Thursday 26 September 2013

Scrambling in The Lake District, September 20th 2013.

After running a one day Lake District Climbing Course for Natasha Tyler and Jason, Iain was back out in Langdale the following day for another one day Skills Training Course with Elena & Alex from London.

The pair were visiting the area for the weekend and wanted to gain more confidence in moving on scrambling grade terrain having done many trips in to mountainous areas in recent time.

For our one day Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District, we started out by practicing the technique of "spotting", This is where two people move together on easy grade scrambling ground, supporting each other by pressing on to feet, backs & bums (photo one) to prevent a slip or fall. The more confident & competent scrambler generally takes up the rear.
However, as one moves up the grades the angle of the rock gets steeper and a point is reached where spotting is no longer safe. As a rule of thumb, when a slip could turn in to something more serious, then one should get the rope out and use that! True, the use of a rope slows up proceedings, but if you want to stay alive longer, then it is a worthy consideration!

Most ropes used for scrambling are around 10.2mm in diameter and up to 50m in length - however you won't need that much rope for moving together on graded scrambling ground - unless you have to climb (pitch) a section.

Iain short roped the pair up and down the buttress being used for their Scrambling Skills Training Course so that they could experience and see what is required when short roping & moving together before letting the pair have a go for themselves. In photo two, both have tied on to the rope and  Alex has taken chest coils to shorten the rope. Having locked off his chest coils Elena was  keen to see if she could strangle him - fortunately Alex had locked off his coils properly!

In photo three, the pair are looking at the use of belays as a means to protect each other whilst moving up or down a section where a slip could have serious consequences.

Belays fall into three categories - an Indirect or body belay used to protect a second on relatively easy ground, Semi Direct - almost always used in climbing where a leader attaches to the rock with anchors and belays from their climbing harness or Direct belays where the rock is used directly to protect a second as in photo three.

In photo three, Alex is using a rock spike (well, the remains of it anyway after Iain had kicked it!) and is taking in the rope around it to safeguard Elena. ANY Direct belay must be checked to ensure it's integrity so must be pulled/pushed/kicked to ensure it is solid - if it isn't, don't use it!

Following our skills training session on the Lower Buttress of Tarn Crag, Langdale. Iain decided to take the pair to a route called The Spur on the south west side of of that hill. Described in the Cicerone Lake District Scrambles South Guide as grade 2, the route follows the line of a rocky rib before finishing off  by ascending two rock bands to the summit.

Exposure is reasonable starting with a tricky traverse rightwards across, on what was on this occasion a damp slab. Above this, a grassy gully is ascended to a block belay and then the route climbs up rock leftwards (photo four) to regain the crest of the rib and grassy slopes before reaching the rock bands.

Elena & Alex had decided that they would prefer to be guided by Iain on The Spur considering that for them, at this stage, grade 2 was perhaps just a step too far for them to lead. For Iain, as a Mountaineering Instructor, it was a great opportunity to be able to guide and with his guidance and support, the pair enjoyed this rather damp scramble in the mist and drizzle which never left us all day.

Scrambling is great fun and a great way to get to the top of a mountain if you want some exilaration and some interest. Book a day out with us to have a great experience.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Rock Climbing Courses in The Lake District. Friday 20th 2013.

Natasha  Tyler booked a one day Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District with us for herself and boyfriend Jason.

The pair were on holiday in the area from Essex and enjoy various outdoor pursuits having snowboarded around the globe amongst other things! During their visit to the Lake District on this occasion they had enjoyed Mountain Biking and Wake Boarding and had attempted to climb Scafell Pike although they had given up due to low cloud & rain. Certainly - prior to today, the weather had not been ideal for rock climbing, having been wet since the previous Sunday.

Despite the view of wet rock in photo one, after a slightly damp start the day improved. Both wanted to learn the skills of rock climbing and here Iain had coached Jason as far as the first stance on the route and then returned to the foot of the climb to help Natasha extricate a well placed anchor.

Photo two sees Natasha two pitches up at the second stance on this popular Lake District climbing route - having built a belay consisting of two anchors equalised to a central attachment point using a sling and screwgate karabiners.

