Monday 30 July 2012

Ghyll scrambling days in The Lake District. The Esk Gorge. July 28th 2012.

Last week Terence Greene booked an all day ghyll scrambling session with Kendal Mountaineering Services for himself & his partner Emma to take place on Saturday 28th July.

Terence had received a recommendation from a friend who had been on one of our ghyll scrambling or canyoning sessions in the past and fancied trying out a session with us. In fact, this wasn't the first time Terence had been in touch, but July has been such a busy month at Kendal Mountaineering Services this was the first opportunity Iain was able to organise this session for them.

Photo one shows Emma & Terence at the start of the Esk Gorge trip - conditioning themselves for what was to come - up to four hours of immersion whilst wading & swimming upstream, climbing up waterfalls and jumping into pools.
For anyone who follows our blog and who might have seen our previous posts about our all day Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling sessions it may be obvious that there was a bit more water about - there was!

The last time Iain was here it was a hot & sunny day in early June before the monsoon broke and water levels were very low. This meant that it was possible to climb many of the easier waterfalls unroped. However, it had clearly rained a fair bit overnight and as the River Esk drains out of a bowl surrounded by Englands highest mountains, the river had risen - making clambering up some of those easier cascades more difficult with the volume of water. Iain had to use the rope on more occasions to prevent the pair being washed away!

Photo two is taken as Terence & Emma prepare to swim across the largest pool in the Esk Gorge - and then climb up the waterfall in the background!

In most ghyll scrambling or gorge walking venues in The Lake District there is often some rock climbing involved somewhere.

In the Esk Gorge there are a number of waterfalls where it is impossible for one to climb the fall directly due to the flow of water or the lack of available holds, so one either has to get out and walk up the bank before getting in again or, wherever possible, we will provide the opportunity to be belayed safely up through the waterfall or next to it.

In photo three Emma climbs on dry rock with the main fall to her left which is impossible to climb being vertical, about 30 feet high; and the highest single drop in the Esk Gorge.

Photo four shows Terence going for it at one of the venues many jumps.

There are six such opportunities that Iain knows of in the Esk Gorge to challenge ones-self by leaping from above into deep pools on this ghyll scrambling trip. Most are generally around the 4 metre mark but there is one (to the right of the pair in photo three) which must  be about 9 or 10 metres.

Jumping into deep water from a height of 4 - 5 metres is a big enough challenge for most people. Anything more than that and it is probably going to hurt if you don't hit the water right. Iain has checked out all of the jumps in any of the ghylls that we invite you to do (including some of those we wont allow you to do!) and this one in photo four is quite good. It is also the final jump on the Esk Gorge ascent.

As will be seen from the quality of the photo Iains camera was now getting quite wet and regardless of the fact it is waterproof - once water gets on the lense that's it! Also, pretty much since we had started the session it had been raining and the River Esk had risen to a such level that the flow was starting to limit what could be done safely. So just above this point, at the final section of gorge, we decided to call it a day.

One the walk back down to where we had stashed our kit the sun came out and things started to dry up. We had gotten changed into our gorge walking equipment in what had probably been the heaviest shower around at the time but at least this time we managed to get changed in dry & sunny conditions.

Photo five shows Emma & Terence as we set off to walk the 3km back to the car. This Esk Gorge session had been a more challenging trip than ususal due to the continuing wet weather and it was certainly cooler than the last visit.

Terence & Emma had thoroughly enjoyed the session though and felt it had ticked all of the boxes in terms of being well & truly different from what they would normally do on their days off. More photos from this session can be viewed here. If you would like to try the Esk Gorge ghyll scrambling session for yourself then contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Multi-activity adventure days in The Lake District. July 23rd 2012.

John Smith booked a multi-activity day with Iain From Kendal Mountaineering Services for himself & his family as they took a short break here in The Lake District at the start of the Summer holidays.

John had Googled ghyll scrambling in The Lake District and found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website was offering just what he was looking for. A quick enquiry found that Iain was available on the day in question and happy to run an abseiling and ghyll scrambling session in the Ullswater Valley very close to where the family were staying at The Inn on the lake.

