Monday 31 August 2015

All day Caving Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Friday 28th August 2015.

Last Friday saw returning client Steven Finkill return again with his nephew Nathan to do another caving day with  us.

The pair had been out the previous day with one of our associate instructors Rock Climbing at both Lower & Upper Scout Crags in Langdale where they had enjoyed a quality day out!

Steven first joined us in 2012 for a Caving Day with girlfriend Sally and again in 2013 when he returned bringing Nathan with him for the first time; and also a friend of Nathan's to try out one of our Church Beck Ghyll Scrambling & Canyoning half days.

Today, for Nathan's first experience of caving; and so that Steven got to go somewhere different in part - to last time, Iain took the pair to Great Douk Cave (photo one)
Great Douk is an excellent introductory caving trip at the level one grade. Photo one sees Steven & Nathan at the entrance to the cave after we had climbed down into the tree filled "pot" where in the past, the cavern had gotten so big that the roof collapsed leaving a gaping hole.

After climbing up the entrance waterfall, the cave winds it's way onwards. We pass daylight again at Little Douk Pot and then continue upwards through a number of cascades to a point where the way on lowers to a crawl with the water. We had made it to this point the previous week with Nick & Freya Sutcliffe but there was too much water to continue onwards then. However, today, the water was low so we did the 75 metre "flat out crawl" to the hole in the roof - beyond which the now "dry" passage quickly gets higher until one emerges amongst the limestone pavement at Middle Washfold. (Photo two)
Returning to the vehicles saw the time at around mid-day already, so, we had our lunch and then set off for Long Churns again (Iain had been there with the Hickey family only two days before).

Steven had been here with Sally in 2012, but didn't mind going back; and it is a great system for introductory caving and ideal really, for Nathan.

Photo three sees the pair enjoying some exploration in a low fossil passageway just downstream of Middle Entrance in Long Churns.
We did the usual introductory Caving circuit in Long Churns. In via Middle Entrance, downstream to Double Shuffle & Plank Pools and The Slot, before both Nathan & Steven succeeded in The Cheese Press.

We returned to the surface at Diccan Pot and then went back down Middle Entrance again to visit Cross Passage before emerging in Upper Long Churns, returning to Middle Entrance to climb the entrance waterfall. We then headed all the way upstream to Doctor Bannister's Washbasin where both crawled behind the waterfall (photo four), however, today there was more water coming down the fall and Iain considered it risky to attempt it with Nathan, who, by now, was getting a bit chilly anyway!

So, we went back to Middle Entrance a fourth time - this time to head out back to the vehicles to get dry and changed. Photo five sees Nathan & Steven satisfied after yet another great day out with us and the best was yet to come!

Hot Chocolate & Cake in Inglesport!

What better way to finish a fantastic Caving Day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park!

Currently, that's us up to date with the Kendal Mountaineering Services Blog; although, by tomorrow afternoon, it will need updating again! Its been a really busy August - busy because we are good at what we do; and people see this.

We provide value for money bespoke Outdoor Activity Sessions and Skills Training Courses in The Lake District, Wales and Scotland throughout the year and we hope that the Autumn & Winter will continue to be busy - so do get in touch to enquire about the great courses & fun, adventure days we can run for you in the coming months - we look forward to working with you!

Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District. Church Beck 27th August 2015.

Lat Thursday saw the Hickey family undertake their last half day Outdoor Activity Session with us.

The family had enjoyed a session kayaking on Windermere and also, a caving trip to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. For their final session, it was to be a toss up between Abseiling or Canyoning. Iain felt they would get more out of the latter, so photo one sees Elliott, Marcus & Mick kitted up and ready to go Canyoning at Church Beck near Coniston.

So what is Canyoning? Canyoning is descending a mountain stream abseiling or being lowered down waterfalls; or jumping down waterfalls in to deep pools.

We issue the same equipment for canyoning as we do for all our Ghyll Scrambling Sessions although whilst we may not always need to use a harness when Ghyll Scrambling - you'll definitely need to use one when being lowered down a waterfall just like Mick is - in photo two!
Photo three was taken some time after we had started the Canyoning Session in Church Beck. Iain had lowered Mick, Marcus & Elliott down the waterfall seen in photo two. We had then taken a short jump down beside a waterfall in to another pool and then walked under Miners Bridge to arrive at the fall in photo three.

Iain had then lowered the trio down this fall before we headed on to the narrow ravine downstream where the "Top Jumps" are to be found.

Photo Four sees Mick about to join Iain at his stance above the "Top Jump". Many groups jump off from the boulder where Marcus is currently sat although this is in to a very narrow slot and we have seen countless people bash elbows & ankles against the walls on either side as they have plummeted into the pool below. Not good, we feel!

Your safety is foremost in our minds at all times so we do not permit this jump - instead, we rope you across to the stance from where this photo was taken and then lower you 6 feet to a point where you can safely jump into the pool below.

Below that point, there is another fall that we climb down to avoid the big rock in the bottom - swimming the pool beyond to enjoy the "Chock stone Slide" beyond that. Downstream of that, there are a waterfall that can be climbed in ascent; and a "climbing traverse" around the back of a deep pool where failure to stay on the rock results in a soaking. And lastly, we climb out of the bed of the gorge to do a high jump into the pool above the Chock stone Slide allowing us to attempt that slide one more time.

