Sunday 24 June 2012

Half day ghyll scrambling sessions in The Lake District. June 23rd 2012.

Roz Cole booked a half day Canyoning session for herself, her sister Alexis; and Alexis's partner Andy with Kendal Mountaineering Services way back in February as part of a planned trip to The Lake District. Amongst other things, Roz had planned to take part in the Great North Swim which should have taken place on Windermere during Friday 22nd June.

However, recently, the Summer weather has been unseasonable to say the least. It is a great shame as The Lake District is such a beautiful place and there is so much do do when the weather is good.

However, June 2012 has seen some serious flooding around the UK and whilst so far, we have escaped the sort of flooding seen on the south coast and more recently - in West Yorkshire, the Lake District has certainly had more than it's fair share of wet weather.

Unfortunately because of this, Roz's planned swim was cancelled and for many local outdoor activity providers the weather will also have caused problems. For Iain, it meant that taking the three into Church Beck as planned was once again, out of the question.

He offered the three our alternative ghyll scrambling session by way of compromise and it turned out to be a good choice on this day.

Photo one shows Andy followed by Roz & Alexis making their way up Redacre Gill in sporting but acceptable conditions.
Redacre Gill is a venue used by Kendal Mountaineering Services when the usual ghyll scrambling & canyoning venues are too full and therefore unsuitable.

Mind you - Iain had been here exactly a week previously with a stag party and if you look at the ghyll scrambling photos from that session there is no way you would have found that party attempting the short waterfall our three can be seen attempting here in photo two.

The lower part of Redacre Gill consists of a scramble up a bouldery stream bed which can be escaped at any point. Continuing upstream, the channel narrows, the flow becomes more concentrated and the level of challenge increases.

Eventually, we leave the main stream to follow a fantastic little tributary which offers a fine series of challenges throughout it's length and lots of variation.

Shortly after joining this, we enter a gorge containing small waterfalls and pools all of which offer a fair level of challenge when water levels are high.

One such fun part is crawling through a cave under a boulder from a pool in the stream.

In photo three, Roz appears from under the boulder to the amusement of her sister & partner. All three were liberally covered in mud from the crawl  but it was soon washed off again when we got back into the stream.

Above the cave, the gorge narrows and steepens amongst trees and thee are several cascades that really require the use of a rope for clients.

In photo four Andy climbs one of these falls whilst belayed by Iain with a rope to protect him should he slip.

Ghyll scrambling can be described as walking up a mountain stream swimming through pools, climbing up waterfalls and having a lot of fun in the process. We try to make sure that any session we run at Kendal Mountaineering Services is fun but of course your safety and comfort comes first & foremost.

People attending our ghyll scrambling or canyoning sessions can expect to receive a high standard of equipment provision which includes wetsuits, cagoules, bouyancy aids, helmets, harneses and walking boots for your feet. All of this equipment goes to improve your comfort and safety when undertaking any wet session with us.
Photo five shows Alexis, Andy & Roz at the get out point of our alternative ghyll scrambling session in The Lake District.                                                                            Despite the session not being as originally planned  the three had a great experience with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services and it was probably with some relief for Roz that something else that she had organised for her weekend away with family had not been cancelled due to the weather.                                                                                 We will always try to provide you with an alternative if, for whatever reason we are unable to provide the activity session requested. Each of the trio had paid £45 for their half day session with us which is excellent value for the equipment & service that we provide and we are happy to provide sessions for groups as small as two people.                                          To book your ghyll scrambling or canyoning session with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here and remember these sessions are great fun as activities in their own right or when booked as part of a stag or hen event or corporate team building session.

The rest of the photos from this session can be viewed here.

Stag Events in The Lake District. June 16th 2012

Mark Powell had booked a stag event with Kendal Mountaineering Services quite some time previously - having perused a number of local outdoor activity provides and events companies and liking what we could offer him. Initially, Mark had booked for us to provide a half day canyoning session followed by an afternoon of raft building.

By the time Iain & his associate Al met the group on the Saturday morning, it had been raining in The Lake District for almost 24 hours and all streams were very much in spate. The rain showed no sign of abating and clearly, it was going to be a difficult day.
Iain felt that we had to offer alternatives to the Church Beck ghyll scrambling & canyoning session that the group had been looking forward to. Church Beck was massive and it would have been an impossible and dangerous place to work.

So, we offered the group an abseiling session which would be followed by a ghyll scrambling session at an alternative venue which we hoped would still satisfy. We would then finish off with the raft building session as originally planned.