On the day, the weather was mixed. Streams were in spate on the Kirkstone Pass making Iain wonder if the activity sessions were going to be possible. Fortunately, it was a little less wet down in Patterdale although very windy. Photo one shows the family stacked on the ledge at Thornhow Crag ready to attempt their first abseil of the session.

Photo two shows John attempting abseiling for the first time.

Thornhow Crag is a great little rock climbing & abseiling venue in the Grisedale valley near to Patterdale and is frequently used by the local Outward Bound School and Patterdale Hall to provide introductory rock climbing and abseiling sessions.

There are a number of handy bolts to allow the crag to be rigged for rock climbing & abseiling sessions - but don't turn up just expecting to be able to use the crag without permission, there is a booking system in place.

The whole family tried several abseils here and did very well despite the weather. During the whole time there was a strong westerly wind blasting the crag along with heavy drizzle but despite this it was still warm. An unsual cloud cap remained over the mountains all day producing a steady drizzle although away from the mountains there was blue sky and sunshine!

After the abseiling session the family returned to the Inn on the lake for lunch whilst Iain went to check out the water levels at Glenridding Beck.

The family had collected the wetsuits, walking boots & cagoules before going for lunch and apparently caused some interest when they emerged from their rooms kitted up ready to go; and walked out of the hotel amidst a wedding reception!

We all parked up at Greenside Mines and put on bouyancy aids, helmets & harnesses before heading into the ghyll (photo three).

Despite the relatively low water levels, the lower part of Glenridding beck was very greasy and Iain had to use the rope often just to stop people slipping back down what would normally be easy climbs. All of the family received a thorough soaking but at least the weather was warm on this odd cloudy & drizzly day and they were all having a great time.

The final photograph sees the family at the getout about half a mile upstream of the hydro scheme intake on Glenridding Beck above which there was a considerably bigger flow making this section of the ghyll scrambling session more of a challenge. Despite that, the family thoroughly enjoyed their ghyll scrambling session in The Lake District with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. Other photos from the familys day out with Iain can be viewed here.

If you would like to book a multi-activity adventure day or half day adventure activity session with us in the Lake District then check out what we have to offer on our website and you can contact us here. Remember - wherever you are staying, we are happy to travel to you to run your session. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Multi-activity Adventure Courses in The Lake District July 16th - 19th 2012.

Last week, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services worked on behalf of another outdoor activity provider as tutor for a group of year 10 pupils from Harry Carleton School in Nottingham. The pupils were on a five day visit to The Lake District to enjoy some Outdoor Education just before they broke up for the Summer holidays.

The group were staying at Rydal Hall near Ambleside and on day one (photo one) we had a hill walking day doing a circuit from Rydal Hall via Scandale, Dove Crag and back. This photo shows a rather & bedraggled group not far from Rydal Hall almost at the end of the hill walking day. It had not been a good start to the week with low cloud & rain making the walking day a rather miserable affair.

The weather did improve somewhat for our next day out. Iain and another instructor took the group into the Yorkshire Dales National Park for an introductory level one caving session in Long Churns (photo two).

Long Churns was busy as it often is on a Tuesday with lots of providers taking caving groups underground. We made our way through Upper Long Churns to avoid the inevitable queues for the Cheese Press etc, exited the system via Doctor Bannisters Washbasin and had a great time exploring the lesser frequented Borrins Moor system where there are some great little passageways to be explored and some challenging bits to get through.

After we had been around Borrins Moor, we returned to Long Churns to do the section from Middle Entrance to Diccan Entrance before finishing just in time to meet the other half of the group walking back to the bus. Most of the pupils  thought that the caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was one of the highlights of their stay in The Lake District.

The next day we remained in The Lake District and started with an introductory canoeing & kayaking session.

We ran this from Waterhead near Ambleside - a place where Kendal Mountaineering Services often run our introductory canoeing & kayaking sessions as it is a good place from which to learn flat water skills and then move on to some moving water skills on the nearby River Brathay.

Photo three shows some of the pupils having a good old splashabout on the river Brathay - everyone had a chance to try both Canoeing & kayaking, play a few games, and of course, get very wet!

After canoeing & kayaking, we returned to Rydal Hall for lunch before getting on the bus and driving to Hodge Close for an abseiling session.