Canyoning is great exhilarating fun and costs just £45 per person for a half day (four hour) session for a minimum of two persons. You can view two previous posts to give you a flavour of what this great activity is all about here and here. Contact us here to book your canyoning experience, we look forward to working with you!

Introductory Caving Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Wednesday 26th August 2015.

Today was the second Outdoor Activity Session booked by Mick Hickey & his family who had been on an Introductory Kayaking Session In the Lake District with Iain the previous afternoon.

The family were in the area for a week long holiday and amongst other things, fancied trying out some "proper caving"- non of this show cave stuff! So, Iain took them to Long Churns in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for their Introductory Caving Session.

Photo one sees the family kitted out and ready to go in Long Churns Lane.

Long Churns is a great place to go for your first caving experience. There are over 3 kilometres of underground passageway to explore and there are all sorts of things to see and places to go.

There are a number of challenges that can be offered to people visiting this fantastic cave system; and probably, the most famous of these is "The Cheese Press". How it got it's name is anyone's guess, but basically it is a tight "flat out" crawl done only over a distance of four metres (but when you are in it - it feels like a lot longer!!) Photo two sees Elliott giving it a go; and succeeding as he emerges at the other end - well done!

We have a well "tried and tested" circuit that we do in Long Churns with novice cavers. We enter via Middle Entrance and head down stream passing Double Shuffle Pool, Plank Pool & The Slot before arriving at The Cheese Press after which we visit the head of the Dolly Tubs Pitch in Alum Pot where one can observe daylight entering from that great shaft.

We head back out to daylight via a different exit - Diccan Pot; and then if people are feeling up for it - re-enter the cave system via  the wet & low upstream entrance from Diccan Entrance to undertake further exploration of the cave system.

That further exploration includes a visit to the well decorated Cross Passage with it's infamous pool (photo three) known as "The Font". Cross Passage is also known as Baptistery Crawl and we can only guess that this name arose from explorers getting "baptized" as they were forced to duck under the flow-stone formation above The Font" although this has now been eroded by the passage of thousands of bodies passing under it - meaning that ducking is no longer necessary!

Photo four sees the family emerging from a fossil passageway in Long Churns that avoids getting excessively wet in a deep pool just to the right of Elliott's Wellies .

Within Long Churns, there are many passageways - wet ones taking the flow of Alum Pot Beck; and dry (fossil) passages where the water used to flow 15'000 years ago when the caves in the area were brimming with glacial melt-water.

The great  thing about Long Churns is that there are way around most of the difficult, wet or tight sections and that there are passageways of all sizes - so there is something for everyone to be found in this cave system. Also, there are some fantastic formations to be seen underground too - it really is well worth a visit; and a true adventure too!
Photo Five sees Robyn tackling another challenge that we offer to our clients on our Introductory Caving Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and that is the opportunity to crawl around behind the waterfall at Doctor Bannister's Washbasin.

Whoever Doctor Bannister was - he must have been a big chap as the pool that bears his name is 8 metres in diameter!

Anyway, the last challenge we generally offer people on our Long Churns Circuit is the opportunity to climb up that jet of water to get back into the sunshine on the surface - only a short distance above!

Photo six sees the Hickey Family back on the surface with Penyghent - one of the Yorkshire "3 peaks" behind. The family had all thoroughly enjoyed their caving experience underground in the Yorkshire Dales National Park - in fact, at the end of their three days with Iain, they would still be saying that caving was the best activity they tried!

Caving is great fun and we enjoy doing it as much as our clients - so you can expect us to pass that enthusiasm along to you! Caving can be done at any time of year including the Autumn & Winter - so if you want a real adventure in the coming months then contact us and book a caving session. Prices start at just £45 per person for a four hour session with all equipment you see this group wearing, included in the fee!

Introductory Kayaking Sessions in the Lake District, Tuesday 25th August 2015.

After spending the morning climbing in Langdale with Peter & Cerys McDonald, Iain had to drive to the store to pick up some kayaks before he joined Mick Hickey and his family at Fell Foot Country Park for their afternoon Introductory Kayaking Session in The Lake District.

Photo one sees the family - left to right, Robyn, Marcus, Mick & Elliott, rafted up on Windermere's southern end. We had been on the water for a couple of hours at this point, had done a short journey; and Iain had gone through all of the basic kayaking strokes with the family - most of whom had actually kayaked in the past anyway!

This was a shorter than usual Introductory Kayaking Session in The Lake District due to the time that Iain had taken to get from Langdale to Fell Foot, but we had a good time until around 5pm when the forecast rain started and the family decided that they wanted to call a close to the session.

Iain offered to make the time up during the family's subsequent caving session the next day and they were happy with that offer - we do our best to please!

Mick paid just £40 each for this Introductory Kayaking Session in The Lake District, we applied a discount due to the booking over three days for three separate half days sessions. We thought this only fair as we known how expensive it can be when having to pay for activities for the whole family out of your own pocket!

