Thursday 30 May 2013

Bespoke Mountain Navigation Skills Training day Courses in The Lake District. May 29th 2013.

Lake District map reading & navigation courses for beginners.
Even before Iain ran the Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course of May 25th & 26th, he knew that he would be running an additional bespoke Mountain Navigation Skills Training Day for Sally Gallo and her family & friends on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Gallo family & their long standing friends Richard & Nicky Foxall together with their children regularly visit the Lake District to go hillwalking. Sally wanted to learn the the skills to be able to estimate the length of time it would take to do a planned walk in the mountains - having had some rather longer than expected days out in the past.

Having fun on a Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District.
Whilst we all met on Monday, after the fabulous bank holiday weekend weather, the weather was most definitely not good. The forecast rain arrived within a hour of us starting our day making conditions c/w low temperatures untenable for a full day out with young children. We wisely decided to call time at midday and get together again later in the week when the weather had improved.

The weather did so yesterday, so we all met up again in the morning to finish off the family's one day Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course.

Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses in North West England.

All three photos were taken yesterday where, whilst there was a strong easterly breeze, at least it was dry. The parents did their best to learn additional navigation skills whilst the children played - and they certainly had a great time!

During our one day bespoke Lake District map reading & Navigation Skills Training Course, we covered everything from the basics - setting the map through pacings & tick off features right through to walking on a bearing using a combination of pacings, timings (using Naithsmiths Rule) and reading the map to have an idea of what the ground ought to be doing according to contour features & lines.

Some of the children also enjoyed getting involved with the skills of finding grid references, measuring distance and taking bearings as well as working out timings through the use of Naismiths Rule.

Iain reckons that between all of them, this group now have a much better idea of map reading, route finding and route planning that will no doubt help them with their future forays into the Lake District Mountains. You can book your own bespoke Navigation Skills training course with us here at Kendal Mountaineering Services any time you choose by contacting us here. Check our upcoming courses section for our next scheduled Lake District Navigation Skills Training course for beginners. Good reading material to help you prepare for such a course can be found here.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Mountain Navigation Skills Training weekend in The Lake District.May 25th & 26th 2013.

Lake District map reading & navigation Skills training courses.
During the last Bank Holiday weekend, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services ran one of our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.

These courses are designed to improve your map reading skills and are designed to be able to help you to accurately interpret features on a map, to be able to accuately navigate from one location to another and to be able to identify features from around you on to a known location on the map.
Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.
 Iain was joined by Gary Taylor & his sons  Jamie (left) and Peter (right) in photo two.

Day one of the course was spent on Green Quarter Fell near Staveley going right back to basics by first learning how to orientate the map. We followed this by working out how to measure distance on the various maps scales and then being able to pace measured distances on the ground.

Using first a road and then a bridleway, we "handrailed" on to Green Quarter Fell identifying tickoff features en route which allowed us to accurately pinpoint our location at all times. Eventually, after learning about grid references and attack points we were to spend the rest of the afternoon navigating from grid reference to grid reference on the map with the guys taking and then walking on a compass bearing as well as pacing for accuracy. On a number of occasions, we also had to "box" around obstacles on our bearings - so on day one, the guys covered a considerable amount the of map reading & navigation skills syllabus.

Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses in North West Engand.
During day two of our Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses, we always go to a different part of the area and try to go higher to an area of fewer man made features if we can.

Parking further up the Kentmere Valley allowed us to get on to the ridge leading up to Kentmere Pike via Shipman Knotts and photo three sees the guys with the summit of Shipman Knots just behind them.

One again, we had followed a linear feature - this time a wall along this ridge but using a variety of attack points and features along the way to allow us to be able to pinpoint our location. Today, Iain had introduced the skill of using the compass to be able to identify a visible feature from a known location on the map - not an easy thing to do and particularly when something you are looking for is off the 1:25'000 map but on the 1:50'000 map instead! However, on almost every occasion Gary, Peter & Jamie were able to accurately & rapidly identify visible features at times from quite a long way away.

Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses.
We finished our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course by navigating on to the summit of Kentmere Pike via a wall/fence junction and a spring on an area of open, featureless hillside.

Having accurately navigated to the spring using a combination of pacing & walking on a bearing, our location is being checked (in photo four) by taking a bearing down the stream issuing from the spring to check our accuracy.

Having taken a "line of sight" bearing and then deducting 2 degrees (mag to grid - get rid) the compass was then aligned to grid north on the map and - did point down the line of our stream! With that varification, plus having walked almost spot on to the spring from our last grid reference. We could be satisfied that we had, indeed, reached the place we were looking for.

