Sunday 7 December 2014

A weekend at Plas-Y-Brenin. The Jagged Globe 2014 Leaders Forum. December 6th 2014.

It is quite a while since Iain has been in North Wales. Kendal Mountaineering Services doesn't get much call for Skills Training Courses in Snowdonia which is a shame, as for mountaineering and climbing, the area has more to offer than our native Lake District.

However, Iain recently received and invite to attend the Jagged Globe Leader Forum which was to be based at Plas Y Brenin - the UK's leading Mountain Training Centre. Photo one is a view of the lake to the west of Plas Y Brenin - the Llynnau Mymbyr. Crib Goch can be seen beyond the head of the lake and there is snow on the south side of "The Glyders" to the right. Plas Y Brenin is set right within the heart of some of Snowdonia's most striking mountain terrain and has a very long history as a centre providing training courses for Outdoor Pursuits.

The second photo is looking in the opposite direction - east along the Nant Gwryd. Plas y Brenin has great facilities of all types and great access to watersports on site as well as the mountains.

Iain well remembers a Level 3 Open Boat Training Course that he attended here in 2003 that started on the slipway to the left in this view. We all headed out on to Llynnau Mymbryr where we very quickly discovered just how unmanagable an Open Canoe, paddled solo, becomes - in anything more than a force 3 wind!

The Brenin has also long been famous for its dry Ski slope which gets used all year round in addition to its other facilities. The main building has a bar in addition to accommodation & dining facilities, a conference room and a climbing wall. There is plenty to do here for the outdoor enthusiast both indoors and out.

Jagged Globe were here to use the Brenins facilities as a venue for their Annual Leader Forum. The day spent in the Conference Room was very interesting - more in that in a moment!

Photo four is a view from the bar looking across to Moel Siabod - one of the biggest hills in the area and as you can see - in Winter Garb yesterday morning.

Iain, along with a number of other people had arrived at the Brenin the previous evening having booked the weekend package of two nights B & B and breakfast. The first evening was spent "networking"!
Photo five - another view from the bar looking along Llynnau Mymbyr yesterday morning. So who are Jagged Globe? Well, for 27 years, Jagged Globe has been at the forefront of organising mountaineering expeditions, mountaineering courses, adventurous skiing and high-altitude treks from within the UK. The company specialises in organising logistics and travel intineraries to the world biggest mountains including Mera Peak and Aconcagua which Iain has already climbed.

Business tends to quieten down for us here at KMS over winter and Iain hopes to get on to Jagged Globe's books as an Expedition Leader. With that in mind, the company invited him to attend their leader Forum which was great fun. As regards working for them? Well - watch this space!

Photo six sees some of the organisations many Expedition Leaders as we all prepared to enter the Conference Room. Topics were diverse but centred around mountaineering and altitude. First up was a discussion around the tragedy of trekker - Rachel Burke who died from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) in 2011 on the Everest Base Camp Trek. The discussion centred around the events leading up to her death; and how this could have been avoided.

Second up was Kay Mitchell from Xtreme Everest telling us all  about the effects of high altitude on human physiology and what can be done to prevent AMS. This organisation recently set up camps on the route up Everest from the Nepal side with the support of Jagged Globe and a number of other organisations and here trekkers & mountaineers underwent significant physiological testing for the effects of altitude. The results made for very interesting reading.

After Lunch, Iain Sherrington from Glenmore Lodge told us all about the steps the organisation has taken following their avalanche tragedy in 2013. Glenmore Lodge subsequently invested heavily in Avalanche Tranceivers and other equipment and now provide avalanche training to clients as part of all their winter courses. A three year trial programme will lead them to conclude whether or not to coninue with this course of action beyond that point.

Photo seven looks towards the bunkhouse accommodation at Plas Y Brenin from outside of the conference room.

After Ian Sherrington's presentation there followed a rather moving presentation by Paul Sheridan - a trekker who survived a snowstorm on the Thorung La in Nepal during October in which a large number of others lost their lives. The presentation only served to strengthen the view of a need for education with regards to the importance of proper mountaineering clothing being carried by trekkers and their guides and the putting in place of a strategy to deal with the effects of bad weather on this and other high mountain passes.

The final photo is of the front of Plas Y Brenin on the A4086 at Capel Curig.

To finish off the day, we heard, from a well known local instructor, about his recent experience on Ama Dablam when, due to an impending turn in the weather, some clients decided to ignore a carefully planned acclimatization programme for ascending the mountain and climb too high, too quickly! The result nearly led to the death of one of the trekkers when other members had to go to his rescue. Lessons were learned!!

After an most interesting day, all those attending the forum adjourned to the dining room at Plas Y Brenin for a pre-arranged Christmas Dinner. What followed was a merry occasion which continued into the small hours.