Fancy trying Kayaking? The group were provided with all of the equipment you see in photo two as part of their fee and this included tuition from a qualified Kayaking Coach too. Contact us to book your half day Outdoor Activity Session in the Lake District here. We look forward to working with you!

Introductory Rock Climbing Sessions in The Lake District, Tuesday 25th August 2015.

Last Tuesday morning Iain met newly weds Peter & Cerys McDonald who were on honeymoon in The Lake District and who fancied trying an Introductory Rock Climbing Session out of doors.

Iain met them in Langdale and we went to Lower Scout Crag for their session. Photo one sees the pair about to start climbing after Iain had set up a top rope system down the line of "Cubs Wall" in the middle of the crag.

The pair had done a small amount of rock climbing at an indoor wall previously, where the same sort of climbing systems exist - namely, a rope anchored at the top of the wall with the climber attached to one side; and the belayer attached to the other. When the climber climbs up - the belayer takes the rope in (known as "top rope - bottom belaying); and when the climber gets to the top of the route, the belayer lowers them back to the ground!

The pair were able to climb 3 different routes from our top anchor in the middle of Lower Scout Crag although whilst "Cubs Wall" & "Cubs Groove" were within their capabilities "Cubs Crack" was not as this route is very steep, polished; and nowadays, virtually hold-less! Anyway, they enjoyed climbing the other two routes whilst getting used to the feeling of exposure and how the rope would protect them if they fell off.

Around about an hour after we had started climbing, we were joined by a Cadet group who wished to abseil from the crag and who set up ropes on either side of us. Both Peter & Cerys wished to try out abseiling as well, so Iain had to convert his top anchor system into an "abseiling station" so the pair could have a go at this exhilarating & challenging experience.

Photo two sees Cerys as she starts abseiling from the top of Cubs Crack. Both had at least two goes and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Photo three sees both Cerys and Peter on a different & slightly easier section of the crag. Cerys is belaying Peter who has climbed the route to the top anchors and is now being lowered  back down to the foot of the route.

Cerys & Peter thoroughly enjoyed their morning Introductory Rock Climbing and abseiling session in The Lake District with Iain and were very satisfied with what we got done in the time.

Cerys even said we should charge more!

The pair paid just £90:00 or £45 each for their four hour Rock Climbing & Abseiling Session with us and that fee included the provision of helmets & harnesses as well as tuition by an experienced Mountaineering Instructor.

£45 is our standard starting price for any half day Outdoor Activity Session which we will run for a minimum of two persons but discounts are applied as your group size increases in multiples of five. All our half day activity sessions do represent good value for money so contact us to get a quite for any activity you find one our website that you would like to try - you won't be disappointed!

Sunday 30 August 2015

A Caving Adventure Day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park 20th August 2015.

After two days of truly fantastic Rock Climbing in The Lake District with Nick & Freya, there remained but one day to be done; and that was the pairs Caving Day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Last year, Iain had taken the pair on a foray around the Yorkshire Dales best known Introductory Caving Venue - Long Churns. Obviously, it was not appropriate to return there again so Iain came up with a plan to visit some other level one caves instead.

Firstly, as arranged last time, we met up at Inglesport in Ingleton for a "cavers breakfast" in the cafe. This classic Inglesport fry-up will set you up well for any caving day; and if any equipment is required - then Inglesport has everything for the caver and climber!

Photo one sees Freya having an explore around one of the side passages in our first cave of the day - Great Douk. Great Douk is a great little cave system which can be done as a "through trip" meaning starting at one end and finishing at another. However, after the overnight rain, the stream flowing through here was a bit on the large side; and Iain felt it would be foolish to attempt the through trip which ends in an "arduous" flat out crawl with the water!

As there was quite a bit of water around; and the weather, showery, Iain felt it prudent to keep away from caves that respond significantly to rainfall when the ground is saturated.

There are a couple of good introductory caves at nearby Ribblehead which are used by a lot of school groups. These are called Runscar & Thistle.

Iain started off by taking the pair into Thistle Cave where the water level was low; and here, there were plenty of opportunities for the pair to try squeezing through some smaller, tighter fossil passageways. Freya rose to this challenge well - unlike Nick, who, at over six feet tall was understandably reluctant to follow a relatively short Freya through such places - it looks, in photo three, (taken in Thistle Cave) as if Nick was only the same height as Freya - but don't be fooled, he is crouching down!
We traversed Thistle Cave starting at one of its downstream entrances (the cave has three different sections) and went upstream as far as we could to a big underground collapse.

Back out on the surface, we cut across to the upstream entrance of Runscar Cave and commenced to head downstream.

Runscar Cave carries a much bigger stream than that seen in Thistle Cave making it a much more "lively" place to be. On the route downstream, one emerges back into the open air twice before entering the final section, which, at it's downstream end, lowers to a crawl in the water and a tight squeeze (well - it was in Nick's case!) to get out.

In photo three, Nick is recovering from having just  completed that tight squeeze and Freya is emerging from the same place - behind him. All good challenging fun!

It was only around about 1pm and we had already put three different cave systems behind us, but, there was still time to do a few more!

Photo four sees Freya & Nick at the entrance to Yordas Cave in Kingsdale around 45 minutes later, after we had driven over from Ribblehead.