In the photo, Jason is just above the crux (the hardest part of the climb) and is moving towards Natasha who is keeping him on a tight rope.

The method of using slings to attach to anchors should only be employed if you are leading all of the pitches on a rock climb or, as a Mountaineering Instructor, are guiding clients (in effect, again, - doing all of the leading!)

Best practice indicates that where a pair of climbers are alternately leading each pitch then one should "tie in" at stances using the climbing rope. Alternate leading also negates the need to reflake the climbing rope at stances.

In photo three, Natasha, now on a different climb, demonstrates attaching to anchors using the climbing rope.

Her climbing rope is attached to both anchors using screwgate karabiners and she is independently attached to each anchor with a loop of rope that is secured to her rope tie in loop with a knot called a Clove Hitch via an HMS (pear shaped) karabiner.

The use of this method allows for easy equalisation (loading of both anchors which is important to reduce shock loading on the climbing system. A shock load occurs when a fall (or load ie falling climber) is arrested (stopped) by a belayer (such as Natasha in this photo). A shock load can occur at any time when there is slack in the climbing system and a fall or slip takes place, the shock load occurring when the fall or slip is arrested. Minimising any slack in the system from the anchor system right through the belay to the climber reduces shock loading. The only time it cannot be avoided  is when a lead climber takes a fall on to a running belay (runner).

The final photo from this post about a one day climbing course in The Lake District sees Natasha protecting Jason as he abseils towards her from the second stance of our second climbing route.

The scenario was that for whatever reason, we had felt it necessary to arrange an abseil retreat from the route and on this occasion, there was a handy tree to help facilitate this.

Jason had climbed pitch two of the route and created an anchor consisting of a sling around the tree from which he belayed Natasha. When Natasha arrived at the stance, both clipped in to the sling using cowstails  (a sling larksfooted through the abseil loop on the harness and attached to the anchor with a screwgate karabiner). This allowed them to be protected whilst they untied from the climbing rope, arranged it's mid point around the tree and threw either side down the crag - conveniently reaching the base!

The pair then attached themselves to both sides of the climbing rope with their belay plates extended away from their harnesses with another sling each and then abseiled to the base. Iain, going first, demonstrated a prussik to protect against losing control during abseiling and then protected Natasha by holding the "dead" rope below her - ready to pull it tight if she let go and thus preventing a fall.

The pair enjoyed their Rock Climbing Course in The Lake District with Iain and hope to return to the area again to have another go at outdoor climbing - so we may see them again! To book your guided climbing session or Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in the Lake District - contact us here.

Bespoke Navigation & Map Reading Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. Saturday 14th September 2013.

Christine Thornton contacted Iain at Kendal Mountaineering services with a view to improving her map reading & Navigation Skills in order that both herself and her friend Val could enjoy walking in the mountains of The Lake District with increased confidence in their ability to know where they are and where they are going walking at all times.

The pair asked for a one day Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District, so Iain met them at Staveley and took them to Green Quarter Fell for their one day course.

We started off by orientating the map, measuring & pacing distance and looking for "tick off" features along our route (photo one) in order to get the pair reading off the map and on to the ground.

We spent the next few hours progressing along a bridleway identifying features on the map and locating them along our route.

Christine & Val's confidence rapidly improved as did their map reading skills. Eventually, after a bit of coaching, the pair were also able to find a location on the map with a six or eight figure grid reference.

This progression led us on to learning the next skill which was working out a compass bearing and then being able to walk on that bearing and pace to be able to find such insignificant features as the small pool of water in photo two.

There is no reason why any of our Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District should not have a "natural history"  twist to them and indeed - Iain has spent most of his life in The Lake District and knows what can be found where.

With a skill such as this you should find any Map Reading & Navigation Course with us an enjoyable and informative experience - and not just about map reading! In photo three Iain fished a White Clawed Crayfish (the native UK variety) out of a very small stream to show the pair who were delighted.

Iain also knows a great deal about the history of the area so if you want to have an interesting day in the mountains - come out with us.

If you also would like to learn Map Reading & Navigation Skills and get really good value for money in the process then book on to one of our Autumn Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training weekends here in The Lake District. Priced at only £80 per person for the two day course they really do represent exceptional value for money!