Thank you to Plas Y Brenin for hosting the event and for providing great facilities and a great setting in which to conduct this forum. For Iain, it was great to be back at a place from where he has many great memories - as he prepared to gain his Mountaineering Instructor Award over ten years ago.

And also thank you to Jagged Globe for arranging a fantastic and informative forum which was a great deal of fun to attend. Looking forward to the next one.........

Thursday 20 November 2014

Outdoor Activity Gift Vouchers. Ideal for Christmas presents, Birthday Gifts or any special occasion!

Christmas is only five weeks away! Still unsure of what to buy that loved one, special friend or family member? Do they enjoy the great outdoors? Have they expressed interest in learning an outdoor sport such as Rock Climbing, Canoeing, kayaking or Map Reading? Would they like to try out an activity such as Ghyll Scrambling or Canyoing or abseiling? If so - then we have the answer for a Christmas Gift with a difference that they will love!

Our Gift Certificates are ideal for that special Christmas Present. They can be used in full or part payment towards any of the activity sessions or Skills Training Courses that we provide. Buying your Christmas Gift Certificate is very simple. First - browse our selection of courses on our website homepage under Courses & Tuition, Upcoming Courses or Upcoming Skye Cuillin Ridge Trips. Secondly, visit our prices page and finally contact us to buy your gift certificate.

You have two choices as to how you can receive your Gift Certificate. We will either email the certificate to you for you to print and present at no extra cost; or, for only an extra £1.50, we will print your Gift Certificate to high quality paper and post to you - it's that simple!

So get online and browse our courses. We have a whole range of activities and courses to delight the Outdoor Enthusiast, Adventurer and Adrenalin Junkie and they will just love one of our Gift Certificates. Order yours today!

Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. November 2014.

October and November have been quiet times for us here at Kendal Mountaineering Services. True - the weather hasn't been great, wet cold and grey overcast days aren't the most inspiring conditions for encouraging people into getting out but if you are looking to have an adventure then caving is ideal and water levels are also good for canoeing or kayaking.

We have also had some good weather days too! There is nothing like some sunshine & blue sky to lift your spirits and the Lake District Fells can be very beautiful in their Autumn colours. Fell Walking is a great pastime on days like these and if your map reading & Navigation Skills are not what they might be then you can always enrole on one of our Lake District Based Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses.

Our most recent bit of work has been with Pam Hallesy who booked a 1 day Navigation Skills Training Course (photo one). Pam lives in the south east but regularly visits the area as she loves fell walking in The Lake District. Pam found our 1 day bespoke Navigation Skills Training Course very rewarding and plans to return for a second day in the New Year.

Photo two sees Belinda, Becky & Al who attended one of our weekend Navigation Skills Training Courses in September. These courses are run over two days and provided we get four people booking, the courses will run at the bargain price of only £80 per person. Dates are now up for our 2015 Navigation Skills Training Weekends and bookings are coming in. Three places are already taken on our April course so, with only one more person required for it to definitely take place it's worth thinking about joining!
As well as running Navigation Skills Training Weekends on set dates, we will also run you your very own bespoke Navigation Skills Training course in The Lake District at any time you choose. Our prices start at £160 per day for one to four persons with discounts being applied if you are a family and want to bring your children along.

This was the case in photo three with the Kendall Family who came along with their three sons looking for a one day map reading course. With a discount for the lads the day cost the equivalent of only £44 each and as well as learning new skills with which to venture into the hills - they also had a great deal of fun!

Photo four was taken during the April Navigation Skills weekend this year which was fully subscribed and run in good weather. We spent day one learning most of the skills required to map read & navigate successfully in an area not to far from the meeting point at Staveley. Day two was spent on the hills in the distance - part of the Kentmere Horseshoe learning more skills and putting into practice those learn the previous day.

Our Lake District based Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses are a very rewarding way to learn the skills you'll need to venture into the UK's mountains with confidence and very good value. These courses are also ideal for aspiring Mountain Walking Leaders wishing to brush up on their navigation skills prior to an assessment or re-assessment. The weekend courses at only £80 per person make an ideal present so if you are wondering what to buy a family member of friend this Christmas then buy them a  space on one of our courses and present it to them as one of our Gift Vouchers. Contact us here to book your Navigation Skills Training course  in The Lake District for 2015 and get ready to venture into the hills.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. September 27th & 28th 2014.

Just before we headed south for our holiday in Jordan, Iain had one more bit of work to do. The first of our Autumn/winter Lake District based Navigation Skills Training Courses was scheduled to run during the last weekend of the month.

Despite being amazing value at just £80 per person for this two day course, it didn't book up well. However, we did have the minimum of four persons booked on to it for the Saturday at least, so Iain decided to run it anyway!

We were joined by two returning clients Al & Becky (centre & right, photo one) who joined Iain for a hardcore day of Caving in the Yorkshire Dales last February. It was good to see them again and they were joined by their mate Belinda who came out for the Saturday. Of the fourth person, there was no sign; although Iain later discovered that she had thought the course was not going ahead!