Yordas Cave is an amazingly large cavern that would hold (by Iain's reckoning) probably around 20 double decker buses. Whilst it was only a short walk around this cavern, the waterfall in a separate chamber at the uphill end of Yordas was worth a visit, as with the amount of water coming down it - it sounded & looked truly awesome!

We finished off with yet another introductory cave in Kingsdale - that being Valley Entrance (photo five).

Probably the most exciting thing about this cave is entering through a lid in the side of the hill. Today, there was quite a strong, cold breeze blowing out of the entrance. Iain surmised that it was probably due to the amount of water entering the system as Valley Entrance leads to the "main drain" into which all of the "active" caves on this western side of Kingsdale empty in to!

And today, Valley Entrance was a very wet place too! After only 50m the stooping height passageway degenerates to a small wet crawl through a canal, so we were all wet pretty quickly! Further on, we found the middle section of the cave unusually flooded to a depth of 1 metre over a distance of around 200 metres which caused Iain a little concern, but at the far end of the passage we found the usual 7 metre pitch into the Master Cave not flooded & backed up to our level; although in very wet weather - it can & does back up all the way out to the lid!

We turned around and headed out. Arriving back in the warm sunshine (and relatively "tropical" temperature compared with that underground!) it was still only 3:30pm, but Nick & Freya were happy to call it a day and head back to Inglesport for a well earned brew and slice of cake.

It had been three days of excellent adventures for this pair; and they had both thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Next year, we are talking about doing a level 2 caving trip, maybe the Esk Gorge and possibly some more Rock Climbing.

If these reports about Nick & Freya's adventures in the Lake District inspire you - then give us a call. Our adventurous activities start at just £45 per person for a half day (four hour) session and just £80 per person for a full day out. All technical equipment required for any activity is included as part of the fee and you will be looked after by our qualified and experienced staff team so you can be assured you are in safe hands! Book now! - we look forward to working with you!

Guiding a Lake District Classic Rock Climb. August 19th 2015.

This is a report about Nick & Freya's second day of Guided Rock Climbing with Iain. It has also been described on our business Facebook Page as "bagging a classic before the rain set in".

The pair had climbed so well the previous day that Iain thought the idea of a further progression - that being one of climbing a famous high mountain multi-pitch Rock Climb, was in order. Nick, at least, was keen to accept the challenge - having already heard of Bowfell Buttress.

The only thing with "high mountain classics" is that they often involve a long walk in. In photo one, Nick & Freya are on the "Climbers Traverse" path approaching the foot of our intended rock climb. It had taken us almost two hours to walk in to here covering a distance of  three & a half kilometres and this included a height gain of almost 700m! Ideally, Iain had wanted to be starting the climb at around 11am; and he hoped that we would be just about finished when the forecast rain arrived at around 3pm!

So, after that couple of hours of hard graft putting the previously mentioned "walk in" behind us, we did indeed, start on the route at around 11am. Also, on the walk in, the weather had improved in so much as the cloud had risen and we could now see the whole of our route and great views all around. Fab!

A couple of hours later and we were already halfway up the climb. Photo two was taken by Iain at the top of the crux of the climb the "slippery crack" just over halfway up the route. Again, Freya found this hard but Nick seemed to manage it with ease - good effort!

Photo three was taken by Iain an hour later at the top of "pitch six" looking down on Nick & Freya on the stance above "pitch five" (the start of which was the slippery crack).

So far, the weather had held off and the route had remained mostly dry (important when guiding on a multi-pitch mountain route of "Hard Severe" in standard!). There is little point in climbing on Lake District rock when it is wet as with the lichen and slime which tends to grow on the rock in the mountains; once wetted, the rock becomes very slippery indeed; and makes rock climbing a dangerous proposition!

Above this stance, there remained only one pitch; and that was a well vegetated, but relatively straightforward chimney. As Iain set off up this, it began to feel more like the forecast rain was approaching as sporadic bursts of light rain were increasing in frequency & volume. It looked like we had got our timings spot on!

The final photo from this post about guiding Rock Climbing on a high mountain Lake District classic rock climb finds Nick & Freya ensconced on a safe grassy area about 20 metres above the top of the climb and pulling in the ropes as Iain scrambled up the grass towards them.

At this point we took off our helmets & harnesses and untied from the ropes, the time was around 3pm.

As we got to the top of the buttress and started the walk across to Bowfell summit, the rain started to lash down, so, as previously mentioned, our timings couldn't have been better! The pair were extremely satisfied with what had been a demanding day both physically - in terms of the sheer graft required to get to the foot of the route; and the technical ability required to climb the hardest bits of it. We were off and back at our vehicles at the Old Dungeon Ghyll by 5pm.

This was a technically demanding guided Rock Climbing Day organised by an experienced Mountaineering Instructor; and the cost was £80 per person (minimum of two persons) for this full day out. If you would like to experience the thrill of climbing a high mountain Lake District Classic Rock Climb then contact Iain here to arrange your day out. We look forward to working with you!!

A guided Rock Climbing Day in The Lake District. August 18th 2015.