Photo four shows one of the pupils having a go at abseiling once she had gotten over the fear of hanging backwards over a cliff - a really serious concern for her.

It took a lot of gentle encouragement & support before this young lady finally decided that she could do it - even though she really wanted to try. In the end, with Iains encouragement, she succeeded.

Often, the courses we run at Kendal Mountaineering Services are done with a purpose in mind and these can include improving self esteem & motivation or working as part of a team. Whilst there were no particular aims for the pupils from Harry Carleton School for this week other than to have fun, we have no doubt that there were lots of positive "spin offs" for many of the young people who attended during this week.

Our final day together was another two session day. Photo five shows Iains team near the top of Loughrigg Fell in Central Lakeland. We had walked here from Rydal Hall and the walk continued to Grasmere Village which is beyond the lake (also called Grasmere) in the photo.

After a stop for icecreams, we continued back to Rydal Hall via the Coffin Road for what would be our final session - ghyll scrambling.

As can be seen in Photo five, it was a much better day - warm & sunny (at times) we could see for miles - even as far as distant Skiddaw through the pass of Dunmail Raise!

The last activity of the week was ghyll scrambling in Rydal Beck (photo six) After getting back from our walk everyone got changed into wetsuits & cagoules and grabbed bouyancy aids and wellington boots before we all headed off into the ghyll starting basically right outside the centre!

Rydal Hall is fortunate in having its own ghyll on site with the ususal mix of deep pools and waterfalls so the group was able to have a great final session. They all got stuck in and worked well together despite there being a fair volume of water flowing

After about an hour & a half of splashing, swimming, climbing and in some places fighting our way upstream we finished off with a jump into the deep pool at the water take off point for the Rydal Hall hydro electric scheme - a wet but happy bunch!

Kendal Mountaineering services offer all of the activities mentioned in this post to the general public. These courses are particularly suited to families with children looking for a holiday with an adventurous twist and indeed - the next post is about just such an adventurous family day out in The Lake District. Now the Summer holidays have arrived - why not contact us to arrange your activity day in area? We can guarantee you'll have a great time and on that note - we look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Level two caving sessions in The Easegill system. Saturday July 14th 2012.

Paul Odgen and Phil Bartlett had previously attended an introductory half day caving session with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services back in back in early May.

On that occasion Iain took the pair into Long Churns and also Borrins Moor caves near Ribblehead. The pair enjoyed their session with Iain so much that they wanted to come all the way back from Manchester for more.

With the weather having been somewhat unsettled recently Iain was thinking about Bull Pot of The Witches for the pairs step up to a level two caving trip - either that or something in Easegill.

Anyway, last Saturday turned out to be a fab dry day and as Iain had already mentioned the possiblilty of doing the County Pot to Wretched Rabbit Passage through trip with the pair, they were eager to give this a go - even though Iain pointed out that it would be a much more strenuous trip than their previous caving session. Photo one shows the pair kitted out ready to go underground on the walk in from Bull Pot Farm to County Pot.

After the mile or so walk over the moor, one reaches Ease Gill - dropping down into the stream valley and immediately arriving at the lidded entrance to County Pot. As the first pitch was around 100m underground, we decided to delay putting on harnesses until just above the pitch head as we didn't want to hang around above ground - the midges at the entrance were horrendous!

Photo two shows Phil being lowered down the first 4.5m pitch to be encountered in County Pot - typical of a level two trip. As a qualified Level Two Cave Leader - Iain is permitted to use ladder & lifeline techniques on pitches up to 18m or 60 feet in height. Although we didn't need to use a caving ladder on this through trip you can see photos of people being belayed up a caving ladder in this previous post from last November.

Having lowered the guys down this first pitch, Iain then followed and "spotted" the guys down the 2.4m pitch into The Broadway.

We had plenty of time, all day in fact, so, Iain decided to take the pair on an almost circular trip from Broadway downstream via Oxford Circus in the direction of Platypus Junction.

From where we entered the chamber at Broadway to Platypus Junction was several hundred metres along an active streamway, sometimes a flat out crawl, sometimes a narrow twisting canyon, and through a rather complicated section of breakdown (a stable roof collapse) befor arriving at Platypus Junction.