However, with those who did turn up, we cracked on through the usual syllabus on Saturday. This starts with our discussing the importance of map orientation followed by a comparison of map scales and their effect on detail.

We then set off on a linear route having discussed pacing and measuring distance. By the time we had gotten to the point in photo two, the girls were also able to find grid references on the map and had just walked on their first bearing. Good progress!

We spent the remainder of day one walking from grid reference to grid reference always on a bearing; and pacing the distances as accurately as possible. We finished the day discussing Naismiths Rule (3km per hour plus 1 minute for every 10m contour crossed and then spent a while working out timings between a number of grid references before walking back to the cars. A good day with a lot of learning having taken place.

Day two saw Iain, Al & Becky parking up further along the kentmere valley with the intention of taking the usual route up Shipman Knotts & Kentmere Pike.

Iain started the pair off by adding a new skill - how to use the compass to identify something you can see from a known location (photo three) The pair were already very good at reading from map to ground but this new technique would help them confirm what they thought they were looking at - a useful boost to confidence which is essential in the mountains!

We set off with the intention of ascending Shipman Knotts from the bridleway linking Green Quarter to Sadgill, but that involves  following another linear feature (the wall running along the crest). Iain wanted to push this pair a bit harder so we set off around the hillside above Sadgill - firstly to find the head of a small stream. Real Mountain Walking Leader Standard stuff!

And of course Becky & Al found their stream head no problem through a combination of pacing, walking on a bearing and being able to read the shape of the ground from the contours on the map.

We then went on to find a significant change in direction in another stream before heading up to a gently sloping shelf on the otherwise steeply sloping east face of Shipman Knotts - the pair could identify where they were going even before we got there! It wasn't until we got on to the summit plateau of Kentmere Pike in thick mist walking on a long leg from another stream head to the summit Trig Point that they really had to work hard; and then they were pretty much bang on finding that Trig Point!

By this time, it was mid afternoon so Iain's last instruction was "Right! - get us back to those cars now please!" which of course they did no problem.

So our first Navigation Skills Training Course of the Autumn went well with three people learning a lot of new skills which should help them venture into the mountains with confidence in the future. Job done!

Our next Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District  is projected to take place on November 1st & 2nd with a further on on November 29th & 30th.

There are plenty of spaces available on both weekends and at £80 per person for the two day course they are a bargain. Contact us here to book your place today!

Also, dates for our 2015 Mountain Navigation Skills Training Weekends are up on the website here so you can plan well in advance to attend one of these great courses. We look forward to working with you.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trips 2015 dates now up. Join the conversation here!

Details of our 2015 Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trips are now up - early to allow you all time to plan well in advance.

Details of what is involved can be found be visiting the webpage here.

Join in the conversation about these trips on Facebook here.

Interested in joining - contact Iain at Kendal Mountaineering services here or call on 07761 483364.

We look forward to your joining us for an amazing week on this amazing ridge on the Isle of Skye.

Ghyll Scrambling in the Lake District. Church Beck. 23rd September 2014

Wednesday 23rd Sepember found Iain back at Church Beck near Coniston - this time running a Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District on behalf of The Scouts for St Cuthberts RC Primary School from Chester Le Street, County Durham.

These children were on a five day residential course based at Great Tower Scout Activity Centre near Windermere. We have enjoyed running a considerable number of activity days for The Scouts this Summer - in particular caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

With the continuing warm weather, it was still fine to take these young people for a thorough soaking in Church Beck in their attire of personal clothing underneath Sailing Oversuits - it was just enough to keep them warm - good news as primary age children tend to get chilly a lot quicker than adults.

Ghyll Scrambling; or gorge walking as it is also known, involves walking/wading up a mountain stream - clambering up waterfalls and swimming through and jumping into deep pools. It is fun and exhilarating and best done in the Summer months when temperatures are warmer.

For people of all ages it can be an adventurous and challenging experience, it is also great family fun! We find Gorge Walking Sessions in The Lake District are very popular with Stag & Hen parties looking for an event with a difference. Read about our last Stag Event here and enjoy this video from that event!

Gorge walking sessions are also great for Team Building Events and we have a corporate client - Nucleargraduates, who regularly use our services over the Summer Months as part of their recruitment process. Our involvement in the Nucleargraduates Induction workshop programme sees us running a Ghyll Scrambling Session as as "icebreaker" to get groups of successful graduate apprentices forming friendships and bonds that will help them work together over the next two years of their apprentice-ships within the nuclear industry. So far, these sessions have proven to be highly effective for the client.

We have never yet run a Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking Session in The Lake District that wasn't fun; and today, with this primary School Group, was no exception.

