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.

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