In photo three Phil & Paul stand with their hands on "the bill" of the platypus. There is a very nice example of flowstone (a Speleothem) behind Phils head.

At Platypus Junction, we were able to head up another passageway leading in the direction of Spout Hall and more importantly - the way on via Poetic Justice into the further reaches of Easegill caverns.

Poetic Justice (PJ) was soon arrived at - one has to know where to look as the route is not obvious - unless you have been there a few times before! About 75 metres before arriving at Spout Hall one has to duck under an low overhang on the left wall and you will finds yourself looking up into a narrow: and these days VERY polished rift about 3m high.

At this point Iain gave the pair the option to return to the 4.5m pitch via Spout Hall, Showerbath Passage and Oxford Junction should they not feel up to continuing - as one has to make a big commitment to some long strenuous work beyond PJ. Phil & Paul were loving every minute of their Level Two Caving Session so far and were definitely for going on & not back, so.

First of all, Paul had to give Iain a leg up in the narrow rift. It is now so polished that it must be nigh well impossible to get up without some assistance but once up, Iain was able to rig up a belay to bring up first Paul and then Phil who is about to attempt to climb the rift in photo four. He didn't have to try to hard - he was so light Iain literally hauled him up!

Having crawled through the low bedding that is Poetic Justice, Iain found himself at the head of the next pitch - a 5.4m drop into Upper Pierces Pasage.

To his surprise, he found a pull through rigged from the left bolt and a caving ladder attached to the right. So, had we decided beyond this point to reverse the trip then we could still have done so as Iain had left the first pitch in County Pot rigged - just in case.

Photo five shows Paul being lowered down this 5.4m pitch into Upper Pierces Passage during our Level Two Caving Session in Easegill Caverns.

Iain then lowered down Phil before following on the pull through rope. At the foot of the pitch we found several caving bags belonging to York University Caving Club. Thank you guys for being able to use your rope!

Once at the pitch foot, we set off down Pierces Passage to the point where the Trident streamway enters from the right. The trident area of Easegill caverns is a complicated set of passages and the caves in the upper level are so complicated "they defy all description" according to the guide. There is, however, another way back into County Pot via this route bringing one out into County Pot via Splash Chamber, The Manchester Bypass (the high level flood escape  route from Stop Pot) and showerbath passage.

Continuing on down Pierces Passage one eventually comes to the foot of Wretched Rabbit Passage emerging on the right. A little further on, the roof lowers  and then one emerges in the Main Drain (photo six).

The Main Drain of Easegill caverns is the lowest point to which all water entering the system from Easegill Beck on the surface flows to. If one looks at the survey for the system, the Main Drain runs underground almost parallelling the surface streambed from Top Sink at the head of the system all the way to Beck Head where the water resurges into Leck Beck. Between these two points run many caves and active streamways and it is posssible to enter & exit by a number of routes. Our through trip from County Pot to Wretched Rabbit Passage (WRP)  is one of the most popular routes although Lancaster Hole to Wretched Rabbit Passage is another very popular route with a 34m descent down a narrow shaft followed by a long & complicated traverse following the Main Drain to WRP.

After our visit to the Main Drain, we retraced our steps as far as the WRP entrance before commencing the long route back out to surface. The first part of the route is part crawling, part stooping up to the breakdown area at Fourways Junction.

Beyond this we climbed rightwards & upwards into a slightly higher chamber which turned into a rift passage where one has to "back & foot" to avoid slipping down into the tighter section below. For while we lost the active stream which takes a different lower route but eventually we rejoined the stream.

WRP largely takes the form of a narrow & extremely windy canyon where one is either traversing sideways or crawling on the floor. One eventually reaches a 3m waterfall climb and a junction where you must go right. A further section of similar passageway (photo seven) leads one to the boulder wall dropping into Spiral Staircase. Here, WRP opens out into the final high rift at the top of which one finds the exit into daylight. The scaffolding bar is still in place as is a long length of hawserlaid rope - handy for scaling the final but easy climbs at the back of the rift.

At 15:30, having gone underground in County Pot at 10:30, we emerged back out into the daylight after five hours underground on our Level Two caving session in Easegill Caverns.