Thursday 19 September 2013

Stag Events in The Lake District. September 7th 2013.

After Iain's morning session in Stickle Ghyll with Eva Browns Hen Party, there was time for a quick bite of lunch and then a short drive to change venues to Church Beck, Coniston and meet Chris Webb and Gav Cowan's Stag Party who were waiting there to try out one of our popular Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District.

Photo one shows the team - actually at the end of the session - all smiles and having throughly enjoyed the session provided by Iain despite the weather!
This afternoons group were a bunch of big strong lads, so Iain's initial concerns about water levels being up in Church Beck weren't going to be a problem (the water level wasn't up much anyway!). They were all keen and enthusiastic despite the continuing wet & cold weather as we set off up into the gorge on the Ghyll Scrambling ascent.

In photo two, Chris - the Stag Event organiser is enjoying one of the gorges many little challenges. This one involves going under a tree trunk in the bed of the gorge and coming out through a waterfall on the other side. Of course, seconds before this shot was taken, there was a lot more water going over Chris's head - thanks to his mates! Stag Events are often places where you really do find out just who your mates are - or not as the case may be!
Photo three is taken in the upper gorge of Church Beck where the lads were lined up to commence the Canyoning Descent.

This starts with a lower down the top waterfall. It is essential to do this by lowering people wearing climbing harnesses using a rope. Clients get connected to the rope and then leave the pool in the photo on their hands & knees moving backwards to get down the wet & slippery slab to the top of the waterfall before being lowered in a controlled fashion by Iain into the pool below.
Following this, we continue by making a short jump into another deep pool  (as seen in the 4th photo from this session). The Canyoning Descent of Church Beck continues after another 150m with yet another lower down a bigger waterfall (we call this the Miners Bridge Fall) and then after another 75m we are on to the roped traverse & lower/jump past the next fall. This leaves a climb down the second but last fall and then the final slide down the Chockstone Pitch fall to where our Canyoning Sessions end.

Today was a busy day for Iain who was wet from 09:30 until 17:00. During the day, he had provided a Hen party with  great morning Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District followed by another fab Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session in a different Lake District venue in the afternoon.

Everyone had enjoyed themselves despite the weather and for Iain, the day was a good job well done.

Our Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions are popular with Stag & Hen Events, Corporate Clients and families & friends alike. Everyone should try it at least once! To book your session - contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Hen Events in The Lake District. Saturday 7th September 2013.

On Saturday 7th September, we kicked off what was be a busy day for Iain with a morning Ghyll Scrambling session organised as part of a Hen Event for bride to be - Eva, by her mate Joanne.

When Iain met the Hen Party at Skelwith Bridge, not only was the weather wet, but it was also unseasonably cold. He was told that the Hen Party wanted something "not too hardcore". On that note, he chose to take the party to Stickle Ghyll in Langdale for their Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District.

Photo one sees the Hen Party with the first wet part of Stickle Ghyll behind them and en route for the final upper part.

What the weather lacked temperature-wise to make any Ghyll Scrambling or Canyoning session in The Lake District a total pleasure today was certainly made up for by our Hen Party's team spirit as they laughed & splashed their way upstream.

We did, as always, make our best to ensure everyone's comfort by providing walking boots, wetsuits, cagoules and bouyancy aids and this contributed largely to people to feeling able and willing to continue with the session despite a low temperature of just 12 degrees.

Interestingly, this had also been a contributory factor when Joanne had chosen to book the  Hen Events Ghyll Scrambling Session with us - other companies were offering the same session for half our price - but with a very poor standard of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in comparison.

Joanne's Hen Party each paid £40 for this 4 hour half day Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District with us but its worth remembering that what with the helmet & harness as well each person in the photograph was wearing around £250 of equipment each! In such a demanding environment, this equipment wears out quickly and needs to be regularly replaced. So, with us, you do get what you pay for!

Our final photo from this Hen Event in The Lake District sees six of Joanne's party of eight at the foot of the final waterfall waiting to climb. Stickle Ghyll saves some of it's most challenging bits to the end and this is definitely one of them.