All of the children had loads of fun getting soaked and attempting challenges such as jumping into pools or crawling under logs through the water (as in photo three) Eventually though, the smallest & skinniest of them started to feel a bit chilly - so it was time to get out. Anyone for hot Chocolate & Cake in Ambleside? - words enough to bring a smile back to the face of even the chilliest child! Our prices start at £45 per person for a half day (four hour) ghyll scrambling session in The Lake District. However, if you are a family group we do apply discounts as we know how expensive it can all become on the holiday budget! Contact us for details, we look forward to working with you.

Rock Climbing Courses in The Lake District. September 21st 2014.

After Iains busy & varied day on Saturday providing an Introductory Rock Climbing Session and a Canyoning Session, he was out the next day with Kathryn West Rock Climbing as a follow up to the Rock Climbing Skills Training Day in The Lake District that Kathryn had attended in August with Sarah Payne.

Unfortunately, Sarah had to withdraw from this second pre-arranged Rock Climbing Skills Training Day at short notice. This left Sarah with the option of being guided by Iain on some multi-pitch rock climbs; or being allowed to attempt leading on multi-pitch rock routes of the easiest grade only.

During the previous Rock Climbing Skills Training Course, Kathryn had gotten on very well with all aspect of the syllabus covered and was regularly seconding climbs graded at VS/HVS with a climbing partner. After some consideration, Iain felt that it would be safe for Kathryn to lead whilst being mentored by him.

We therefore returned to Langdale where Kathryn led, first of all, on Middlefell Buttress.

Middlefell Buttress is a fine multi-pitch climb graded Difficult (which actually means that it is an easy low grade climb!). The route is a popular choice with people aspiring to lead multi-pitch rock routes and beginners will often be found climbing there. It is also a popular route with Mountaineering Instructors who use it as a place to teach the techniques of Multi-pitch leading. The route rises up good rock in a series of 4 pitches before one can abseil off into the gully forming the left hand boundary of the buttress or, as Kathryn chose (in photo 1) there is an additional and pleasant fifth pitch which can also be climbed.

Kathryn demonstrated good climbing ability and her anchor placement and belay construction techniques improved as we progressed up this rock climb. Photo two sees Kathryn at the final belay on Middlefell Buttress - looking justifiably pleased!

Time always flies past when you are taking your time and learning about climbing; and by the time we had completed Middlefell buttress it was already 2pm. This meant that we were going to struggle to complete another rock climb by 5pm unless it was somewhat shorter.

Iain decided that Centipede (a 3 pitch Severe) would be appropriate in terms of time and length. Kathryn led the first pitch from the Raven Crag descent path up to below the steep wall & traverse and then Iain took over on this rather harder pitch.

Photo three sees Kathryn appearing around the corner at the end of the traverse on Centipede's second pitch. On arriving at Iain's stance she then took over again and led on up the diagonal crack to the top of the buttress. There was still time for Kathryn to lead on from here up the final easy ground which she did, well.
The final photograph from this post about one of our Lake District Rock Climbing Courses just had to be taken and shows the head of Langdale from the base of Middlefell Buttress. It had been another warm & sunny day!

We have been blessed this year with one of the best Summers in recent times with weeks & weeks of hot, dry & sunny weather throughout June & most of July - just want you need for rock climbing out of doors! After a largely wet & cold August, we were lucky that the good weather should return; and then remain throughout all of September.

As we now move through a rather wet & miserable October - here's looking forward to a cold & snowy winter ideal for winter climbing, but in the meantime, you can still enjoy adventures with us in the great outdoors. How about trying caving, canoeing or kayaking; and we have plenty of availability on our Navigation & Map Reading Skills Courses running in November. Contact us here if you are interested in any of these activities or courses, we look forward to working with you.

Canyoning in The Lake District. Church Beck. September 20th 2014

After running a morning Introductory Rock Climbing Session in The Lake District for Andrew Cooper, Iain drove across to Coniston to run one of our popular Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District for Rebecca Harrison & her Dad Ian.

Rebecca had originally booked this session with us way back at the end of last year as a Christmas Gift Voucher for herself and a friend. Unfortunately she was subsequently unable to attend for the session before now; and her friend was unable to join her, however, her Dad was happy to fill the place.

Photo one sees Rebecca as Iain lowers her down the top waterfall in Church Beck. Rebecca's Mum had also followed us up the gorge and can be seen watching from the road in the distance. Our Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District often attract amused onlookers!
Canyoning is a term used to describe descending a mountain stream - abseiling down waterfalls; and where possible - jumping down waterfalls in to deep pools below. The sport is designed to provide an adenalin rush, a degree of challenge and of course, a whole lot of fun!

We do our best to keep you comfortable & safe on any of our Lake District Canyoning Sessions by ensuring you are appropriately equipped and to that end, everyone gets a wetsuit and a cagoule to keep you as warm as possible, walking boots  to provide good grip, protection & ankle support, a buoyancy aid to keep you afloat and a helmet & harness to protect you on those more serious sections. You will always be guided by an experienced Canyoning Instructor with safety equipment. We also take photos and videos of your session which are passed on to you at no extra charge.