During August last year, we were joined by Nick Sutcliffe  and his daughter Freya who were visiting the area and fancied trying out some outdoor activities in The Lake District. On that occasion, Nick had found our website and had booked three activity sessions with us - a full day of climbing; and a half day of Ghyll Scrambling and Caving.

Returning to the area once more, the pair had clearly enjoyed their experience with us last year and had booked again - this time for three whole days out. Two of Guided Rock Climbing in The Lake District and one of Caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Iain met the pair in Great Langdale for their first climbing day; and as they had been climbing in the area before, took them to a different venue - this time, Raven Crag behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Photo one sees Freya and Nick on the big ledge atop the first pitch of Middlefell Buttress - one of the areas most popular multi-pitch rock climbs and a pleasant way to start the day out!

Photo two sees both Nick and Freya a little while later approaching Iain at the top of the middle section of Middlefell Buttress. To get to here, we had already climbed three pitches, with the third being the steepest (the crux) of the climb.

Both had managed all pitches no problem although Nick was encountering difficulty; on occasion; in getting out Iain's well places anchors. They were well placed for a reason of course!

The ground in photo two is really only scrambling terrain with the steeper rock climbing below; although the whole route makes for a very pleasant multi-pitch rock climbing experience being graded "Diff" which under the UK grading scheme actually means it is very easy.

Above here, there was one additional pitch to be climbed - Curtain Wall, also graded at "Diff"; and a nice finish to a great Lake District multi-pitch rock climb!

After lunch we moved from  Middlefell Buttress across under the front of Raven Crag to its right hand foot to tackle a route called Savernake.

Described in the Fell & Rock Climbing Club Guidebook as "A pleasant route weaving the easiest way up this part of the crag" and graded at "Severe" with a technical difficulty grading of 4a, Iain thought this  would be a reasonable progression for Freya & Nick who has led on rock in the past.

The first pitch was easy enough - climbing up alongside a deep cleft to a good stance. The second pitch (allegedly the crux!) was more exciting (photo three) and involved climbing a chimney which gets steeper towards it's top. Freya found this quite challenging, but Dad - being considerably taller, fairly romped up the pitch!

The final pitch of Savernake is every bit as exciting as the previous pitch weaving a line rightwards up a ramp before one moves precariously out left on "thin" holds to a shallow scoop where the climb continues up a detached block to a spacious ledge from which projects a large Oak Tree complete with "Ab Tat".

So what is "Ab Tat"? See the loops to which everything is attached in the top left hand of photo five - this is old climbing rope or slings or prussik cord which has been cut and tied into a continuous loop into which one can attach ones-self, provided you checked it for integrity!! Iain had done so and decided that it was suitable - not only for belaying (safeguarding the pair with) whilst they climbed the final pitch of Savernake, but that it would also be idea for a great finale: and that would be to abseil down on our twin 60m ropes to the foot of the crag!

As can be seen in the photo, Iain arranged the ropes in a "Stacked Abseil" configuration (that is to say that everyone else is already attached to the abseil ropes for safety and ready to go); and then he set off down - closely followed in order by Nick and Freya.

We all reached the foot of the crag about 4:15pm - just as the rain started. An ideal time to finish then!

The pair had enjoyed being guided on two routes today and had done a total of seven pitches of climbing during the day. True they had been stretched  by the second route and no doubt they had also been exhilarated by the "big" abseil at the end. It had definitely been a quality guided climbing day though.

Nick had paid the equivalent of £80.00 each for himself & Freya for this Guided Rock Climbing Day in The Lake District with an experienced Mountaineering Instructor. We think this is excellent value for money and a great experience!

If you would like to experience a similar Guided Rock Climbing Day in The Lake District or would like to learn the skills to go Multi-pitch Rock Climbing yourself, then the cost is the same - £80 per person (minimum of two persons or 1 person@ £160:00). Contact Iain here to book your climbing course. We look forward to working with you!

Gorge Walking Sessions in The Lake District 22nd August 2015.

On Saturday August 22, Iain met Lucy Howell and her mates in Kendal at Morrisons Car Park in Kendal. This group were staying In kendal over the weekend and had booked a half day Ghyll Scrambling (also known as Gorge Walking) Session in The Lake District with us. They had specifically requested somewhere near to Kendal; and we do use a great venue that is close to hand saving us all driving into the middle of a busy Lake District National Park.

In order to use this venue, your group size most be no more than six persons as to get there, a short Land Rover drive is required; and we only have room for six clients in our vehicle!

Photo one sees the group getting re-hydrated in the ghyll. Initially, as the water soaks into the wet-suits, you'll feel rather chilly - but only for a moment! Once your body warms that water up, then you'll appreciate why we give all our clients wetsuits, no-one felt cold for the rest of the afternoon!

Photo two sees Lucy's group with her at the front followed by Sarah, Aaron, Mike, Jenna and Mike Lawson - whose birthday was being celebrated over the weekend. Ghyll Scrambling is all about having fun, scrambling upstream against the current, climbing up waterfalls and swimming through/jumping into pools. As you can see they were all loving it!

Photo three was taken sometime later in a section of the gorge known as Cleft Ghyll. Here, a high waterfall crashes into a narrow slot making this section impassible except in descent. Someone had "bolted" the entire gorge making it suitable for a canyoning descent and as soon as we have reconnoitered it, we will begin offering Canyoning Descents here to small groups.

