall) encountered on the Canyoning descent. Clearly he had every confidence in what he was doing and in the fact he was safe!

Beyond the previous photograph, having lowered everyone down the Miners Bridge fall, our party arrived at a section known as "the jumps". This is the narrowest & steepest section of the gorge with some high waterfalls and deep pools.

The first jump is to the right of the view in photo four and is around 4m from a jammed boulder in to a narrow slot below - a risky proposition!

At Kendal Mountaineering services we choose to reduce the risk of injury by using a rope to bypass the narrow slot and lower clients down to a point where they can jump into the pool below without a risk of bashing themselves. We also find that more people are willing to attempt the challenge by doing it this way than if you are asked to launch yourself unprotected off the jammed boulder. If you can't do the first jump, you'll miss out on doing the next two as well!

We were not the only group doing the jumps by this time as can be seen by the large group waiting at the outflow of the pool below the first jump. Our team can be distinguised by the blue helmets. Having lowered everyone down the first jump, Iain was about to follow himself!

The final photo from this ghyll scrambling & canyoning session in Church Beck shows everyone safely at the foot of the final drop with another team behind us about to take the plunge down the final waterfall.

We were down a man as one young lad had decided he had had enough of getting cold & wet so had dipped out of doing the canyoning descent part of the ghyll.

The other four thoroughly enjoyed the canyoning descent and all agreed what a great session it had been. Next stop - the Black Bull Inn in Coniston for a beer before a night on the town in Kendal for.........more beers and a curry!

Iain hopes that the lads enjoyed Kendal as much as they did their ghyll scrambling & canyoning session with us. To see more photographs taken today click here.

To book your ghyll scrambling & canyoning session with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services or enquire about a package for your stag or hen event then please contact us here.

We look forward to working with you.

Monday 9 April 2012

Canadian Canoeing Skills Training Courses in The Lake District & North Lancashire. April 2nd - 6th 2012.

During the first week of April, Iain has been busy - working on behalf of the Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training at their Halton Training Centre near Lancaster.

Five cadets from the Sheffield ACF were joined by a cadet instructor from Workington to attend this course known as the Open Canoe Foundation Course (O2F).

As the term foundation course suggests - this is intended to provide cadets with the basic knowledge required to start paddling open canoes (Canadian Canoes) on their own or as a pair. Photo one shows the group on day two of their Open Canoe foundation course on Coniston Water - paddling in tandem (as pairs).

Shortly after photo one was taken, we had lunch on Peel Island (Wildcat Island if you have ever read Arthur Ransomes book "Swallows & Amazons"). We had, by this point, been joined by Infantry Training recruits also staying at Halton TC.

As can be seen in photo two, the difference between what cadets & ITC recruits get up to can be fairly radical. Unlike the ITC Recruits in this photo Iain had no intention of asking his charges to jump into the freezing water today and it was cold - this was the start of that cold spell last week when winter returned to the North & East of the UK with a vengeance for 48 hours and the forecast northerly wind hit us fairly shortly after this photograph was taken.

After two days of skills training in which Iain taught his cadets everything he could think of to do with Canadian Canoes, it was time to go on our expedition.

As part of every Open Canoe Foundation Course it is expected that candidates will undertake at two day jounrney involving an overnight camp. Our expedition involved paddling 20 kilometres along the Lancaster Canal starting in Lancaster & finishing south of Garstang.

Owing to the inclement wintry weather in The Lake District, it was deemed that this would be a more appropriate challenge for the group; and a challenge it certainly was!

Canadian Canoes are large craft. A small on is typically 13 feet long and the largest are up to 17 feet long. These days they are made out of plastic laminates such as Royalex or cross-linked Polyethylene to give then a low weight. However owing to the fact that they sit high in the water they are easily affected by wind. During our journey down the Lancaster Canal, we were constantly being blown sideways by the strong N Easterly wind that blew all day.

The cadets were expected to paddle their boats solo ie on their own, so by the end of 12km Iain had a tired group on his hands; and it wasn't until 8pm that we erected camp at a convenient campsite on the side of the canal.

Apart from the wind, we didn't encounter many other hazards on the canal apart from Canal barges such as the one seen in photo four. These are slow moving longboats with luxuriously decorated interiors as they are very often floating homes for people undertaking canal cruises. What a mellow way to get around!

Photo Five shows Rachel in the front of Iains boat with Jerome still paddling solo towards the end of day one of the exped.

As can be seen, Canadian Canoes are fantastic craft to use when undertaking a water based expedition
as they have loads of room on board for stowing equipment such as dry tubs (the blue drum) and dry bags - essential to keep clothing, food & camping equipment dry. The Canadian Indians used to travel for days in them and they are ideal for a multi-day journey such as a river trip.

Kendal Mountaineering Services offer introductory half day Canadian Canoeing and Kayaking half & full day sessions in the Lake District. Prices start at just £45 per person for a half day session of £70 for a full 8 hour day with Lunch for an additional £6 per person. Canadian Canoeing is great as part of a fun family day out or part of a Stag or Hen Event. Prices quoted are for a minimum of two people. Contact us to book your session on one of the areas lakes or rivers - you won't be disappointed!

Mountain Navigation Skills Training courses in The Lake District. March 31st/April 1st 2012.

During the weekend of March 31st/April 1st, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services ran a Mountain Navigation Skills Training course for four members of the general public.

From L - R Fiona, Andrew, Shelley & Rachel had all booked on to our course with a view to improving their map reading & navigational skill ability.

Photo one is taken atop a fairly insignificant ring contour in the Green Quarter Fell Area of Kentmere. By this time it was early afternoon on day one.

Prior to photo one, we had spent some considerable time looking at orienteering the map, measuring distances both on the map & by pacing and had followed a linear feature (linear features can be walls, fences, footpaths, streams etc) to get us from our start point to the location in photo one.

The group had also progressed to being able to find and to be able to give a grid reference for a specific location on the map.

By mid-day we had moved on to more advanced navigational techniques such as using the compass to take and walk on a bearing between two grid references.

In photo two everyone is working together to find the next grid reference, work out the distance and the bearing needed to get there.

Photo three is taken on Day two and here two candidates are discussing the best way to get to the next grid reference using one of our laminated maps. These are provided for you as part of our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses in both 1:25,00 and 1:50,000 scales covering that we use - they are cheaper than the Ordnancy Survey sheets - plus they stand up well to wet weather!

On day two we had moved slightly further north on to part of the Kentmere Horseshoe - going higher than the previous day and consolidating all of the skills learnt during day one - and adding new skills along the way.

Photo four on a gloriously sunny afternoon high on Kentmere Pike with the summits of froswick & Ill Bell across the valley above Kentmere Reservoir.

By this point it was getting to the end of the course but everyone was very satisfied with what they had learned during the weekend.

Typically, on one of our Mountain navigation Skills Training weekends you will cover the following aspects of navigation:-

Orientation of map.
Map to compass (Grid to mag)
Compass to map (Mag to grid)
Measuring distance - on the map & on the ground.
Walking on a bearing/back bearings
Naismiths rule (timing/pacings)
Tick off features
Linear/guideline features
Aiming off
Attack points

The cost per person is £80 each for a two day 16 hour course (minimum of four persons) or if you would like your own bespoke navigation skills training course or Mountainwalking Leader refresher day then contact us at Kendal Mountaineering Services. Night navigation sessions can be bolted on to the weekend course for an extra fee and Iain ran just such a session for Andrew during the Saturday evening.

To see other photographs from this weekend course click here.

The dates for the next Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills Training course are June 30th/July 1st 2012.