Photo two is a view of  Ian & Rebecca in the pool at the bottom of the first waterfall in Church Beck.

Rebecca & Ian had a great Canyoning Session with Iain. We followed that lower down the first waterfall with a climb down & jump into a deep pool past the next waterfall immediately below.

A short walk downstream brought us to Miners Bridge and the second waterfall lower. Following this we scrambled down to the section known as the top jumps where a roped traverse and short lower puts you in a safe position to jump into the pool below. After this we climbed down the next waterfall and swam a pool to arrive at the slide down the big chockstone behind the pair in photo three.

After doing the slide, we then continued downstream as far as the end of the gorge and then turned around and climbed a waterfall (roped) before getting out of the gorge at a point just below where photo three was taken.

The final "grand finale" is a walk up the left hand bank of the gorge followed by a scramble down to a point around 18 feet above the deep pool that is above the chockstone in photo three. Standing there looking down at the pool - it looks like a much bigger jump and you certainly feel like you get some airtime when you do finally make that leap! The only way out now is to do the chockstone slide a second time, brilliant!

Even though Iain was only working with this pair today, we still managed to fill the afternoon and Rebecca & Ian were very happy with the experience; and the photos and videos that subsequently followed!

Canyoning in The Lake District with us is great fun! Contact us here to book your session. At £45 per person for a half day session (minimum of two persons) it won't break the bank and, as the was the case with this session, it makes an ideal Christmas present for friends or family!

Introductory Rock Climbing Sessions in The Lake District. September 20th 2014.

Just in case readers of our blog think that  we have packed up - no of course not! We have just been away on holiday, Jordan to be precise. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get caught up with the blogging before we went away - so here goes!

The weekend of September 20th & 21st was a busy one for us - Iain provided three different activity sessions over the two days. We started off providing an Introductory half day Rock Climbing Session in The Lake District for Andrew Cooper who wanted to get on to some proper outdoor rock with his daughter Freya; and friend Chaya had also come along to join in.

The venue Iain used in this occasion was Lower Scout Crag in Langdale - a well known single pitch crag often used by groups as a venue for Introductory Climbing Sessions. Photo one sees Andrew belaying Chaya as she climbs the route - The Slab MVS4b. The hardest bit is always entering the groove in which Chaya is stood!

Photo two sees Andrew learning the nuts & bolts of setting up for an Introductory Climbing Session. An introductory Rock Climbing Session will generally employ the use of a "top rope/bottom belay" system.

This system  can be seen in use in photo one (and three) and involves the setting up of top anchors into which a climbing rope is attached.

The top anchor will usually consist of two gear placements equalised to a central attachment point using static (prestretched) rope - that's the white rope in photo two. The yellow sleeves are rope protectors and these should be used anywhere where the rope can rub on rock - to prevent wear!

Once the top anchors are arranged and the climbing rope attached to the central attachment point, it is always a good idea to get someone an the bottom ot the crag to "load" the rope - just to make sure that ultimately, the load on both anchor points is equal. You will always find that adjustment is necessary here before climbing can begin!

Following that it is a case of the climber tying into the rope and the belayer cliping the rope into the belay plate attached to their harness. Whilst the climber climbs up (Freya in photo three), the belayer (Andrew) takes in the rope - keeping it tight to prevent a slip or fall. On occasions where the belayer may struggle to hold a falling climber or may leave the ground (generally due to the fact that the person they are belaying is much heaveer than they are!) a third person can be used to "tail" ie hold the dead rope behind the belayer to act as a safety back up and or hold the belayer down. None of this was necessary here though.

Our Introductory Rock Climbing Sessions in The Lake District are a great way to experience the thrill of climbing rock for the first time and are very safe. All of our instructors are qualified holders of the Single Pitch Award as a minimum requirement for single pitch crags such as Lower Scout; and for any climbing of  a more serious nature they will be Mountaineering Instructors. Prices start at £45 per person for a 4 hour session and include the provision of helmets harnesses and if required, walking boots as well qualified instruction. These sessions are ideal as part of a team building event families or couples. Contact us here to book your session.

If you like the sound of this or know someone who might - then why not buy them an Introductory Rock Climbing Session as a gift with one of our Activity Gift Vouchers. Christmas is coming!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Level 2 Caving day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Sunday 14th September 2014.

Variety is the spice of life; and when you run an Outdoor Activity Company - variety is certainly what you get! Iain could get a "proper job" like his mate Paul mentioned in our previous post but who wants to be sat in an office in a building when you can have the whole of the great outdoors as your office? Not us - that's for sure!