Photo one shows the group kitted up and ready to go at the abseiling venue in Hodge Close Quarry.

In photo two, one of the stag party abseils down to his mates below. It was still raining and we were also getting attacked by midges. The guys enjoyed the abseil alternative and for a few, it was a brand new and very challenging experience - well done!
The abseiling session took us up until almost lunchtime and then we were off over to Great Langdale to our alternative "wet weather" ghyll scrambling venue.

The weather was still appalling. The rain had continued to lash down throughout the morning; and the alternative gill was, well - huge! Photo three shows the remainder of our team, down to six by now, next to the gill - stag resplendent in pink skirt provided by his mates

The other three had decided to retire to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to sit next to a roaring fire and have a pint out of the rain - a wise choice!

We spent the first part of our alternative ghyll scrambling session more on the bank of the ghyll than in it. It was in full flood with a huge volume of water pouring down it and we could hear the occasional rumble of boulders being moved along the stream bed - so not an ideal place to be.

Eventually we reached the tributary that we always head up as part of this ghyll scrambling session and that, too, was massive. So, we bore left on to what is usually an insignificant trickle. As can be seen in photo four - it wasn't today!

Once at the Pike O blisco footpath, we moved back on to our original route following the other tributary up through its gorge climbing up what waterfalls we could climb safely and getting out where it was considered just a bit much!

The final photo from Mark Powells Stag event in The Lake Dstrict shows the group at the get out at the head of our alternative ghyll scrambling venue. Usually, we invite people to enjoy a shower whilst we take this photo but today, the sheer volume of water coming over the fall behind the group would have severely battered anyone attempting to stand under it.

After this, we returned to the vehicles and then went to the ODG to collect the rest of our party before intending to go back over to Coniston Water to finish off with the afternoon raft building session.

The weather had not improved any during the day and the group made a decision that enough was enough. They therefore declined the offer of raft building, and so we called it a day at about 15:30.

It was a real shame that the weather was so bad for the guys as many had travelled a long distance to help their mate celebrate his stag do - they were also camping as well! We hope that they will remember the fun that they had with us despite the conditions and that if they ever return to the area that they do get much better conditions next time. The rest of the photos from this Stag Event in The Lake District can be viewed here. To book your Stag or Hen Event in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services, contact us here.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Canoeing, Mountain walking, gorge walking, and climbing in The Lake District. June 10th - 14th 2012.

Last week was an interesting & varied week for Iain for Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services.

He was, for a change, largely working for someone else on a contracted basis. Sunday June 10th saw Iain in the beautiful Ullswater valley helping to cover 24 people from a number of local businesses who were fundraising for The Oaklea Trust in Kendal.

All of these businesses were involved in a race event which started at Pooley Bridge on Ullswater and finished in Glenridding. The water based part of the challenge was carried out in rafted Canadian canoes and photo one shows the strongest team paddling along a flat calm & mirror-like lake. The weather could not have been better!

After a rapid journey from one end of Ullswater to the other, all teams got changed and ready for the mountain walking phase of the challenge which was.

The 2nd part of the teams challenge was to make an ascent of Helvellyn planned by themselves but to take in a traverse of Striding Edge. They were of course to be accompanied by us instructors.

Photo two shows Iains team getting close to Striding Edge and all looking rather damp as it had rained rather heavily on the ascent. This team was also the one that had completed the journey of Ullswater in the fastest time - and they went on to be the first to complete an ascent and descent of Helvellyn too. The guys were all from Armstrong Watson & Co in Kendal. Well done guys! Further photos from this challenge event can be viewed here.

After a day off, Iain was back working for the same client again - different venue, different group. This time it was primary school pupils from Walsall and the venue was Borrowdale and Derwentwater where there were a range of outdoor activities going on for these young people.

Photo three shows a party of these pupils and fellow instructor Neil Mackay enjoying a top-rope bottom belay climbing session at Brown Slabs on Shepherds Crag in Borrowdale. This is what we would normally offer as an intro to rock climbing half day session and it is ideal for anyone wanting to make the move on to outdoor rock climbing for the first time.

Introductory rock climbing sessions are a good challenge and require teamwork in order for individuals to succeed, hence they are often popular with stag & hen parties looking for an event with a difference.

Both Iain & Neil stayed in Borrowdale for the duration of this work as it provided the opportunity to take in some of areas excellent rock climbing after work.