To get to this point, we had only travelled about a kilometre from our get in, but we had already spent several hours in the water - making our way upstream, encountering numerous obstacles along the way - many small waterfalls and rapids that we had to figure out how to get up and a deep pool to swim through and climb out the back of (well, rather - get hauled out of by Iain!!) and two fantastic deep pools to jump into.

The group had already enjoyed a great deal of fun so far; and after we climbed out to bypass Cleft Ghyll there was still another section to finish off with!

So why should you come Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking in The Lake District with us? Well, it will most likely be something that you have never done before; and would never think of doing. Getting into a  mountain stream, getting soaked and walking up it!! Sounds like a daft idea! But in actual fact, managed in the right way, by one of our expert instructors - you'll have a great time and won't feel uncomfortable with the equipment we give you. This includes wet suits, walking boots, buoyancy aids, helmets & harnesses, all of which is designed to keep you safe & comfortable in this environment - and all provided as part of your fee per person!

You'll work together with the rest of your team and with our Ghyll Scrambling Instructors to make progress upstream tacking obstacles that you didn't think you'd have the capability to overcome; and above all - you'll have great fun.

Our Ghyll Scrambling Sessions are great fun for groups of mates on Stag or Hen Events, families wanting to try something different - kids love it! We also have a corporate client who uses these sessions as an icebreaker for new groups of apprentices joining their company; and it works so well they have been coming back to us for the last five years!

Our Ghyll Scrambling (Gorge Walking) Sessions in The Lake District start at £45 per person for a four hour session, bring more than five persons that price drops to £40, a group of eleven to fifteen persons costs £35 each and sixteen or over - £30 each making it excellent value for a fantastic, fun and exhilarating experience in the great outdoors. Contact us here to book your Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking Session - anywhere you are staying in The Lake District and you won't be disappointed!

Monday 24 August 2015

Navigation Skills Training Day and overnight Wild Camping in The Lake District. 15th & 16th August 2015.

Iain was joined by Nick Charles on the morning of August 15th. Nick had driven up from The Wirral to join Iain for one whole day and a night in the Lake District Mountains.

This booking originally came about through Nick's wife having searched the internet looking for a Christmas Gift with a difference. She found our website and bought one of our Gift Certificates as a present. If anyone is looking for a gift idea with a difference then our certificates for activities and skills training Courses in the outdoors are the perfect idea!!

So what did we get up to on Nicks 24 hour course. Well, we jumped into the Land Rover and took a high road to get us into an area where we wouldn't have so far to walk to get to a peaceful & relatively unknown wild camping place. Photo one sees Nick on the walk in to the camp site and photo two was taken shortly after we had reached the area, found a nice dry patch of ground next to the stream; and pitched our tents.

What did we do for the rest of the day? Well - read on!

Having pitched camp; and gotten some early lunch, basically the rest of the afternoon was organised as a one day Navigation Skills Training Session for Nick who already possessed  reasonable Map Reading & Navigational Skills ability but who needed to polish these skills up.

We started as we often do by discussing map orientation; and then measuring distance and pacing it on the ground. We actually started doing this when we left the Land Rover and not after camp had been set up; and Nick did quite a good job of getting us to the designated camping area.

After a recap about the importance of being to locate or give a Grid Reference, Iain set Nick off to find grid references through a combination of finding a bearing, pacing the distance and using line of sight features for accuracy. We spent the rest of the afternoon navigating our way around a section of the Kentmere Horseshoe (photo three) before arriving back at camp at about 5:30pm

Photo four sees Nick enjoying a bit of supper at our campsite. The weather during the day had been a bit mixed and possibly a bit wetter than forecast but Nick had done well at the tasks set for him during our Lake District Mountain Navigation Skills Training Day. All that remain to do now was to enjoy a night of peace and solitude in the mountains at our camping spot.

Iain had a wander around the locality in the early evening as he often likes to do when wild camping whilst Nick had a snooze!

Nearby, a lot of tree planting has been done thanks to to EU reforestation initiative and it is good to see areas fenced off containing a good range of indigenous broad leaved trees which, if the sheep can be kept out - may well see the area return to a degree to the way it looked before man chopped down all of the trees. How many people are aware that The Lake District's mountains used to be well wooded up to a height of 1700 feet!!

Eventually, as it started to get dark, we both headed into our respective tents to spend a peaceful night before being woken by the light in the morning. Having struck camp, returned to the Land Rover and then reversed our route to Kendal, Nick was on his way back to The Wirral by 09:30 on Sunday having thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

This Navigation Skills Training day plus an overnight camp in the Lake District mountains is an example of one of our "bespoke" courses - tailored to the clients requirements. Our motto is "Giving you what you want" and we will do our best to arrange any outdoor experience required - no matter how unusual it might be!

If it can be done - we will do it! So, contact us to arrange your bespoke activity course or Skills Training Course  in The Lake District. We are here to help and look forward to working with you.

More comments and photos relating to this course can be found on our Facebook page here.

Andy Stratton's Guided Scrambling Course in The Lake District. Thursday 13th August 2015 - Day two.