And today, our office was the Yorkshire Dales National Park as we set about providing Shirley & Graham (photo one) with a day of hardcore Level 2 Caving in Kingsdale.
A level 2 caving session differs from a level one introductory caving session in so much that the Cave Leader is qualifed to work with clients on vertical pitches of up to 18 metres (60 feet) in hieght - a very much more serious proposition than the 2 metre (6 foot) pitches to be found on a level One Caving Session.

To get to where Graham is in photo two, Iain had lowered him & Shirley down a 6 metre pitch after a 500 metre walk underground with considerable stooping & some crawling. We had then continued up the streamway in Kingsdale Master Cave for a further 200 metres before crawling another 200 through a low chilly streamway to get to this point - strenuous, challenging stuff and an adventure of a serious nature!

And we were only half way there with regards to this particular Level 2 Caving Trip - but it was worth it for where we were heading!

Photo three sees Graham in the massive vertical  cavern that is the Swinsto Great Aven. This chamber goes shooting upwards for a hieght of over 40 metres and its floor is a steep jumble of mud & boulders that have fallen out of the roof far above.

There are a couple of fixed handlines in place allowing cavers to ascend the tricky slopes to some of the caverns higher reaches such as the place where Graham was stood. Swinsto Great Aven is an awesome place and well worth the hard work required to get there.
Having investigated the upper reaches of the Great Aven in as much as we could, Iain led the pair out via the other route leading back to Kingsdale Master Cave - South East Passage.

Whichever way you enter the Great Aven, a climb up/scramble down through boulders is required, however, Philosophers Crawl takes the main flow entering from Swinsto & Simpsons Pots and is lower & wetter than South East Passage which is also the shorter route.

It was with some relief for Shirley that the crawling down here was soon over and were were able to walk back down the main streamway in the Master Cave to the pitch foot. Iain  ascended this pitch and then dropped the ladder down for Shirley and Graham who climbed it in fine style - again, no easy task! It is no wonder that Shirley was all smiles as she appears at the pitch head in photo four.

Our round trip underground via Valley Entrance (photo one), the Master Cave and Swinsto Great Aven took three hours and it was about 1pm before we emerged from the lidded entrance to the cave system into warmth and sunlight. That left all afternoon; and definitely time for another Level 2 Caving Trip - so should it be Heron Pot or Yordas Cave?

Shirley didn't fancy the idea of more crawling and there is a fair crawl out of Heron Pot at the end, but the idea of being lowered into Yordas Cave and down the truly impressive Chapter House Waterfall into the equally as impressive main chamber appealed - so after a relaxed lunch in the sunshine, that was what we went and did!

Photo five sees Graham as Iain lowers him down the Chapter House Waterfall to the delight of a family (and shirley) watching from below. This pitch is very impressive with the noise of the water as it crashes down into the darkness - fortunately today it was well lit from the bottom thanks to the family with their headtorches and Shirley.

Our final photo from this post about a Level Two Caving Day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park sees Iain with a pair of very satisfied clients who had throughly enjoyed their challenging and very adventurous day underground.

The day had included a visit to two cave systems, being lowered down four pitches  - the highest of which had been the last one at over 15 metres in height; and also a climb up out of the Master Cave of 6 metres in height. Total distance covered was in the region of 3.5km consisting of walking, stooping and crawling - at times through quite chilly water!

The pair paid just £80 each for this day out with Iain and that fee included all of the equipment you see them wearing in this final photo. Great value for a fantastic experience.

Level Two Caving is great fun and very rewarding for the effort involved to reach some of the more remote and impressive places underground. Level One Caving Sessions are as much fun but less physically demanding and prices start at just £45 per person for a half day (four hour) Introductory Caving Session.

Contact us here to arrange a great adventure that you'll never forget. We look forward to working with you.

Introductory Kayaking Sessions in The Lake District. Saturday 13th September 2014.

Well, Summer has finally turned into Autumn, but the Summer weather is still with us. Conditions are perfect for doing any outdoor activity you fancy. Of course now that the Summer Holidays are over things have quietened down somewhat - but we are still fully booked up for every weekend this month!

Last weekend saw Iain out on Saturday providing an Introductory Kayaking Session in The lake District for long time friend Paul Ridhalgh.

Photo one was taken on Derwentwater after we had gotten on at Kettlewell, done a short foray on to the Upper Derwent and then headed back on to the lake with the intention of having lunch on St Herbert's Island. As you can see, the weather was great, warm sunshine and no wind!

Paul has a "proper job" working as a project Manager for BAE Systems in Barrow in Furness and his role is largely office based. He was keen to try out Kayaking in order that he might learn some skills to go and paddle on some of the rivers on Lancashires Fylde District - his home area.

As he was keen to get some moving water action, Iain arranged to run Paul's Introductory Kayaking Session on Derwentwater and follow it with a journey down the Middle Derwent.

Photo two was taken some time later as we headed down the Middle Derwent and is taken just below Portinscale Footbridge. On this section, the river is at it's most lively as it descends onwards towards Bassenthwaite lake. Today, it was very low and an ideal level for introducing a novice to the skills required on moving water.