On the first evening we took a walk up to Black Crag probably best famed for its route "Troutdale Pinnacle" however, Iain was after something a little harder.

Photo four shows Neil heading off up the first pitch of The Mortician (HVS5a). The pinnacle can be seen on the skyline and there are a number of famous rock climbs converging on this famous landmark.

Our route stayed to the left of the pinnacle first climbing a steep ramp before one needed to step up into a very steep & sustained groove followed by a steep crack line.

The final pitch saw us take a sustained traverse on to the pinnacle before finishing up the polished wall above to the top of the crag. It really was an excellent climb and the weather was perfect although a breeze would have been good to keep the midges away.

The next day Neil returned to work at Brown Slabs whilst Iain went for a walk with one of the groups.

All of the children were staying at Borrowdale Youth Hostel so a walk was chosen that would take a morning as we had other things planned for the afternoon.

Photo five shows Iains team on top of Castle Crag in Borrowdale with a view beyond to distant Derwentwater and Skiddaw. The walk was  around 5 miles or so in total, but it gave the children a chance to sample the special place that is Borrowdale.

After the walk and a bit of lunch we all set off from the Hostel to Seatoller and Hause Gill for our afternoon ghyll scrambling session.

Hause gill descends the eastern side of Honister Pass and is a great introductory venue for this fun wet sport. Photo six is taken from half way up the gill where Iain spotted an appropriate photo opportunity.

We were the first group in the ghyll that afternoon and covered a considerable distance wading through pools (swimming through some) and scrambling up waterfalls. The children all loved it. All photographs from this two day mutli-activity course can be viewed here.

Work finished, Iain & Neil decided to stick around for one more night on the premise of the possibility of some further rock climbing in the valley the following day. It was wet overnight and started off cloudy the next day but the walk in to Sergeant Crag Slabs in langstrath saw the weather improve and we enjoyed four climbs on what proved to be a popular venue.

Photo seven shows Neil at the crux on the popular "Lakeland Cragsman" (HVS5a). All of the rock climbs at Sergeant Crg Slabs are long singe pitch route of up to 45m in length and there is a convenient abseil station at the top of the crag. So, if you are climbing with double ropes you can abseil back down rapidly and start on another route within minutes!

After four climbs Iain & Neil drove back to Kendal. Neil headed south to Wales the following day where he will work and rock climb for a month before undertaking the summer part of his BMG guides assessment. best of luck Neil, but you climb so well - it shouldn't be a problem! All other photos from our climbing sessions can be viewed here.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions in The Lake District. June 6th 2012.

 Mike Hill booked a half day of ghyll scrambling and canyoning with Kendal Mountaineering Services for himself and his two children before his brother in law - John, decided that he would also like to join in with his two as well.

Mike had looked at number of Lake District based outdoor activity providers websites before deciding to book with us. He was impressed by the ease of navigation within the website but also the content. As he said, we looked like we knew what we are doing; and with over 15 years in the industry then we believe that is a fair assessment of our service.

Photo one shows the team kitted out as we always kit out our clients for these sessions. Walking boots for grip, ankle support and crush protection, wetsuits for warmth & abrasion resistance, bouyancy aids and cags for support, comfort & warmth and helmets for head protection. At Kendal Mountaineering Services we consider this to be the minimum PPE equipment necessary to keep you safe & comfortable in what can be a fairly extreme environment and we take looking after you very seriously!

So, once everyone is properly kitted out then we can go and have some fun and to facilitate that we did our usual Church Beck ghyll scrambling & canyoning half day session with this party.

The youngsters were particularly keen to get stuck in and get soaked, so Iain made a point of finding every opportunity for them to do so - if you have a look at the rest of the photos taken during this session you'll see what we mean!

Photo two shows the party as we near the head of the upstream gorge walking part of the session. Above the waterfall in the background is the famous chockstone pitch in Church Beck - the last fall on our canyoning descent of the gorge but the end of upstream travel in the gorge.

It is worth remembering that we don't just do ghyll scrambling in the south Lakes at Church Beck. There is also Wren Gill in Longsleddale, Stickle Ghyll  in Langdale, Caudale Beck in the Ullswater Valley and also Hause gill, Lodore Beck and Stoneycroft Gill (also a canyoning venue) in the Borrowdale/Keswick area. And don't forget the full day Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling session - undoubtely the best of its kind in Lakeland.