The compass being used on this occasion was a Silva Type 4 Expedition which was what we recommend for this course.

One final leg saw us at the trig point on Kentmere Pike along with everyone else who was enjoying the fabulous bank holiday weather and at this point Gary, Peter & Jamie were happy to call it a day and return to the vehicle - although Iain did make them find the route down.

Gary, Peter & Jamie were very satisfied with all of the new skills they learnt during their Lake District Map Reading Skills Course with Iain whose advice to them would be to get out & use their news skills as soon as possible. Other photos taken during this course can be viewed here.

Our next Mountain Navigation Skills Training course is Scheduled for September but we might just run a few over the summer as well so keep an eye on dates via the website in Upcoming Courses and contact us if you would like to book a place. These courses are fantastic value at only £80 pr person for the weekend course or you can contact us at any time to book your own bespoke Mountain Navigation Skill Training Course in The Lake District. We look forward to working with you.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions. Church Beck, Coniston. May 23rd 2013.

Corporate Training Events in The Lake District.
One week after their last Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session, Nucleargraduates returned yet again for another wet teambuilding session with us in Church Beck at Coniston.

This time we had a group of eight graduate apprentices who were attending this session as part of their welcome workshop - having successfully applied to become part of the Nucleargraduates two year apprentice scheme.
Corporate Training Events in North West England.
All of these people have either completed or are in the process of completing a masters degree in subjects such as chemical engineering or engineering and will be undertaking their apprentice-ships at Nucleargraduates various partner organisations. These include Magnox, The Nuclear Decomissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and Rolls Royce to name a few.

Kendal Mountaineering Services are now in their third year of providing Lake District Based Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions to Nucleargraduates as an integral part of their welcome workshops.

Lake District Ghyll Scrambing Sessions with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Our role in these events is to provide a challenging environment where these people are put together in a situation which is physically demanding and challenging and where teamwork on the part of the group is essential if everyone is to successfully complete the session.

The purpose is to provide an environment where participants have to work together giving and receiving support from each other, learning to trust and encourage one another and developing rapport along the way.

Not only is our role in these sessions to facilitate teamwork and personal development but also ensure participants safety and comfort. With these two important considerations in place then participants can start to focus on the task in question and also, importantly, have fun! This is important for any learning to take place.
Canyoning Sessions in North West England.
The Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session we ran on this occasion for Nucleargraduates was indeed challenging - being slightly chillier than the previous session due to the fickle May weather. Indeed, prior to starting, we could see fresh snow falling on the summit of the nearby Old Man of Coniston.

Immersing ones-self in a mountain stream when snow is falling on nearby summits would probably seem mad to most people but when the weather is hot & sunny it can be a most invigorating & exciting experience.

The graduate apprentices on this occasion had to work hard to look after & encourage each other and the thought of doing the "top jumps" (behind the group in photo four) was undoubtedly a real personal challenge for all members of this group who had already undergone several hours of challenging wetness.

Anyway, they all did it and afterwards Iain distributed handwarmers which many of the group can be seen holding here. Good effort guys! The group went on to celebrate their achievements by having a night out in nearby Kendal which included dining at the popular Deja Vu Restaurant, live music at Bootleggers bar and a finale in a nightclub before finishing the welcome workshop the following day.

Other photos taken during this Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session can be viewed here and if you would like to book a session for your Corporate Event, Stag or Hen Event or family day out in The Lake District then contact us here.

We look forward to working with you.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Stag Events in The Lake District. May 18th 2013

Stag Events in North West England.
After being in Church Beck at Coniston a few days previously with our corporate clients Nucleargraduates, Kendal Mountaineering Services were back again - this time with Tom Jowitts Stag party.

Tom had booked one of our Stag Events in The Lake District some months previously. Initially, the stag party had wanted to try a half day our our popular Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions followed by a half day of Rock Climbing & Abseiling in The Lake District. Photo one shows all 15 lads with, of course, the stag - Lyndon resplendent in pink skirt!

Stag Events in The Lake District.
On the day that the stag event had been booked for the weather was looking poor. Heavy rain was forecast for the day, so a decision was made a few days earlier to change the programme to include some Canadian Canoeing on a Lake District Lake instead of the climbing and abseiling.

This was a good plan as it was raining really heavily when we arrived at Coniston to run the stag event.

Introductory Canadian Canoeing Sessions in The Lake District.The guys had also asked for a later start than our usual 09:00 as they were planning to hit the town on Friday night. In any case, it was almost midday
on Saturday before all of the stag party arrived with us.