Wretched Rabbit Entrance can be seen between Paul & Phil and is one of many entrances from  the bed of Ease Gill (foreground of photo). All three of us were pretty tired from our strenous  exertions of the last hour, but very satisfied with what had been achieved.

In terms of the progression from Level one to Level two caving, compared with Long Churns, the step up to level two caving in the County Pot to WRP trip is not technically demanding - there being only three short pitches to deal with en route on the through trip.However, in terms of the physical effort involved; and the distance to be travelled, this trip is of a very much more serious nature and certainly an all day caving trip. The weather on this day was good and conditions within the cave system in terms of water levels - very low. Easegill can be a difficult & dangerous place if the beck is flowing down its course past County Pot.

In terms of suitability of this caving trip as a progression for Paul & Phil, Iain felt that it would be fine provided the guys were prepared to commit to what was involved, but they were both hugely enthusiastic and itching to give it a go - having done a fair bit of research about the route. Paul had even gone to the effort of losing a couple of stone so he could get around easier - bravo Paul!

The final photo from this caving blog post was taken by Paul and shows Phil pointing into the entrance shaft  at County Pot. Iain was down the hole at the time - retrieving his rope and karabiners from the head of the first pitch.

On his return to the surface  we all hiked back over the moor to Bull Pot Farm and washed our very muddly caving suits & kit in the washing pool there before packing up. It was a lovely still, sunny afternoon and the lads set off - having an appointment with a number of bars in Manchester that evening. Iain, meanwhile, ate the lunch he hadn't had earlier and then had a liesurely pack up before heading over the hill and back to Kendal - enjoying the views over to the southern Lake District fells en route. It had been another one of those perfect days! Other photographs from this Level Two Caving Session in Easegill Caverns can be viewed here.

If you would like to enjoy either an Introductory Caving Session or a Level Two Caving Session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services you can contact him here. Introductory Caving Sessions can be of half day duration whereas most Level Two Caving Sessions are a full day out. Please not we will not take you on a Level Two Caving Session unless you have attended a Level One Caving Trip with us previously. Our caving sessions are very popular with Stag & Hen Parties.

Friday 13 July 2012

Ghyll scrambling & canyoning courses in The Lake District. July 12th 2012.

After Iains day over at Nidderdale in North Yorkshire, he was back at work in The Lake District running another one of our popular ghyll scrambling & canyoning half day sessions at Church Beck near Coniston.

Once again, Iain was working with a corporate apprenticeship group from Nucleargraduates on another of their welcome workshops based from Kendal.

Photo one shows the group about to start their session in Church Beck.
Nucleargraduates came to Kendal Mountaineering services looking for a corporate session which would have some relevance to what their organisation was aiming to achieve from these welcome workshops.

The organisation is concerned with recruiting graduates on to an two year apprenticeship programme which, at its end, will ultimately see all of these young people take up careers within one of the many industries associated with nuclear power production, decomissioning and manufacturing.

The welcome weekends allow people within the various intakes to get to know each other. The reason  - they are likely to be working closely together during their apprenticeships within Nucleargraduates.

Kendal Mountaineering Services ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions were seen by Nucleargraduates as something that could enhance and add value to their recruitment workshops in a number of ways.

For the corporate customer, outdoor activity sessions can be used as part of a strategy for individual & team development.

Ghyll scrambling or gorge walking is an activity in which a number of people involved in the session (the team) have to work together to overcome obstacles, adversity and even fear.

By working together to achieve success - aspects of teamwork have to be incorporated. These include support - everyone in the team helping everyone else, communication - making sure that everyone is clear about what is to be achieved & how and trust - being willing & able to receive help from; and give help to others.

The result of impelling people into experiences such as ghyll scrambling & canyoning where they have to work together should be that they will bond as a team of individiuals and improve in their ability to work together (known as icebreaking), form new friendships and see individual improvements in self esteem and motivation. These can all have a positive impact on performance and production in the workplace.

At Kendal Mountaineering services, we have a great deal of experience in designing development training programmes around the requirements of our corporate clients.

Most activities that we offer can be tailored to offer an experience that will suit suit your needs - whether it be aspects of teamwork, team or individual development; or having a fun day out.

