Sunday 16 March 2014

Introductory caving sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. Long Churns. 15th March 2014.

Yesterday, Iain was underground with Poppy Curtis and Mark Price both from Leeds. Poppy & Mark had been referred to us from our friends at Live For Today Adventures based in Harrogate - a big thanks for them for recommending us for caving!

The caving session with us was organised by Poppy for Marks birthday. They had previously stayed in Giggleswick the night before meeting Iain At Inglesport in Ingleton yesterday morning.

Iain took the pair to Long Churns. In photo one, we are near to Alum Pot which is an 80 metre deep shaft in the plantation seen behind the pair.

Poppy had been caving quite a few times in the past having done an Outdoor Leaders Course at a Further Education College in Leeds some years previously and her course tutor had taken her to all sorts of caving venues. Poppy considered that Mark, who had never caved before, might quite enjoy the experience.

He certainly did as you can see in photo two as he emerges from the famous Cheese Press in Long Churns - one of the best known places underground in The Yorkshire Dales where many a novice caver and school kid have an experience they'll never forget!

Long Churns is a great cave not only for the novice, but also for the experienced caver too. As well as providing an exciting way in to Alum Pot and a place where more serious aspirants can practise their Single Rope Technique (SRT) Skills, there are quite a few tight & wet crawls such as the one in photo three in the "Roof series". People can also exit the system via November Hole which is quite unpleasant or have a very wet experience crawling along the 200m canal in Wilsons Cave.

As Poppy had been to some quite exciting venues before, Iain felt it appropriately to include the "Roof Series" crawl as a passage of interest for her.

After only two hours underground, we had done everything in Long Churns that could be reasonably achieved. It was only 11:30am, so we had time to visit to Borrins Moor Caves as well!

Photo four sees the pair in the main cave at Borrins Moor, we made our way in from the surface down to the point where the continuation becomes a wet bedding crawl before turning around and taking a left turn up another passage - returning from here to the surface via a tight corkscrew tube which looks a lot harder than it actually is!

After that, there was still time for one last short trip underground so, we finished the session by travelling 100m over the moor and entering Alum Pot Beck Passage by a small entrance and then ultimately returning to the surface via the aptly named Razor Entrance, all good, wet; and at times, tight fun!
The final photo from this post about Introductory Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park sees the pair on the Limestone Pavement.

Normally you would hope to see Penyghent in the distance but not today! The weather was cloudy with a cold breeze, no rain though and largely dry underground!

Mark thoroughly enjoyed his Introductory Caving Session with Poppy & Iain and looks forward to returning again - maybe to try something harder next time?

The pair paid only £90 for this half day caving session with us and the fee includes all of the equipment you see them wearing. Caving is a great way to have a real adventure and we can make it as wet and as challenging as you like (or the opposite if that's the case!) Contact us here to arrange your half or full day Caving Adventure in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. We look forward to working with you.

Friday 14 March 2014

Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.

Bookings are getting off to a good start for our 2014 Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.

Our first weekend course is running on March  29th & 30th and we already have nine confirmed persons attending.

Probably one of the main reasons for this is the fantastic value that these courses represent. For only £80 per person you get two days of tuition and maps are also provided. All you need to do is to turn up with a compass (the Silva Type 4 expedition is what we recommend), everything you would need for two days walking out in the mountains - and plenty of enthusiasm to learn new skills!

Our Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses are run in one of the Lake Districts most peaceful, pleasant and yet most accessible places.

Our meeting point is for these courses outside of Wilfs Cafe in Staveley which is very close to the A591 - one of the main roads into the southern part of The Lake District and very close to Kendal, Windermere and Ambleside. Accommodation options are considerable locally and range from reasonably priced hotels & guest houses through to nearby campsites.

Each day, we start at 9am and finish back at Staveley by 5pm giving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the hospitality that the area has to offer.