The journey along the Middle Derwent is about 5 kilometres long and takes several hours to travel.

The rivers leaves Derwentwater through a deep narrow channel flowing slowly until it is joined by the Rive Greta coming in from Keswick. After this, a lively section, though still only grade 2 in difficulty, continues all the way to the A66 Keswick Bypass bridge.

Beyond there, the river flows at a slower pace and consists of deep pools interspersed with rapids. Some of these contain obstacles such as dead trees or overhanging bushes. Iain led the way and advised Paul as to how to deal with each rapid.

However, in photo three Paul was unlucky enough to get tipped over by a submerged root and is emptying out his kayak. No-one likes to get a soaking - but at least he got to practise the capsize drill that Iain had explained earlier!

The final photo from this Introductory Kayaking Session in The Lake District sees us just below the getout at Low Stock Bridge having covered, in total, at least 10 kilometres on both Derwentwater and the Middle Derwent.

Paul had enjoyed his day out with Iain and is certainly interested in the idea of getting his own kayak. However, he struggled throughout the day with getting his whitewater kayak to go in a straight line so is thinking of getting a Sea Kayak which might be the right boat for him - so long as he doesn't need to turn quickly to avoid a tree root!

Paul paid £160 for his day out with Iain but two people also get the same session at that price which makes it exceptional value if you are looking for a guided day out on water in The Lake District with all of the technical equipment you'll need provided as part of the fee.

Fancy trying out Kayaking or Canoeing and having a similar great day out? Contact us here to book your session. We look forward to working with you.

Friday 12 September 2014

Lake District based Scrambling Skills Training Courses. 9th & 10th September 2014.

Last Tuesday & Wednesday, Iain ran a Scrambling Skills Training course in The Lake District for Russell Cullen and his father Stephen.

Stephen, now retired, thoroughly enjoys spending time in the mountains and particularly enjoys scrambling - which he often goes off and does on his own.

Russell had bought one of our Activity Gift Vouchers last Christmas for his Dad as he thought that  it would be an ideal way of making sure that Stephen gained some proper tuition in the skills required for safe scrambling. He then decided to join his Dad on this course. Photo one sees the pair enjoying some easy scrambling on Tarn Crag in langdale and practising the skill of "Spotting" that is to keep each other safe by the use of hands to prevent a slip or fall - generally all that is required on this type of scrambling terrain.

We spent the morning and early afternoon of the pairs first day on an easy grade one buttress looking at all of the skills required for safe scrambling. Having started with Spotting, we then moved on to "Short Roping" which is used on steeper terrain where spotting alone would be ineffective and where a slip could definitely turn into something more serious.

Short roping does, as the name implies, involve using a short length of climbing rope attached between a scrambling pair - kept tensioned by the lead scrambler to protect the second as they climb steeper sections of scrambling terrain.

Of course, the leader has to remain safe themselves whilst providing this tension (known as belaying). Sometimes, merely a braced stance - pulling in the rope hand over hand will do, but sometimes a more secure method of belaying is needed on steeper rock to prevent the leader from being pulled off by a falling second. In photo two, Russell uses a direct belay to lower Stephen down a short steep rock section.

Whilst short roping, we practised the various options of belaying available for use by the pair. These included an indirect or body belay seen being used by Russell here in photo three and various "direct" belays such as that seen in photo two.

A direct belay can take the form of a sling around a solid spike of rock to which a pear shaped karabiner is attached. An Italian Hitch (friction hitch) is then used to safeguard a second. Italian Hitches can be used for both belaying a second up or down a scrambling pitch. Other forms of direct belay include merely running the rope around a spike of rock or using a Wallnut or similar anchoring device c/w an Italian Hitch. What is important is that the anchor MUST be solid, ie it must not be likely to move or fail when loaded!

Usually, day two of our Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District will see us consolidating the learning and practical work done on day one through further practice & coaching.

This will be done by visiting a further two graded scrambles (one will have already been climbed during the latter part of the first day). We might have returned to Langdale to Tarn Crag - ultimately moving on to Jacks's Rake ( a classic Lake District Scramble) for our "finale", but Stephen had already done that scramble some time previously.

So, Iain decided to take the pair to the Coniston area in order that they could ascend the area's highest peak - the Old Man. But instead of following the usual route - ie one of the many footpaths, we followed the scrambling line of Low Water Beck (grade 3) seen here in photo four as Russell sets off up the very first pitch.
Low Water Beck is a fine long scramble with some steep, rock in it's first section where it follows the right hand side of the precipitous watercourse (a great little winter climb when frozen).

Pitching is necessary all the way to the top of the first section and direct belays are required to protect the second. Above here, the angle and "exposure factor" eases although there are still few pitches requiring good solid belaying techniques interspersed between some "moving together" terrain.