After a great day out learning scrambling skills and trying out all three grades of scramble the previous day, Iain was back out the following morning for Andy's second day of Guided Scrambling in The Lake District.

Andy liked the idea of Iain's plan to pretty much scramble all the way from the floor of the Langdale Valley to the summit of Harrison Stickle - the highest summit in the group of peaks known as The Langdale Pikes.

In order to do this, we started off scrambling five minutes walk away from the National Trust Car Park at The Sticklebarn Tavern on a route known as Pike How (grade 2).

This route starts off with an interesting scramble up two buttresses low down on the ridge before a bit of a walk leads to the final summit buttress of Pike How. Wherever possible, Iain added more interesting ways up these buttresses to make sure Andy got some quality scrambling experience.

Photo one was taken about 10am and sees Andy at the top of the lowest buttress on Pike How. Photo two sees Andy some three hours later as we approached South Central Buttress - our second scramble of the day and the direct approach to the summit of Harrison Stickle up its most interesting ground.

South central buttress is a grade 3 scramble, so therefore, it is steep and committing. Scrambles at this grade are almost rock climbs, so Iain was required to"pitch" the route in about 4 sections.
The first part of South Central Buttress goes up the white rocks (above & to the right of Andy's head in photo two) to a big grassy ledge. The route above here goes up a pyramid of rock which steepens & tapers towards its top - at which point one follows  the line of a steep groove leading up right (the crux).

Above here, one arrives on a bilberry ledge where the usual route goes down right, around a corner; and then leftwards up another steep groove to arrive on a buttress top. However, another line goes straight up from the bilberry ledge (the direct finish) to arrive pretty much at the same point on the top of the aforementioned buttress. From here, the normal route goes around the corner to the right and back up left, we took a more interesting line and a steeper route straight up the short wall above. Photo three sees Andy as he appears over the top of that final wall - having climbed the whole route very well indeed!
We reached the summit of Harrison Stickle at around 2:30pm so that left us time to do a third route in descent. We traversed round from Harrison Stickle, across under Thunacar Knott to reach the head of Jack's Rake on the south face of Pavey Ark.

Jack's Rake is well known as the Lake District's most famous scrambling route and it takes a fine rising line up the front of Pavey Ark. Graded one, Iain personally thinks it is under-graded as many people get caught out on the initial section which starts off as easy scrambling in a comforting groove, however, at the top of this section, the route steepens and what is left of the groove becomes difficult forcing people out left on to what are often wet & slippery rocks where a slip will see a person plummet several hundred feet to the foot of the face! Above here, the route levels off and apart from a couple of difficult steps, becomes much more straightforward. Photo four sees Andy as we headed down the upper section of the route. Stickle Tarn is below in the distance.

The final photo about this post regarding the second of two days of Guided Scrambling in The Lake District sees Andy at the foot of Pavey Ark after another fine day out.

During his two days of Guided Scrambling with Iain, Andy got to enjoy some exposure on some of the areas best scrambling routes to be had in The Lake District. His two days cost him only £160 per day to work one on one with an experience Mountaineering Instructor. The fee of £160 per day applies to one or two persons.

Andy thoroughly enjoyed his Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District and you can read his comment on our testimonials page. If you would like to book your own guided or Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District with us then contact us here. We look forward to working with you!

Wednesday 12 August 2015

A busy August for Kendal Mountaineering Services. August 5th - 13th 2015.

Sorry - we have not posted now for over a week!

We are VERY busy at Kendal Mountaineering Services at present and Iain has to do all of the work. Getting back after a days graft providing exceptional sessions for clients and then blogging about it the same day is proving a little too much at the moment.

So, here are a selection of photos from our best moments over the last week - enjoy; and when Iain has time he will fill in the blank spaces beside the photos where you would normally read what he has been up to and with whom.

We are updating our Facebook page daily so please go there if you are interested in a short version of each days activity - with lots of photos.

Contact us here if you wish to enquire about; or make a booking for; an activity session or skills Training Course - thank you and we look forward to working with you!

OK - so what have we been up to of late? Well, on August 5th, Iain was working in Yorkshire on behalf of Verticalair/Live for Today Adventures to provide some activities for delightful children from all over Europe and the Middle East who come to the UK under the umbrella of an organisation called Village Camps who then contract us in to provide some outdoor activities for the group as the pass through Yorkshire on their tour of the UK.

The first photo from this post sees the group enjoying some introductory Rock Climbing at at Brimham Rocks. The climbing is easy and is an ideal way to be challenged whilst learning to trust and work with others in your group. We run a lot of Introductory Rock Climbing Sessions here in The Lake District too!

Photo two sees Iain's group jut after they had all abseiled off the bridge at Howstean Gorge (again in Yorkshire) into the bed of the gorge to start their Ghyll Scrambling (also known as Gorge Walking) Session.

Ghyll Scrambling/Gorge Walking Sessions are great fun. We give our clients wetsuits, cagoules buoyancy aids and walking boots and then we get into a stream and walk up it - swimming & splashing through pools, climbing up waterfalls. This is a great fun exhilarating activity and kids just love it making it ideal for a half day of fun during your Summer Holiday.