So there are lots of ghyll scrambling & gorge walking venues in The Lake district that we can take you to and we are happy to travel to work with you near to where you are staying.

Photo three shows young Patrick being lowered down the Miners Bridge Fall in Church Beck. By now we were into the canyoning descent part of the session and having started at the head of the gorge had already having done one lower down a waterfall to get to this point.

We had been in the gorge for quite a while now but everyone was still comfortable and in high spirits - good stuff!

The final photograph of this ghyll scrambling & canyoning blog post shows the team below the chockstone pitch in Church Beck.

The final section of the Church Beck canyoning trip is quite challenging - particularly when you are as small as some of the young people we had here, but they were all keen and thoroughly enjoyed the session.

We hope that the two families enjoy the rest of their stay in The Lake District and perhaps they may join us another time on one of our fantastic half day activity sessions in the area.

Half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions start at just £45 with Kendal Mountaineering Services and the full day Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip is just £75 per person.

Contact us to book your session soon.


Tuesday 5 June 2012

The Esk Gorge. The Lake Districts ultimate ghyll scrambling trip. June 4th 2012

Gemma Athey booked a whole day of ghyll scrambling with Kendal Mountaineering services for herself & boyfriend Nick whilst on a weeks holiday to The Lake District.

Gemma had done some research online and had found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website. She had liked the sound of our bespoke service and that she could book an activity for just the two of them and not be forced to join in with a larger group - even if it was a little more money.

On that note, we are happy to provide any of our half or full day activity sessions for a minimum of two people - or even one provided you don't mind paying the 2 person rate! Gemma & Nick paid Iain £150 for the day and for that they got a full day of ghyll scrambling at the Lake Districts best venue, a lift from Ambleside & back and all of the equipment you can see them wearing in these photographs. Exceptional value or what! 
The Esk Gorge is a 3km/1 hour walk in from the foot of Hardknott Pass although often we'll do that in slightly less time.

Once at the foot of the gorge it is a good plan to eat & drink before getting changed into the ghyll scrambling kit as it will likely be at least four hours before you will eat and drink again!

Having stashed kitbags we get in at the foot of the gorge and the fun begins.

Immediately - you'll be swimming! The first small pool is a good 7 feet deep and then, after scrambling up a few small waterfalls and pools you are presented with a massive pool some 50 feet long, 18 feet wide and at least 10 feet deep.

There are many such pools along the Esk gorge such as this one set amid high cliffs and offering the opportunity as seen in photo two to make a challenging jump into deep water.

Not only are there deep pools to jump into and swim across on an Esk Gorge ascent, but also a number of waterfalls that require the use of a rope for safety when ascending.

The waterfall in photo three is about half way or 1 kilometre up the Esk Gorge and here, Gemma climbs whilst Nick waits below. To get to where Gemma is now one has to pass right through the waterfall which is a particularly powerful and challenging jet.

The Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip is approximately 2kms long and an ascent of 200m or 660 feet in vertical hieght. There are easy angled sections with deep pools interspersed with steeper sections with rather higher waterfalls and there are some sections where you are hemmed in by high rock walls as you scramble upstream - swiming through pools and climbing up waterfalls.

The upper part of the gorge is a real canyon - full of trees and at an easier angle compared to the lower & middle section of the trip. However, it narrows in on a number of occasions with the inevitable deep pool and waterfall. Eventually, one climbs the last fall and arrives at the last deep pool (photo four) before finishing at a gentle meander where the Esk leaves Upper Eskdale.
The final photo shows Gemma & Nick above the head of the gorge with breathtaking mountain scenery beyond. Scafell (Englands second highest peak) forms the rugged backdrop on the left and Scafell Pike - Englands highest mountain is just above Gemmas head.

Fortunately, after all of that time spent in the gorge, the way back to the start is an easy angled path down the east bank back to the bags and this only takes about 20 minutes.

After getting changed and walking back out, it was still 16:15 before we got back to the KMS Mondeo and we still had the drive back over Hardknott & Wrynose to get the couple back to Ambleside where Iain had collected the pair at 09:00.

For this reason, the Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling trip is not included in our half day activity sessions such as ghyll scrambling at Stickle Ghyll or Canyoning at Church Beck - these can be done in four hours and at a starting price of £45 per person. However, the Esk Gorge as a full day outing is hard to beat at £75 per person.

To book your Esk Gorge day or half day ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here. Additional photographs from Iains Esk Gorge day with Gemma & Nick can be viewed here. We look forward to working with you.