There are two ways to climb this fall - either immediately up the largely water free rock wall behind the team in this photo; or up the rock rib towards the extreme upper right of the photo - and that was the route Iain chose for this Hen Party.

Everyone managed to climb (apart from the two who chose to give it a miss) and each was then given a handwarmer to hold whilst Iain got the rest of the party up the climb.

At the end, it was cold, the party were cold (hands at least - but a little warmer thanks to Iain's handwarmers) so it was quickly off back down the descent path to de-kit in the toilets next to the Sticklebarn Tavern.

Eva's Hen Party had all thoroughly enjoyed their half day Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District with Iain - despite the weather. All agreed it was worth every penny!

There are still decent conditions around in The Lake District to enjoy Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning this Autumn so if you would like to book a session as part of your Hen Event contact us here. Don't book with the rest - come properly kitted out with the best; and we believe we have good reason to reckon that is us!

Iain's next post is about what he got up to that afternoon with Gav Cowan's Stag Party in Church Beck.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Corporate Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District. 5th September 2013.

Last Thursday, Iain, along with assistant instructor Mark, was running another Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session in Church Beck at Coniston for one of our Corporate Clients - Nucleargraduates.

Nucleargraduates have been using our services since May 2011 when they first contacted us to see if we could provide then with an activity which would be suitable as a team building exercise. Up to that point successful applicants to join the Nucleargraduates Apprenticeship Scheme had been using the GoApe ropes course facility in Grizedale Forest but it was felt that this session wasn't really bringing about the desired result!

As well as being a popular favourite with the general public and Stag & Hen parties, our Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District are ideal for business users wishing to use a session to focus on developing individuals reaction to challenge; and to build on relationships through the use of trust, support and communication.

Church Beck consists of a number of challenges such as this one in photo two which is the top lower in the upper gorge. Participants are lowered on a rope over this fall - getting a thorough soaking in the process and down into the pool below.

For most people joining the Nucleargraduates Apprentice Scheme - getting attached to a rope and then being asked to go backwards down a waterfall in conditions that may be slightly inclement is not something that they would choose to go and do on their day off!

However, the idea of these sessions is that by being impelled into such experience the members of the group will work together and with the support from each other and encouragement, bonds of trust and friendship will be formed which will help these apprentices through their apprenticeships with the various Nucleargraduate sponsors over the next two years.

This process is often known as teambuilding or an icebreaker exercise.
Church Beck has a number of exciting & challenging parts to it. The girl in photo three is being lowered down the next waterfall downstream below Miners Bridge which is higher than the first one in the previous photo. Members of here group can be seen below the fall from where they are able to give support & encouragement to people coming down.

The final section consists of another two waterfalls to jump and slide down (photo four) - true exhilarating & challenging stuff - particularly as once one has left the top waterfall there is no easy way to turn back. However, people always achieve success in this particularly challenging part of the gorge with our support and approach.

So, once again we ran another very successful Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning Session for Nucleargraduates here in The Lake District and we wish the apprentices all the very best with their career in The Nuclear Industry. Hopefully, we will be seeing all of this year recruits again soon as we have also been asked to organise a team building day for all of them this October - watch out for the blog report!

If you would like a bespoke package of activities putting together with a specific development objective in mind for your team or workplace then give us a call. We will be happy to put together an appropriate package for you to ensure that your objectives are met.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District. September 3rd & 4th 2013

The last two posts have been about some of our Lake District Outdoor Activity Sessions. Here people can come along and try out a particular sport - you  be provided with the equipment necessary to enjoy the activity and supervised by our qualified & experienced staff team. The aim - to give you a great session that you'll never forget!

However, we also run skills training courses for those people who want to take up a sport and learn the skills necessary to be able to go enjoy  themselves - ultimately without qualified supervision.

Helen & Donald McDonald were two such people who booked on to a two day Scrambling Skills Course in The Lake District with us.

Scrambling could be described as ground that is harder than walking but easier than Rock Climbing. Scrambles that are Grade 1 are easy angled such as that in photo one where people can make safe progress merely by helping each other up steeper steps using a technique called "spotting" where one holds feet in place or presses into the body or back person in front to prevent them from falling off. Usually the person at the rear will be the more competent scrambler.