So why not book on to one of our fantastic value Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses? You'll have a great time in some of the areas most stunning surroundings, learn new skills which will give you the confidence to venture further into the areas mountains and have a great deal of fun.

These courses are suitable for anyone wishing to learn more about Map Reading & Navigation Skills - no matter what you ability might be and are great fun for couples who want to get more out of hill walking and individuals who may be aspiring to undertake Mountain Walking Leader Awards - in which case our courses are excellent as an ML Refresher prior to going for assessment or re-assessment.

We currently have only one place remaining on the March weekend and eight on the April course and the pair already booked o to that weekend will be very happy to have at least another two join them.

We do require a minimum of four persons per weekend course in order for them to run and have a number of these courses on offer throughout 2014. Details of course dates can be found by visiting the website here.

For anyone wishing to book on one of our Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses please contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Kayaking Sessions in the Lake District. Thursday 13th March 2014.

Colin Brooke came out with us for the first time exactly two weeks ago when he booked a half day Kayaking Session in The Lake District with Iain.

Colin has a forthcoming adventure race in Ireland in a few months time and, as it was some considerable time since he had last been in a kayak, he contacted us for some Kayaking Skills Training. On that particular day, Iain took him to Rydal Water.

Photo one from this post sees Colin preparing to go out on the water with us again, but this time Iain chose Windermere as the venue and this first photo was taken at Waterhead.

After Colin's previous flat water Kayaking Session on Rydal Water, Iain thought it would be good to go to a different venue and here there was the opportunity to look at more moving water skills on the Rivers Brathay & Rothay - or, as Colin has a long Kayaking journey ahead of him, go for a paddle on Windermere covering as much distance as time would allow in four hours.

Colin's preferred option was the Kayaking Journey on Windermere , conditions today were flat calm on the lake with a blanket of fog obscuring the otherwise magnificent views of the area.

We set out from Waterhead and west towards the mouth of the main river, then on via Pull Wyke Bay, Low Wray Campsite and High Wray Bay to Red Nab Car Park - one of the areas few remaining free car parks. Here, we got out of our kayaks for a few minutes to stretch our legs and get the blood flowing again.

As we continued onwards from here towards Bowness on Windermere, the fog started to burn off and the sun put in an appearance. In photo three Colin unpacks his lunch at our halfway point near Rayrigg Hall. In the distance one can see Belle Isle - Windermere's biggest island.

As we set off back towards Waterhead via Windermere's eastern shoreline, visibility continued to improve and it started to get quite warm. Iain took this photo of Colin about 3/4 of the way back and he looks happy and relaxed; although he was starting to get quite warm in the wet suit he was wearing underneath the spray deck, cagoule & buoyancy aid!

All in all, we covered approximately 13km or pretty much exactly eight miles - half of the distance Colin has to cover on his adventure race.

This was done in around three & a half hours - not including the two stops we made. Great effort Colin!

For Colin's 5 hour session with Iain he paid £100 and this included being collected and dropped off again in Kendal and then around 4 hours Kayaking on Windermere accompanied one on one with a Kayaking Coach who provided him with a kayak and everything else you see him wearing (apart from the wet suit that is!) Whilst we do not usually offer clients transport on some occasions it just make sense - particularly as we were both travelling from the same side of town.

A typical half day beginners Kayaking Session in The Lake District with us starts at just £45 for a minimum of two persons (or one person at the two person rate) and it gets cheaper as your group size increases. A half day session is typically four hours - starting at 9am or 1pm. You can specify different start or finish times to these if you wish to as we aim to be as flexible, accommodating and as helpful as we can whenever possible.

We want you to enjoy your visit to The Lake District and our motto is "Giving you what you want", book an Activity Session in The Lake District with us and we will do our best to make sure you get exactly that! We look forward to working with you in 2014.

Monday 3 March 2014

Kayaking Skills Training Sessions in The Lake District. Rydal Water. Thursday 27th February 2014.