At the top we had lunch before moving past Low Water (the tarn in photo five and climbing the final slope to the top of the ridge by way of the pleasant and relatively easy grade 2 route Brim Fell Rib.

On this route, Russell & Stephen were able to move faster as the terrain is less steep and serious than Low Water Beck. Moving together was appropriate here as were simple belaying techniques such as body belays, hand over hand as seen in this photo and the use of the rope around the odd rock spike.

The final photo from this post about a Scrambling Skills Training Course in The lake District is a view north from the summit of the Old Man of Coniston looking down on Low Water.

Our first scrambling route had followed the line of the stream issuing from this small tarn and whilst we were following it, we saw only two other persons. The second route takes the line of the rocky outcrops that can be seen rising from the tarn towards the top left hand of the photo and on this route, we saw no-one.

This just goes to prove that if you want to get the the top of a mountain without seeing too many people then a scrambling line is the best way to go - providing exhilaration, challenge; and a little exposure along the way!

Both Russell & Stephen thoroughly enjoyed their two day Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District with Iain and paid just £80 each per day. The fee includes instruction and coaching by a qualified Mountaineering Instructor as well as the provision of helmets, harnesses, rope and scrambling rack.

To book your Guided Scrambling Course or Scrambling Skills Training Course in The lake District contact us here. Don't forget - we also run these courses in North Wales and Scotland! We look forward to working with you.

Stag Events in The Lake District. Saturday & Sunday September 6th & 7th 2014.

Last weekend, we provided a day and a half of adventurous activities for Alan Robinsons Stag group. Alan & a bunch of mates travelled over from Teeside for the weekend to stay at Bowness on Windermere. Alans mate - Andrew McIntyre organised the weekends itinerary with us. The group wanted a half day of Ghyll Scrambling followed by a half day of Kayaking on Saturday and then a morning of Abseiling on the Sunday.

Photo one sees the group about half way up the great little Ghyll Scrambling venue of Stickle Ghyll in Langdale. Most people were now starting to perk up" after a heavy night before. If there is one thing that Ghyll Scrambling's good for - its curing hangovers!

Photo two sees one of Alan's Stag party as he climbs up the final waterfall at the top of Stickle Ghyll. To get to this point, the Stag Group had covered around 2km of ghyll - scrambling and wading upstream, swimming through and jumping into pools as well as climbing up waterfalls - two of which were roped climbs such as the one seen here!

We could have continued a little further upstream beyond this point, but we really needed to move on to the next session. Enjoy the Youtube video of this Ghyll Scrambling Session kindly provided by Alan (the Stag). It gives a really good impression of what great fun this activity really is!

After our Ghyll Scrambling Session, we gave the lads some time to get to get some lunch at the handy Sticklebarn Tavern before heading over to Coniston for the afternoon's Kayaking Session.

Alyn - Iain's assistant for the day, had already headed over to unload the kayaks from the trailer and get all of the equipment ready. So, when we got there - all the lads had to do was to get back into their wetsuits & cagoules, grab a buoyancy aid and spraydeck and then with a bit of instruction, fit themselves into their kayaks; and go! Just look at the weather - what a great day we were having so far.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of learning Kayaking skills - how to make the craft go forwards, backwards, turn stop etc, before Al organised a load of games. These included raft games and ball games (as in photo four) here, the group split into two teams and each team scored by hitting Al's kayak with the ball - though each team member could only hang on to the ball for a count of six (so not long!) Inbetween games, we journeyed along the lake a short distance.

This session finished off with a very wobbly relay race from the shore, around Iains Kayak & back to shore. The lads had to sit on (not in!) their kayaks for this race - hence the instability, most fell in of course!

Owing to the "nature" of the weekend, Andrew - the organiser, had asked for a late start on the sunday morning; and both Iain & Al were fine to push it back a further half hour so that we could all have a decent lie in.

Iain met the group at Skelwith Bridge with Al having gone on ahead to set up the Abseil site at Hodge Close, ready for the groups arrival.

Photo five sees two of the lads getting stuck in to the descent of the big slab abseil at Hodge. Many of the group had abseiled before - in the distant past! so it was quite a challenge to give it another go. Good effort!

The final photograph from this post about a Stag Weekend in The Lake District sees the whole group as we headed off to a different part of Hodge Close to do another abseil - this time a little higher but much steeper.

The lads thoroughly enjoyed their adventurous activity weekend with Iain & Al; and had a couple of great nights out in Bowness. It must be said that they all turned up in better shape for the abseiling than for the activities the previous morning. Perhaps they thought that they really ought to be sober today as abseiling was the most challenging & potentially dangerous activity?

All of this Stag group paid just £95 each or the equivalent of just over £30 each for three different challenging activity sessions and each session included the provision of all personal protective equipment required.

If you want to organise something really special for your mates Stag do then give us a call and we will make sure you have an occasion that you'll never forget - for all the right reasons!