You can read more about the sort of courses we can offer you by visiting our website and further information can be found on our Team Building Courses page. Also you can read these reports about previous corporate events and corporate fun days that we have organised.

Should you would like to discuss how Kendal Mountaineering Services are able to help your business with development training packages then please contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Thursday 12 July 2012

North Yorkshire action with Kendal Mountaineering Services. July 11th 2012.

Well, it's the middle of the summer and for us at Kendal Mountaineering Services the busiest time of year - lots of people are out and about and keen to try outdoor activities and lots of activity providers find themselves needing help with bigger groups.

On that note, Iain was in North Yorkshire a few days ago helping another business service requirements for children from Village Camps who were staying in the area.

This was a full day session and photo one was taken at Brimham Rocks where we did some bouldering and rock climbing.

Brimham Rocks is a lovely place and is owned by the National Trust. It located near to Nidderdale and not too far from Harrogate.

The site is basically a gritstone edge similar to those found in The Peak District and consists of gritstone outcrops such as small cliffs or massive boulders surrounded by woodland.

It is a very popular toursist attraction and is used by many outdoor centres as a venue for rock climbing.

Our morning at Brimham was spent climbing up, down & around the many rock outcrops on the site - basically a form of scrambling where three & often four points of contact were required to stay on the rock. We finished the bouldering session atop one of the biggest boulders from where we had some fabulous views of the surrounding area (photo two).

We enjoyed bouldering so much that we turned up a little late at the place where some easy rock climbs had been set up for us all to try.

Photo three shows the students having a go at what we would call an introductory rock climbing session where the ropes are attached to anchors at the top of each climb and a climber is attached at one end of the rope and belayed from the other side.

Once at the top of the climb the climber leans back and is lowered by their belayers back to the ground and this is an excellent way to get young people working together to achieve success at this popular challenge.

Just after we arrived here, the rain started (photo three) and whilst it dampened spirits a little, it was neither heavy enough nor lasted long enough to stop everyone from trying a few climbs and abseils.
The afternoon saw us all relocate to Howstean Gorge in Nidderdale for a session of abseiling and gorge scrambling.

Howstean Gorge is a fantastic place where there are many things to do. They have a Via Feratta course in the gorge and the site is a popular venue for gorge walking.

On site there is a campsite with a fantastic new utilities block and a cafe on the edge of the gorge which about 60 feet deep on average and set in Limestone Rock.

The children were offered two activities here and both can be seen in photo four - abseiling from the bridge in the background followed by gorge walking downstream to get back out of the gorge.

The stream was a little high and quite powerful and being limestone, the bed is smooth and quite slippery. Iains job throughout this afternoon was to get the abseilers off the bottom of the abseil rope and then once he had a group of six or so - take them all back out of the gorge. The quickest way to get back to the foot of the abseil was to............abseil! This meant Iain did it six times!

The owners of the Howstean Gorge venue have done much to develop the site in recent times and as well as allowing other outdoor activity providers to use the venue for a fee they are offering a lot of stuff themselves.

Activities already mentioned include Via Feratta, abseiling, gorge walking and there are also a couple of small caves to explore (known as caving).

Imagine Iains surprise however when he was told that there was a raft coming down the gorge too - but indeed a bunch of people did float by on one (photo five) followed by two other people floating in the water behind. They certainly seemed to be having a great time!

The children were camping on the site overnight before heading elsewhere the next day. Most were international students, we hope they enjoy their stay in the UK and that the weather is a little less wet for them and us.

Apart from the Via Feratta and rafting. You can all enjoy the other activities mentioned in this post here in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering ServicesContact us or give us a call to book your rock climbing, abseiling, scrambling, caving or gorge walking sessions in the area. We look forward to working with you. Other photos from this day out can be viewed here.

Monday 9 July 2012

Introductory canadian canoeing sessions in The Lake District. July 3rd 2012.

During last week Iain ran a number of ghyll scrambling sessions on behalf of another provider and also ran an introductory Canadian Canoeing session on Windermere for Simon Kelly & his partner Claire who were on holiday in The Lake District.

Simon had found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website when googling introductory Canadian Canoeing sessions in The Lake District and contacted us to book.