Last Thursday, Iain found himself out on one of The Lake Districts many lakes with Colin Brooke. Colin enjoys adventure racing and is currently in preparation for such a forthcoming event in Ireland involving a 15 mile Kayaking section.

Because of this, Colin decided to book a refresher course in Kayaking. He "Googled" Kayaking Courses in The Lake District and found that Kendal Mountaineering Services offered just such courses.

A quick call to Iain confirmed that yes - he was available to work with Colin and that yes, Thursdays were convenient. This suited Colin, as most weeks, both he & his wife are in  Kendal visiting a relative on this day.

As Colin was staying literally just up the road, Iain was happy to collect him and drop him off again at the end of the session. We drove to Rydal water which Iain figured would be suitable for the aims of Colin's kayaking session, got kitted up and were on the lake by 10am. Thursday was a bright, sunny day with a few light showers in the morning and a fair breeze which sprang up on occasion - making paddling quite interesting!

We still have snow in The Lake District as you'll see in photo two. The snow covered top in the distance is High Raise which is approximately the most central fell in the Lake District National Park.

So what did we do on Rydal Water? Well, Iain started off by going back to basics, how to hold the paddle and setting up of the kayak for the paddler - important this - you have to be correctly fitted to your boat in order to paddle effectively!

Once on the water, Iain demonstrated efficient forward paddling strokes, stopping and paddling backwards and then coached Colin in order to get these strokes right! Colin's forward paddling was quite good and it was clear that he had kayaked before and had remembered some things - even if it was 30 years since he was last in a Kayak!

In photo three, Colin is practicing a more advanced kayaking stroke - the Sculling Draw. This involves holding the paddle as shown and slicing the paddle backwards & forwards down the side of the kayak always making sure that the leading edge of the paddle blade is angled slightly away from the boat. The stroke is done in line with the paddlers body which should be rotated towards the side of the craft. Doing the stroke too far forwards or backwards will translate into a turning stroke rather than a sideways movement.

We did a complete circuit of Rydal Water practicing various manoeuvres and strokes including a combination of forward & backwards paddling strokes to execute a 360 degree turn and also other turning strokes such as the Stern Rudder and Sweep Stroke.

We broke at around mid-day for some lunch and then got back on the water - practicing some moving water skills on the River Rothay where it flows into the lake before heading back on to Rydal Water to consolidate those skills already learned.

In photo four, Colin practices the Low Brace Support Stroke - useful if you think you are about to capsize! Fortunately, Colin remained upright & dry throughout our session - probably because he was very relaxed and happy about being in a kayak again.

We packed up about 2pm and headed back to town. Iain wold like to wish Colin all the best with his forthcoming adventure race and maybe we will see him again at some point for some more Kayaking or Canadian Canoeing.

For Colin's 5 hour bespoke Kayaking Skills Training Session he paid £100. This included the provision of a kayak & paddle, a wet suit (although Colin had his own), a cagoule and buoyancy aid and one on one tuition with a kayaking coach. We do not usually offer transport but on this occasion it made sense to do so and we are happy to help if & where we can. This session was slightly longer than our usual 4 hour half day session priced at £90 for a minimum of two or one persons but, we are happy to be flexible in order to ensure you get what you want!

To book your own half day Kayaking Session in The Lake District with Iain contact him here. We look forward to working with you.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Guided Winter Climbing Days in Scotland. Beinn a Chaorainn East Ridge. February 21st 2014.

Friday morning saw us start out early from Aviemore as we had over an hours drive to the days venue for Winter Climbing.

Iain had chosen the East Ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn as the venue. The reason, he figured that it would be sheltered from the strong south westerly wind due to be sweeping across the Highlands.

To get to the foot of the ridge from Loch Laggan there is a route via forest windbreak leading on to the forestry track that leads to within 500m of the ridge foot. As we gained height it was evident that there had been a considerable fall of fresh snow overnight (photo one).