The heavy rain was causing us some concern as Church Beck was starting to rise, so the plan was switched slightly again from Canoeing first to Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning. However, we needn't have worried as almost as soon as we started the session the rain stopped and whilst water levels in the gorge were up they were fine for this bunch of keen & fit lads (photo two).

After two hours of Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning we got out, grabbed a bite to eat and then went for a Canadian Canoeing session on nearby Coniston Water (photo three).

Lake District based Stag Events with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
The final photo from this Stag Event in The Lake District shows Lyndon (once again in his pink skirt) just as it was all about to go wrong!

Up to this point we had played a number of team games on the water and the lads had thoroughly enjoyed these. Following that we set off on a bit of a canoe journey followed by a canoe raft & swap around but when Lyndon decided to change position the raft was broken up - making all of the boats rather unstable - done deliberately to get Lyndon in the drink!

Following this, Iain had several canoes to empty and half a dozen lads to get back into boats and then it was time to pack up.

Tom, Lyndon and the rest of the stag party throughly enjoyed their Stag Event in The Lake District with us and went on to have an equally good second night out in Kendal - we think! The rest of the photos taken during this Stag Event can be viewed here.

If you are thinking about organising a Stag Event for one of your mates then let us put together a package of activities together for you to make for a memorable occasion in The Lake District. Prices can be as low as £30 per person for a half day or £50 per person for a full day depending on group size. Contact us here to discuss how we can help.

Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions. May 16th 2013.

Corporate Team Building Events in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Last Thursday, Kendal Mountaineering Services ran another ghyll scrambling & canyoning session in The Lake District for returning clients Nucleargraduates who were running yet another welcome workshop in the area for new graduate recruits joining the Nucleargraduates Apprentice Scheme.

Photo one shows our team in Church Beck at Coniston where we run most of our Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions.

Outdoor Development Training Courses in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
All of those attending the Nucleargraduates welcome workshops are meeting for the first time and will be spending the next two years working for the various partner organisations within the Nucleargraduates Scheme.

We were first approached two years ago to see if our Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions in The Lake District could be used to enhance the welcome workshops by adding an element which would promote teamwork, trust, support, communication within the new recruits - which of course it can & does. In photo two - an example of teamwork can be seen here as the rest of the team  helps someone to climb a waterfall of which there are many in Church Beck.

Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District with Kendal Mountaineering Services.

All of our Church Beck Ghyll sessions involve a  canyoning descent of part of the gorge which follows the ghyll scrambling (also known as gorge walking) ascent and this takes place in the upper part of the ghyll.

In photo three, one our team is lowered down the first waterfall on the canyoning descent. The distance is not far in to the pool below but for many the challenge of being lowered down a waterfall not really being sure what is below is quite something!

There were eight recruits and two staff today, so it took Iain a while to lower everyone down here.

Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in North West England with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Photo four shows the team at the foot of the final "chockstone pitch" where we took our team photo before leaving the gorge and finishing the session. After the previous photo, we had descended 300m of gorge, abseiled another two waterfalls and jumped into four deep pools. Everyone had  received a thorough soaking and felt thoroughly exhilarated after their Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session.

The day had turned out to be better than forecast - less rain (well - none actually!) and warmer temperatures than forecast making this teambuilding session for the group a pleasant & exciting experience. No doubt they will be talking about it for some time to come!

To book your Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session with us contact us here. Prices can be as little as £30 per person for a half day (four hour) session and we can provide these sessions for a minimum of two persons.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Testing rugged waterproof & shockproof cameras. Stickle Ghyll, Langdale. May 11th 2013.

Gorge walking session in The Lake District. Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Yesterday, we were delighted to run one of our Lake District Ghyll Scrambling sessions for members of the WEX Photographic staff team who had come to The Lake District for the weekend wanting to use one of our Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning sessions as a test bed for their forthcoming review of Outdoor Digital Cameras.

The team had travelled all the way from Norwich to conduct this test and had all manner of waterproof & shockproof Digital Cameras - as can be seen in photo one.
Ghyll Scrambling in North West England with Kendal Mountaineering Services.
Unfortunately, it had been an extremely wet start to the day and as it turned out, our preferred venue - Church Beck at Coniston was turning into a raging torrent and therefore not an ideal venue to conduct a camera test of any sort.

Fortunately, the team were still en route for The Lake District when Iain called them to advise of a change of venue and there are a few venues in Langdale where we can run our Ghyll Scrambling sessions in The Lake District when Church Beck gets too big.

Having been rerouted to the Sticklebarn Tavern in Langdale, Iain & Scott got the group kitted up and then off we headed in to Stickle Ghyll which was high, but challenging rather than being "over the top". Photo two shows one of the party doing the lower climb in the ghyll which was actually a small waterfall on this occasion. Challenging stuff indeed!

Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District. Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Photo three shows Daniel Hahn having some fun in the Stickle Ghyll Jacuzzi - as you can see here - there was plenty of water to provide lots of challenging fun and as tough a conditions as any of the group test cameras were likely to find anywhere!

There were a few odd sections that we had to miss out where there was just too much fast flowing water. When running any Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session, safety of all concerned has to be paramount followed by comfort which is why we provide the high standard of equipment that we do. It is only when you have these first two concerns properly addressed can people then start to enjoy themselves fully.

Stickle Ghyll was, on this day, a "full on" experience - as you'll see if you look through the photographs taken with our own waterproof & shockproof camera here.

Gorge walking sessions in North West England. Kendal Mountaineering services.
At this point we were only half way through our Lake District Ghyll Scrambling session and the cameras were getting a proper drubbing and ducking. Most people had the test cameras attached to their bouyancy aids with karabiners allowing for security but quick release for photographs. Fortunately no-one dropped a camera - had they done so today then it would have likely disappeared for good!

As can be seen in the background in photo four, the weather had cleared up and our afternoon as nice & sunny and largely rain free - if not a little cold. However, the Wex Photographic team were thoroughly enjoying themselves as you can see here.
Lake District Ghyll Scrambling Sessions with Kendal Mountaineering Services. Shortly after photo four was taken Scott made off ahead to set up the ropework for the second & larger waterfall climb in Stickle Ghyll and in photo five a member of our party can be seen approaching Scott at the top of the fall whilst another team member takes a photograph.

WEX Photographic subsequently posted a report  about this group test of digital waterproof & shockproof cameras and you can read it here. It will certainly give you a very good idea what to look for when choosing your own tough camera for outdoor use in any conditions.

Our own camera of choice at present is the Panasonic Lumix DMC FT2 with which all of our own photos have been taken since February 2011. This camera is still going strong and we are sure you will agree, takes excellent photos. This model has already been superseded by newer versions and no doubt we'll need to replace ours at some point in the future.

Immediately after completing this waterfall climb we returned to the National Trust car park at The New Dungeon Ghyll where everyone got changed and then headed in to the Sticklebarn Tavern for a well deserved hot drink. The WEX team seemed well pleased with their Lake District Ghyll Scrambling session and we hope that it provided them with the test bed they needed - it was certainly a tough session for any camera!

Thursday 9 May 2013

Stag Events in The Lake District, Church Beck, Sunday, May 5th 2013.

After assisting with the running of a Lake District Hen Event in Borrowdale on Saturday, Iain was out with a group of lads who were staying in The Lake District as part of a stag weekend.

James Fraser had found the Kendal Mountaineering Services website early in the year and had booked a Lake District ghyll scrambling session with us way back in January.

Iain took the party to Church Beck at Coniston where we always combine any Ghyll Scrambling Sessions with a Canyoning Session as well.

Sunday was a different day from Saturday in so much that it was cloudy, cold & wet - not a great combination for any Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session!

Still, the lads made up for the miserable weather with bags of enthusiasm. Photo one shows us at the Chockstone Pitch in Church Beck - little over an hour later, we would be sliding down the rock behind the lads into the deep pool below.

Taken about ten minutes after photo one, photo two shows the guys all kitted up - ready for the Canyoning Descent of Church Beck.

As can be seen, everyone is well equipped to provide maximum comfort and protection with each individual wearing a wetsuit, walking boots, a cagoule (jacket) bouyancy aid, helmet & harness - all provided as part of the fee for the four hour session - in this case £40 per person. This might sound a lot - but look what you get and we also know that we offer a longer ghyll scrambling session than many of our competitors - giving you the opportunity to do absolutely everything that there is to be done in this fantastic gorge.

Many other providers miss out the top section of Church Beck above Miners Bridge, but here there are two big waterfalls and two deep pools that are worth the visit.

Photo three sees one of James Stag party being lowered down the first waterfall nin to the first pool - if you haven't already had a thorough soaking you'll get one here!

Being lowered down this fall you get a real sense of being right in the middle of falling water whilst still securely attached to a rope, we won't hang about lowering you down here though.

Below this point, we pypass the next fall below due to a big rock being right at it's base in the pool; although the pool is still deep enough to get a thorough ducking! Then it is on the the next absiel lower at the Miners Bridge Fall.

Below Miners Bridge Fall, the gorge narrows to a slot where there are three falls. At the first, we lower you part way on a rope before you jump the rest of the distance in to the pool. The next fall has another rock at its foot  so we climb down the slide of here and swim to the top of the fall seen in photo one. This final fall sees us slide down the middle of the slab in to the pool below in a fashion that has earned it the name of "the coffin slide". A truly exhilarating experience!