As the angle of the rock increases one moves onto scrambling terrain graded at 2 or 3. As soon as there is the "possibility of  a slip turning into something more serious" then one should consider employing the use of a rope.

In photo two, Helen is set up ready to "short rope" Donald who is attached at the other end of the climbing rope. The climbing rope is shortened by taking "chest coils" around the body of the leader. In this photo, Helen has "locked off" the chest coils to ensure that they cannot be pulled tight around her body/neck.

Between the leader and second the leader will also have a "reservoir" of half a dozen or more hand coils that can be paid out or taken in depending on the angle of the ground being traversed. The idea of short roping is that a tight rope can be maintained between the leader and second with the hand coils giving the leader the option to lengthen out or shorten the distance between the them & the second.

In photo three Donald can be seen employing a technique known as an "indirect" or "body" belay. This and other belay techniques are to be used when a braced stance and taking in hand over hand will not suffice to hold a slip on ground that is towards the top end of grade two in category.

Here the leader has adopted a braced stance sitting down with heels dug into the ground and braced against a forward pull. The rope is taken around the body and then taken in as one would with a belay plate. In this case the "live" rope is in Donald's left hand and the "dead" rope in his right. To take the rope in - he pulls in with his left hand and pushes out with his right whilst gripping the rope with both hands. He then slides his left hand back up the live rope whilst not letting go the dead rope with his other hand and grips both ropes together allowing him to slide his hand on the dead rope back to it's starting point by his right hip and is immediately then in the position to take in again! It needs to be added that one generally has a twist of rope around the wrist of the hand holding the dead rope NEVER do this on the live side as a person falling suddenly could injure your wrist!

The final photo from day one of Helen & Donald's Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District is a view straight down the route (Long Crag above Coniston) that we had used throughout the day to cover the scrambling syllabus.

In this photo Donald is using a "direct" belay in this case a large & solid projection of rock around which it is possible to run the rope without the danger of it sliding off the top - indeed this "spike" belay actually has a projection (on the side nearest the camera) that will definitely prevent the rope "coming off" in this instance.

Direct belays such as this are a quick & easy way of safeguarding a second - however, they must be checked for soundness ie not riddled with cracks and actually a solid part of the surrounding rock. They should be kicked, pulled & pushed to check integrity and you must also not have any sharp edges that will cut your rope or sling! Any sort of movement and you need to find or consider another type of belay technique!

Other forms of direct belay include arranging a sling over a spike such as this or threading through a gap between rocks and joining with an HMS (pear shaped karabiner and used in conjuction with an Italian Hitch to safeguard seconds. Also, a well placed Wallnut or Torque nut can be used directly with an HMS Karabiner/Italian Hitch. Do not use camming devices in this manner though.

If you have doubts about your own safety on an exposed stance whilst belaying a second then you are better off arranging two anchors and tying in to them and then belaying using a belay device as in a "semi direct" belay. Semi direct belays are used on grade three routes and rock climbing (moderate & above) when you need to make yourself safe and one direct belay or anchor will not suffice. The leader must stay safe at all times!

The first photo from day two sees Donald leading off up the delightful scramble of Low Water Beck (grade 3). Iain had decided the previous day that with the pairs progress; and the good forecast that their second day should entail getting to the top of a mountain linking scrambles and Low Water Beck can be linked with Brim Fell Rib (grade 2) to make a delightful way of getting to the top of the Old Man of Coniston.

Firstly, Iain handed the pair his copy of RB Evan's Lake District Scrambles South (Cicerone) and asked them to get him to the foot of Low Water Beck and then proceed climbing the route - just as they will have to when they buy their own scrambling guides!

The scramble of Low Water Beck starts off by climbing up into the water course to below the waterfall and then scrambling up right to the top of a rock nose. From here the scramble follows the r/h edge of the ravine of the beck with an interesting exposed step at the top on to easier ground. The route then follows the left & right hand sides of the watercourse to within about 200m of Low Water taking in pretty much all of the rock along the way.

Donald led the first half of the route arranging appropriate belays and using appropriate techniques being coached by Iain along the way. Helen led the upper half of the scramble and can be seen in photo six protecting Donald using the rope around a good direct belay as he climbs towards her.