The occasion was booked as a birthday present for Claire and fortunately the weather was calm & settled making it ideal for Canadian Canoeing although it would change later in the day and rain very heavily again just as Iain and a colleague were about to commence an evening ghyll scrambling session.
Our introduction to Canadian Canoeing courses will give you the basic skills to manoevre one of these craft on flat water - in this case Lake Windermere. The meeting point for Iains session with the couple was at Waterhead at Ambleside which has good parking and easy asccess to the lake and lower Rivers - the Brathay and Rothay.

We started our session by going over the various parts of a Canadian Canoe, design & construction before discussing how to enter & leave a canoe.

We then discussed how to paddle foward & backwards, stop, turn and paddle in a straight line.

Photo two shows the pair during initial skills training learning the draw stroke - this is the ideal stroke if you want to move your canoe sideways.
During any coaching session, it is wise to break things up a bit as variety is good so, having learnt some basic skills in order to be able to make the canoe go where we wanted, the three of us decided to have a journey around the head of Windermere and also to check out some easy moving water.

As Simon & Claire were keen to explore the river Brathay we ventured on to this and Iain gave the pair further coaching in moving water skills - necessary just to make headway upstream because the river was quite high and flowing fast.

We made good use of eddy hopping and eventually arrived at the rapids just upstream of Brathay Bridge (photo three) where the couple attempted ferry gliding. This was top end stuff for an introductory Canadian Canoeing session but the pair did very well.

The final photograph taken during this introductory Canadian Canoeing session was back at Waterhead
after we had undertaken a trip around the head of the
 lake and shows Simon having jumped overboard -
about to get back into the boat hopefully without
capsizing and also tipping Claire into the drink!

No introductory watersports session would be complete without learning what do do if things go wrong and one of both of you finishes up outside of your craft - worse still if it has also capsized! Our skills sessions are all about giving you the basics to go off with confidence and try the sport for yourself.

Simon got back into the canoe by grabbing one of the wooden bracing struts across the boat (called a thwart) and pulling himself into the boat whilst licking his feet on to the surface of the water in order to keep the canoe level whilst he pulled himself in. Simon was successful, so then it was Claires turn.

The pair enjoyed their introductory Canadian Canoeing session with us and intend to go away and practise before possibly returning in the future to learn some moving water skills for one of our river journey trips. We wish them every success with their aspirations. Other photos taken during this session can be viewed here.

Our Canadian Canoeing and Kayaking sessions can be arranged as a half day activity taster sessions or as skills training courses should you be considering taking up the sport for yourself. Contact Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services to arrange your Lake District based session here

More ghyll scrambling sessions in The Lake District. June/July 2012

The latter part of June and beginning of July has seen Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services fairly busy running ghyll scrambling sessions.

In many respects this has been just as well as it has been so wet, many of our dry weather activities such as rock climbing or scrambling would have been difficult - if not impossible in the prevailing conditions.

Photos one & two were taken by Iain during a day in Stickle Ghyll in Great Langdale when he was one of three instructors working for another provider taking these young people from a Walsall based primary School on ghyll scrambling sessions.

These photos were taken on Tuesday June 26th on a relatively dry day when water levels in Stickle Ghyll were low and the weather warm making it ideal for ghyll scrambling sessions with these young people.

Ghyll scrambling or gorge walking as this activity is also known is all about climbing through a mountain stream - swimming through pools, climbing up waterfalls and working as a team to achieve success.

There are a few sections on Stickle Ghyll where use of a rope is necessary to prevent a slip turning into something more serious and in photo two one young chap climbs a cascade whilst secured to  Iain via a rope. All of the children thoroughly enjoyed their ghyll scrambling sessions with us.

Iain again worked with the same young people on Thursday 28th June except this time he was kayaking on Lake Windermere from Fellfoot. Towards the end of the morning session, a violent thunderstorm started combined with a cloudburst which meant a later start for the afternoon group. The incredibly heavy rain also led to problems for Iain getting home later that day - causing serious flooding problems in South Lakeland and in Kendal town centre.

We were concerned that the heavy rain would have implications for our corporate ghyll scrambling session due to take place the following morning although we ran that with success as you'll see if you follow the link.