After that, we climb out of the ghyll and that is the end of your Lake District Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning session although there is still a 10 minute walkback to the cars to de-kit. Many of our stag groups choose to end their session with a pint at The Black Bull Inn & Hotel just down the road. Bluebird Bitter is Iain's favourite tipple.

Other photographs from James Frasers Stag Do in The Lake District can be viewed here and if you would like to discuss booking your own Stag Do in The Lake District with us, then contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Lake District Navigation skills training course. April 28th & 28th 2013.

Last weekend, Kendal Mountaineering Services ran their first Lake District Mountain Navigation skills training course of the season.

This map reading & navigation skills training course was fully subscribed with 10 persons attending from around the country - some from as far away as Sussex & Surrey.

Day one started with our looking at the importance of  Map Orientation, tick off features and measuring distance/pacing distance. After lunch we moved on to the skill of taking a bearing from map to ground and photo one sees our party having successfully navigated to a small pool of water on relatively featureless terrain. As can be seen it was a lovely sunny day although it had started off with snow on the fells in the background and a chill northerly breeze.

Photo two shows our participants preparing to find the next location on the map. Iain had presented grid references to the group over lunch and they were now all able to locate a point using a 6 figure grid reference.

In this photo everyone is working out the bearing & distance to the next grid reference as part of our map reading & navigation skills training progression.

The nice thing about this particular Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course was that everyone had come in pairs wanting to learn map reading & navigation skills so that they can subsequently go out and enjoy walking - without getting lost! Working in pairs is a good thing as it gives people the opportunity interact and share information & knowledge and you nearly always find that some people will pick up an aspect of skills training better than  others. In this group, as well as Iain coaching Navigation & Map Reading Skills overall, people within each pair could coach each other too - it worked really well!

Day one of our Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course finished at 5pm with everyone having progressed through Map Orientation, tick off features, measuring & pacing distance, Grid References through to walking on a bearing using a compass.

Two of our party - Tom & Phil had also booked in to a night navigation session with Iain and photo three sees the pair at their first grid reference - the trig point on Brunt Knott.

We went on to look for a number of landform features and a stream junction before heading back for a quick pint at the Eagle & Child in Staveley. The night navigation session lasted around 3 hours and fortunately for the pair, the weather was clear & dry with only a light northly breeze - you could even make out Blackpool Tower away to the south.

Night navigation is harder than the daylight option. On this session, visibility was good and even only by the light of headtorch one could see several hundred metres - imagine what it is like in cloud! During night navigation, the sense of sight is greatly reduced meaning that you have to be spot on with your pacings and walking on a bearing. Tom & Phil did very well for their first go at this skill which is not an easy thing to achieve.

The forecast for Sunday was vastly different from Saturday with a cold westerly wind blowing at up to 55mph on the summits, low cloud and rain with snow at higher levels. It certainly wasn't a day for going up high as we normally do on day two.

Any session that we run has to be, first & foremost, safe and secondly comfortable before any learning will take place. A session like that would not have been possible higher up so, Iain chose to take the team back into the same area as had been used the previous day (Green Quarter Fell, Kentmere) although this time we used a different route - going in from the north rather than the south.

Photo four sees the group looking a little soggy but pleased at having located a rather insignificant stream junction on the map. The whole day was spent travelling from one grid reference to another looking for features that were not always obvious.

Our final photo of our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The lake District sees us down to a group of four after another pair had departed to head for home early (one pair had decided they were happy not to attend day two the previous day and another pair had to drop out).

Having spent the day navigating around Green Quarter Fell, we sat down here for a final break and discussed Nainsmiths Rule. Naismith reckoned that people could walk at 3km/hr in the mountains (Iain reckons it's nearer five for most fit hillgoers) and that 1 minute for every 10m contour needed to be added for every contour line crossed in ascent of descent. We spent 15 minutes working out timings between a number of grid references on that basis before walking the short distance back to the cars and closing the course. All photos taken during the weekend can be viewed here.

We have a number of these Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses taking place over the year and details can be found here. The cost is only £80 for the weekend course per person and inclides the provision of laminated maps. The compass we reccommend as the industry standard is the Silva Type 4 Expedition which has everything you need to get the most out of your map reading & Navigation Skills Training Course. These courses are ideal for anyone considering their Summer Mountain Walking Leader Assessment or as a Navigation Skills refrsher course prior to re-assessment.

The next Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District takes place during the weekend of May 25th & 26th and there are currently five places available. Contact us here to book your place.