Monday 1 April 2013

Easter Bank Holiday in The Lake District

Easter weekend has been sunny & cold for us as it will have been for everyone else who visited The Lake District over the holiday period. It is undoubtedly good that the weather is dry but it would be nice if it were a little warmer as it limits the type of outdoor activities people are able to do.

At Kendal Mountaineering Services we had no bookings for the Easter Weekend but we did have friends Charlotte & Stuart visiting from the south East and they were keen to get out and try a few of the outdoor activities that we offer in the area.

Taken on Saturday, photo one Shows Stuart, Charlotte, Kirstin & Iain on top of Helvellyn. At 3118 feet, Helvellyn is the Lake Districts third highest 3000 foot peak (we only have four 3000 footers in The Lake District) and is one of Iain's favourite mountains. We ascended from Greenside Mines via Red Tarn & Swirral Edge and quickly found ourselves in amongst a lot of snow - mainly remnants of last weekends snowy spell which didn't affect us in Kendal but caused a great many problems elsewhere in The Lake District. Some step kicking was required on Swirral Edge in order to keep the rest of our party safe on what was the hardest part of our route up the mountain, but otherwise the climb was pretty easy and very pleasant.

Photo two shows the crest of Helvellyn above Brown Cove and beyond - the ridge of Swirral Edge connecting to the peak of Catstycam. Whilst cornices are undoubtedly things of beauty they are also a dangerous hazard as they often hide cliffs & steep slopes below. Helvellyns cornices have, in the past, resulted in many rescues having to be made  after unwary hillwalkers & mountaineers have fallen through them when trying to view Brown Cove & Red Tarn below resulting in falls and slides of up to 1000 feet.

Fortunately today the weather was so good that you couldn't miss the cornices which were also frozen solid and very stable. People were climbing many of the gully lines on Red Tarn face and also on Browncove Crags. Conditions are currently good in The Lake District for Winter Climbing and learning Winter Skills and we are available to provide you with either of these courses so give us a call to book your day out!

Whilst the weather is currently too cold for Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning courses in The Lake District, caving is something that can be done in relative comfort and Charlotte had never experienced the delights that going underground in The Yorkshire Dales National Park has to offer. So on Sunday, we all went to Long Churns cave system.

As can be seen in photo three - the Yorkshire Dales National Park got it's own share of the snow last weekend and the guys at Inglesport had already warned us to see snow in Middle Entrance at Long Churns. Iain had never seen the entrance looking like this with a cornice drooping down into the cave entrance. People might wonder as to the wisdom of Stuart, Charlotte & Kirstin standing right under half a tonne of hanging snow but it was solid neve and quite safe although a danger to anyone who might stand on it from above.

Iain took the three on his usual underground circuit in Long Churns heading first for the lower part of the cave system via Double Shuffle & Plank Pools to the place where daylight can be seen entering from Alum Pot.

En route, Iain also offered the three the chance to step up to the challenge offered by the bedding plane crawl that is The Cheese Press. In photo four Charlotte appears on the other side of The Cheese Press having found it challenging, but a great experience.
After visiting the lower part of the Long Churns Cave system, we retured to sunlight via Diccan Entrance and then returned via Middle Entrance to visit Cross Passage (or Babtistry Crawl as it also known) before heading upstream in Upper Long Churns to return to daylight via Doctor Bannister's Washbasin (photo five) Kirstin & Stuart had both been caving before but it was a new experience for Charlotte who had been unsure what to expect but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

If you would like to try out caving for yourself then our introductory caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are an ideal way to find out what caving is all about and for as little as £45 per person you get a four hour session with a qualified  Cave Leader and all the equipment that the people in these photos are wearing included in the price. So, give us a call to book your session.

At the moment, it is looking like our next post will be about a Stag Event in The Lake District we will be running for Phil Brooker next weekend. Currently, the party are booked to try out one of our fab Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions followed by some abseiling. However, if the cold snap continues as forecast to then we may have to encourage them to try an alternative that doesn't involve total immersion! Other photographs from our Easter weekend adventures can be viewed here.

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