The pair had possibly been a little apprehensive about the idea of going straight to grade three ground after their training day on Long Crag the previous day, but Iain confident that they would be fine and they were. Both scrambled well and did a very good job of looking after one another.
We had finished Low Water Beck by early afternoon with time still to do Brim Fell Rib.

This delightful route bounds up to the north west of Low Water and after a short walk up to the foot of a broad buttress, the scrambling once again commences with the initial buttress being the steepest and largest one of the route.

Again, Donald led the route and it was necessary to "pitch" the first buttress which he did by bringing Helen up to a ledge with a direct belay around a spike to which she was secured on arrival. Donald then led the second part and used a direct belay at the top on safe ground consisting of a wallnut/HMS karabiner and Italian Hitch. Above here the route follows a line of rock steps on its way to the final steep skyline with expanses of grass in between. In photo seven Donald safeguards Helen up one of these steps using a body (indirect) belay. Low Water is in the background with Coniston Water way in the distance.

The final photo from this two day Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District sees the couple well satisfied with the days adventure.

Iain's delivery of the scrambling skills syllabus the previous day involved demonstrations by him and subsequent practice by the pair in a progressive manner and covered all the techniques with regards to how to deal with ground from grade one through to three. All of the syllabus was covered on the first day and both Donald & Helen absorbed the information well. Iain was under no doubt that his plan for day two was appropriate and as it turned out, the plan couldn't have been better.

From Iain's perspective, it was nice to be able to solo a couple of great scrambles and coach Helen & Donald where necessary. It was a great way to consolidate their learning from the previous day. Apparently on the following day they went out and Solo'd Jacks Rake above Stickle Tarn on The Langdale Pikes - another classic scrambling tick on every scramblers list and are looking forward to adding an appropriate scrambling rack to the rest of the kit they have......and getting out there scrambling! We wish them the best of luck with this.

Our Outdoor Sports Skills Training Courses in The Lake District are some of the best work that we do and include courses for Map Reading & Navigation, Scrambling and climbing in Summer & Winter, Kayaking, Canadian Canoeing and Caving.

Contact us if you are interested in learning the techniques for any of the above to be able to go out and do them yourself. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Half day Caving Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Sunday 1st September 2013.

After working with Bob & Paul Bettinson on Derwent Water, Iain was back in action the following day - this time caving in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Chris Farrar & his partner Yvonne. Photo one sees the pair near to the tree ringed shaft of Alum Pot - part of the Long Churns System

Chris had enquired about one of our half day Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park some time previously, Yvonne wasn't sure that caving would be her thing but was game to give it a try!

Iain took the pair on his standard Long Churns Tour - we went underground at Middle Entrance and downstream onwards to Lower Long Churns - en route for The Cheese Press and Dolly Tubs where one can enter Alum Pot from Underground.

Photo two shows the pair having already avoided a thorough soaking at Double Shuffle Pool contemplating getting past the next obstacle - Plank Pool - without getting too wet! Apparently, there used to be a wooden plank spanning this pool and it is from that which it gets it's name. Iain has to confess that he has never seen the plank and whilst he was able to traverse the pool without getting wet himself - both of the other two got a wee bit damp!

Following this it was on to The Cheese Press - a challenging low flat out bedding plane crawl. Chris managed to get through, Yvonne found it just a bit to challenging but reversed out back in to Cheese Press Chamber at an impressive speed!

After a quick visit to the top of the Dolly Tubs 15 metre pitch into Alum Pot and "lights off" to see the daylight entering, we returned to Lower Long Churns and made our way back out to daylight via Diccan Entrance. This involves breaking off right from the main lower passageway in to a smaller side passage which ultimately lowers to a short flat out crawl (photo three) just before one ends up back at the main streamway heading for the the Diccan Pot shaft in to Alum Pot. At this point daylight is visible upstream and after a short crawl we were back out in the fresh air.
Our usual route on a Long Churns Half Day Caving Session is to either do the wet upstream crawl from Diccan Entrance back in to Middle Long Churns or re-enter Middle Entrance and retrace our steps as far as Cross Passage (also known as Babtistry Crawl) and follow this to rejoin the main streamway in Upper Long Churns. However, the pair were happy to miss this out and so we headed upstream from Middle Entrance and ultimately on to Doctor Bannisters Washbasin where Alum Pot Beck enters the system - crashing down a waterslide into a large pool -The Washbasin.