Iain was joined by Neil Mackay (green jacket) to assist with providing the groups winter climbing day.

As we climbed on to the foot of the ridge, it was already becoming evident that we were not going to get the shelter Iain was hoping that Beinn a' Chaorainn would provide and that the wind was more south easterly than south westerly!

We found a place of some shelter in which get get "geared up" ie adding extra layers of clothing, getting helmets, harnesses & crampons on and having a bite to eat and drink. Due to the strong & gusty conditions, we had already decided that this would be a "guided" climbing session as the conditions were such that coaching would be almost impossible.

Neil headed off up the ridge with Bill & Jono and Iain with Bryn & Joel (photo two) who can be seen here "tucking in" as a particularly vicious blast of wind sprayed us with spindrift. Martin decided at the foot of the ridge that what we were doing was not for him and made his way back to the vehicles.

We made our way up the ridge tackling any rock buttress en route to add interest to what was basically a Guided Winter Mountaineering Day. Neil stayed out in front and made good progress with Bill & Jono despite the strong wind.

Iain followed up behind with Bryn & Joel and we climbed about five pitches. Unfortunately due to the difficult weather conditions we reached a point where both  decided they had had enough and wished to descend.

Photo three shows Joel & Bryn at our high point at about half way up the East Ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn just before we commenced to descend.

Our final photo from this winter climbing post shows the East Ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn with Bryn & Joel back at the foot of the ridge - now out of the wind. Our route had taken us up the lower part of the ridge on the left and then in order to get some shelter from the wind - up the rightward trending snow gangway on the right of the black buttress in the distance. About halfway up this gangway, we cut left back on to the crest of the ridge and turned around there reversing our route down the gangway and then heading straight down the slope below.

It had been a tough climbing winter session but Bryn & Joel had enjoyed the experience as had Bill & Jono who, with Neil, had gotten a few hundred metres higher than us before turning around. They can be seen descending in this photo - almost at the foot of the black buttress; and joined us back at the edge of the forestry plantation around 20 minutes later. Despite the early start, it is always surprising how fast these days go and it was not until about 16:45 that we all set off on the return journey to Aviemore.

This post concludes Bryn, Joel, Martin, Bill & Jono's five day winter course which consisted of a two day winter skills Training Course and a two day Winter Navigation Skills Training Course - both carried out in The Cairngorms; and a Winter Climbing Day in the Creag Meagaidh area of the Western Highlands. We had encountered unseasonably warm temperatures. large quantities of unconsolidated snow and at times, very windy conditions, yet we managed to achieve success on all three courses. All five leave with new skills having enjoyed a sustained and adventurous course in one of Scotlands best winter training grounds. The instructional cost for each person for these five days was only £290 each.

If you would like any information on our Winter Courses in Scotland then do not hesitate to contact us. Winter conditions are very much alive & well in Scotland and we are ready and able to organise your winter experience right now.

Winter Map Reading & Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Cairngorms. February 19th & 20th 2014

After our two day Winter Skills Course in The Cairngorms, we moved on to our two day Winter Navigation & Snow holing Skills Training phase of the week.

Our Winter Navigation & Snow holing Skills Training Courses usually involves a walk in to a snow holing site such as Ciste Mhearaid, or Coire Domhain learning & practicing map reading & navigation techniques along the way. On arriving at the snow holing site, hopefully, it is usually a case of clearing out & enlarging existing snow holes then settling in for the night. However, on occasion, new snow holes have to be dug from scratch, so we always arrive at the snow holing site in good time - just in case!

However, the MWIS forecast for the next day indicated storm force winds on the Cairngorm plateau meaning that we would likely be "pinned down" waiting for the wind speed to drop. So, the other option was to spend the night in Ryvoan Bothy and just have two days out on the hills.