Photos three & four are taken from two evening sessions Iain was asked to run by the same provider back in Stickle Ghyll again during Tuesday & Wednesday the following week.

These young people from Bungay High School in Suffolk were on a geography field studies trip to learn about Glaciation and hydrology/erosion etc and the group on the
second evening had first hand experience of the power & action
of a mountain stream approaching flood levels.

The two photos here were taken on the Tuesday evening. Wednesday evening was so wet & dark due to the cloud that Iain didn't bother taking the camera along.

Checking water levels on the wednesday left us to conclude that Stickle ghyll was a goer - just! However, minutes after our assessment had taken place we had another cloudburst which lasted half and hour. By the time we got the group into Stickle Ghyll for their ghyll scrambling session, water levels were rising!

What followed was an interesting session in which Iain & his assistant had to improvise - using other sections of the ghyll and avoiding other sections that we would normally use. The students were given the opportunity to experience the power of fast flowing water and had to work together to make progress. It was certainly a full on experience but everyone still had a great time and were kept - most importantly of all - safe. Photos from the Bungay High School sessions and those with the previous weeks primary groups can all be viewed here.

If you would like to book your own ghyll scrambling session in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here. Our experienced staff team are adept at being able to improvise and yet still provide you with a worthwhile & value for money ghyll scrambling session no matter how wet the weather; and remember - ghyll scrambling & canyoning are great activities that you can still do when it is too wet in The Lake District to do anything else! We hope you'll join us on a session soon.

Friday 6 July 2012

Ghyll scrambling courses in The Lake District. Friday June 29th 2012.

It's been a little while since we've posted anything up on the blog but that doesn't mean we've not been busy at Kendal Mountaineering Services.

The latter part of June has been abnormally wet - so much so that offering suitable venues for our ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions has proved interesting at times. However, we are all about being adaptable; and having a good local knowledge of all the available ghyll scrambling & canyoning venues makes all the difference between giving customers an average day out or the great session that you really want!

Photo one shows our group from Friday 29th June in Stickle Ghyll in Langdale. The party had come for a day out from Manchester and were looking for  an adrenalin & action packed session. They all work for a company specialising in PPI claims and make a point of getting out once a month to have fun in some shape or form. Previous days out have included doing things such as go-karting, whitewater rafting & snowboarding!

Photo two shows the team really getting stuck into the wet stuff in Stickle Ghyll.

The session had been booked by Jack (orange bouyancy aid) at the start of the week and originally, the plan had been to take the team into Church Beck to do our ususal ghyll scrambling & canyoning session there.

However, it had rained so much the day before that Iain had concerns about water levels. Scott who assisted Iain on this day went and checked out Church Beck in the morning and it was found to be way too high to be safe for our planned session.

Iain made sure that the group was aware of the situation early on and arranged to meet them on the Friday morning en route for Ambleside. It seemed pointless sending them to Coniston knowing we were going to have to go elsewhere and it was looking like our alternative ghyll scrambling & canyoning venue (see previous post) was going to have to be the place.

However, driving into Langdale, Iain noticed that Stickle ghyll was not as high as it might have been and thought that it might work for this group of adults.

So, what started out as a compromise due to the weather turned into another great session for our customers and everyone thoroughly enjoyed wading upstream in the powerful flow, climbing up waterfalls and swiming through pools. Jacks expression in photo three says it all!
The final shot in this blog post shows the team at the foot of the final fall in Stickle Ghyll. It had been a truly "full on" session and they had all had to work hard together to look after & help each other throughout the entire time.

The level of water had made this ghyll scrambling session a real challenge and Iain & Scott had thrown on various extras along the way to make it as exciting as it could have been.

By now, people were starting to get tired cold & despite the equipment we provided - so it was as well that we were finishing here - not everyone elected to climb the final waterfall.

The feedback that we got was that the session had been excellent despite it being an alternative and that it was one of the most exciting things they had ever done. Other photographs taken during this session can be viewed here.

Our ghyll scrambling & canyoning sessions are ideal for a corporate activity day, stag or hen event or just as a way of adding some outdoor excitement to your weekend away in The Lake District. Remember - if the weather is wet this is one thing that you can still do! To book your ghyll scrambling or canyoning session with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here. We look forward to working with you.