Today, the water level in Long churns was very low, so rather than employ the usual assisted hoist on the waterfall, Iain just gave Yvonne (photo four) and Chris a leg up - it was that easy!

Our final photo in this half day caving post sees Iain (in the white helmet) and Chris stood atop the Limestone Pavement near to the upstream entrance in to Upper Long Churns with Penyghent in the background.

The bare limestone came about as a result of glacial action at the end of the last ice age 15'000 years ago when, basically, the glacier scraped everything off this rock. The surface now consists of little channels worn into the rock called Grykes and the ridges inbetween are called Clints. The Grykes caused by rainwater dissolving the limestone - a form of "chemical weathering".

Chris & Yvonne paid £45 each for their Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain and they were provided with caving oversuits, wellingtons and caving belts with the helmets & lights having been hired from nearby Inglesport - undoubtedly the best rendezvous in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for cavers and any outdoor sports enthusiast. To book your Half Day Caving Session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Canadian Canoeing Sessions in The Lake District. Saturday 31st August 2013.

Well, it's been over a week since we posted anything on the Kendal Mountaineering Services blog - the reason? we've been busy! It can be quite hard to come in after a day of demanding & strenuous work and then sit down to blog. We know we should, but sometimes it's just not possible - sorry!

The first post of the Autumn is actually from the last day of August when Iain had a day out Canadian Canoeing with returning clients Paul & Bob Bettinson (photo one) who had been out with us at exactly the same time the previous year on one of our Esk Gorge all day Ghyll Scrambling Trips.

Bob had been in touch quite a while ago to book another activity day in The Lake District with us and the pair were once again all the way up in The Lake District from Grays in Essex visiting Paul's brother in Lancaster. Bob had asked for a day of Canadian Canoeing in The Lake District and whilst a half day Canadian Canoeing Session on flat water such as Windermere, Coniston or Ullswater might have been fun, a full day out demanded something a little more exciting & progressive!

So, Iain took the pair to Derwent Water in the Northern Lake District. Photo two shows the pair in front of Iain's boat  heading for St Herberts Island on Derwent Water with Skiddaw - the lowest of the Lake Districts 3000 foot peaks in the distance on one of the days clear & calm spells - beautiful!

We actually started off the day by dropping the boats off at Kettlewell - the National Trust parking site at the head of Derwent Water and then Bob shuttled Iains car to a place at the foot of Dodd Wood - about six miles to the north. The reason for this - Iain's plan was that the pair would learn flat water skills on Derwent Water and then we would have a canoeing expedition from the south to the north end of the lake, lunching on one of the lakes islands before taking a river journey down the Middle Derwent that connects between Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake. Iain's car was left parked where the river trip would end and then once we had finished & loaded up the canoes Iain returned the pair to their vehicle at Kettlewell. Photo three shows Paul & Bob a few hours on from the previous photo - enjoying a spot of grade 2 action on the River Derwent.

So, for the pairs day out, Iain combined a half day beginners Canadian Canoeing Session with a half day river journey in The Lake District - what superb fun!. For anyone contemplating river journeying - Canadian Canoes are undoubtedly the best way to do it!

Photo four shows us about half way along our river journey with Skiddaw now considerably nearer.

The Middle Derwent was low despite the recent wet weather which was why Iain thought it would be a possibility for Paul & Bob. The pair thoroughly enjoyed their Canadian Canoeing adventure in The Lake District with Iain and are already talking about trying kayaking with us on their next visit to the area, we look forward to working with them again.

Contact us to arrange your own bespoke Canadian Canoe Adventure in The Lake District. Bob & Paul paid £160 for this full day out guided by Iain and remember - we do work with as few as two persons. You'll be provided with your own Canadian Canoe as well as a wetsuit, cagoule and bouyancy aid - making these sessions great value for a full day out!