Today had a glorious start as can be seen in photo one during our walk in to Coire Na Ciste. Blue skies, sunshine & a light breeze made up for having to tramp through difficult snow (hard crust on top, soft underneath!) We spent the day navigating from point to point as directed by Iain and the party learnt all about pacing & measuring distance and taking & walking on a bearing.

We started off by walking up the ridge between Coire Na Ciste & Coire Cas before crossing to the north ridge of Cairngorm where we encountered a strengthening wind and whiteout conditions as we approach the summit of Cnap Coire Na Spreidhe (photo two)

Everyone in the group picked up the skills taught by Iain well; and were spot on throughout the day with their accuracy. Having reached our high point of 1150m at Cnap Coire Na Spreidhe (very close to where we had been the previous day - Ciste Mhearaidh) we headed north back along the ridge and upon hitting hard ice just above Coire Laogh Mor, donned crampons before descending into the back of this coire.

It was quite an exciting descent! The back wall of Coire Laogh Mor is pretty steep and the sudden onset of whiteout conditions certainly added to the atmosphere. However, just as we reach the corrie floor the cloud lifted to reveal a beautiful sunset over Loch Morlich (photo three). After a short pause to look at a Rutschblock and Hand/Shovel Shear Test (avalanche prediction skills) here, we walked back out to the car park at Coire Na Ciste.

20 minutes later we were walking away from the vehicles at the road head by Glenmore Lodge with different rucksacks packed for our overnighter in Ryvoan Bothy. Imagine our disappointment when we arrived after walking for around 40 minutes to find it already packed with a group from a local Adventure Training Centre. About turn and back to Aviemore!

On Thursday, the weather was indeed as forecast and the usual associated "cloud cap" was in evidence on The Cairngorms. Uplift had been cancelled by Cairngorm Mountain and was apparently to remain that way all day.

We returned to the Glenmore Lodge road head with a view to staying low for the day and learning additional navigation techniques and it was as well we did! Whilst in the floor of Ryvoan Pass, we were relatively sheltered from the wind we could both see & hear roaring through the Caledonian Pines only a few hundred meters above our heads on the slopes of Meall a' Bhuachaille.

For the first hour or so, the wind was accompanied by a light drizzle (photo four) which Iain surmised was more likely to be windblown snow scoured from the plateau turning to water as it dropped below the freezing level.

On our route through Ryvoan Pass we looked at finding "tickoff features" something that had been rather absent during our previous day on the snow covered ground higher up. These included various paths and stream junctions along our linear route (the track through the pass) In doing this we were able to focus more not only on measuring distance but also pacing it accurately too.

We took a break for a brew at the now empty Ryvoan Bothy (photo five) and spent some time learning about grid references and how to find them and give one for a known location.

The group had asked for an early finish today and wished to be back at the vehicles for 2pm. After learning additional new skills today we continued out on to the open plain at the foot of Strath Nethy in order that we could put all of what had been learnt into practice. We made for  one of the many small lochans in the area (photo six) and spent some time there using the compass to identify an unknown feature from our "known location".

Following this, we made our way back to Ryvoan Bothy and commenced the walk back through the pass to the vehicles.

Photo seven is a view taken just beyond Ryvoan Bothy as we headed back towards Ryvoan Pass. Though the pass way in the distance across Glen More can be seen a snow covered Lurcher's Crag with the notch of the Chalamain Gap to its right.

On the opposite side of Lurchers Crag to this view is an excellent winter climbing venue - also called Lurcher's Crag, where Iain had been hoping to take the group the next day. By the time this photo was taken the wind speed had dropped and the wind had changed to a westerly. However, the MWIS forecast for the next day was if anything, wilder than ever with a south westerly wind gusting up to 70mph! As Lurchers faces in that direction it would be a totally unsuitable location for a teaching climbing day. We would have to use another venue other than The Cairngorms.

You can read about that day in the next post, in the meantime, if you are interested in attending one of our Navigation & Snow holing Training Courses in The Cairngorms then contact us here. This group paid only £100 each for their two day course with Iain.