In Howstean Gorge, there are also a number of small caves - so there is the opportunity for caving too as in photo three. Climbing, Abseiling, Gorge Walking & Caving; and all in one day! Don't forget - you can also do all of these fantastic activities with us here in The Lake District too!

Our next photo was taken during a half day Introductory Caving Session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park the following day with Marcus & Emma.

The pair were on holiday in the area and wanted to try something different, looked for caving; and up came our website.

Iain took them for an action packed afternoon in Long Churns and the pair absolutely loved it. You can see more photos from this session on our Facebook page - at only £45 each for a four hour session with all equipment included - this caving session was a bargain!

On Saturday 8th August, Iain was joined by returning clients Bob Bettinson & his son Paul.

The pair have done an activity day with us about this time each of the previous 3 years. The first adventure was an Esk Gorge Trip, the next time was Canadian Canoeing and a river Journey on the Derwentwater & River Derwent near Keswick and last year, a rather hardcore day out doing a Kayak journey on the River Lune.

This time, Bob had decided that he wanted to climb the Lake District's highest mountain - Scafell Pike, so he booked a Guided Hill Walking Day in The Lake District with us. This photo sees Iain (left) with the pair at the summit of Scafell Pike on a perfect day. You can read a bit more about this day and see some more photos here.
The next day, Iain started out at Fell Foot Country Park at Windermere with Mark & Robbie Wight.

Robbie will shortly be going on a residential week shortly after starting the Autumn Term at his school and Dad - Mark wanted him to get some experience of the activities that will be on offer during that week.

We spent a rather misty murky & drizzly morning on Windermere improving Robbie's confidence to paddle a Kayak on his own. He definitely enjoyed himself!
Mark had booked a two session day for himself & Robbie, the other activity was Ghyll Scrambling. Ghyll Scrambling or Gorge Walking is, as previously described, getting into a wet-suit, putting on walking boots and wearing a cagoule, buoyancy aid & helmet and harness then getting into a mountain stream and walking up it.

Kids just love Ghyll Scrambling and we reckon that this is one of the best things that we provide in the Summer months. It is also extremely popular with Stag & Hen Parties too!

As Mark & Robbie also lived in Kendal (our home town), Iain decided that there was no need to travel all the way to Langdale to go in Stickle Ghyll, but that we would use a local venue to be found just north of town. When we got there, we discovered that the overnight rain had brought the water levels up somewhat so we drove up the road to the point where the stream splits and the volume of the flow basically halves. Here, Robbie was much happier to get in and have a splash around.

The next photo sees Mark & Robbie back at the Land Rover after the pair's Ghyll Scrambling Session, getting changed and having a hot drink before we loaded up and headed back down the steep dirt track into the valley & back to Kendal.

We have used this reliable vehicle quite a few times recently to get into places that would otherwise be a long walk in - it is all part of the service.

Anyone coming across the company leaflet will see that it states on the back "Giving you what you want". As a business providing high quality Outdoor Activity Sessions & Skills Training Courses in The Lake District, it is our intention, wherever possible, to exceed your expectations and provide a value for money service. We are not the cheapest provider in The Lake District, but we don't cut corners and we will go the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction; and even if your request is unusual, we will do it - if it is possible; and safe!

We went the extra mile the next day with returning clients Alex & Elena Gerko. Alex & Elena had previously attended one of our Scrambling Skills Training Courses in The Lake District two years previously. On this visit to the area, the pair were celebrating their 5th Wedding Anniversary and as part of that weekend wanted to climb Scafell Pike.

Unfortunately, the weather was particularly poor on this day as you'll see in this report, but Iain got them to the summit and back to Borrowdale; and then drove them all the way to Oxenholme Station in order that they could get an earlier train back to London. So there you go - Outdoor Activity Provider: and Taxi service too; all for on this occasion, a very reasonable fee of £160.00!

And the last report in this potted history of what we've been up to between the 5th & 13th of August concerns the first of Iain's two days out with Andy Stratton from Dorset.

Andy had travelled up to The Lake District to do some walking and had fancied the idea of trying out some Guided Scrambling.

Iain is a Mountaineering Instructor, so he is appropriately qualified to provide this and a range of other mountaineering & Rock Climbing Courses.

Scrambling can best be described as a "crossover" between Rock Climbing and Hill Walking. Scrambling is a great way to get to the summit of mountains by routes avoided by the crowds; and if you want some peace & tranquility as well as the exhilaration of moving up an exposed rocky crest or buttress, then scrambling is a skill you really want to learn! On day one, Andy spent the day doing just that - learning! And here he is practicing how to deal with climbing equipment that needs to be carried.

We spent the morning of the first day of Andy's Guided Scrambling Course in The Lake District learning the skills of Spotting (how to safeguard each other on easy scrambling ground without the use of a rope) short roping (how to use the rope when a slip could turn into something more serious) and then the application of various belaying techniques that can be applied when one wishes or feels the need to add extra security to rope-working skills.

In the afternoon, Iain guided Andy on a grade II scramble so that he could observe all that he had been taught being put into practice; and then we finished off with a grade III scramble so that Andy could see what ground of this nature is all about.

The final photo from this post sees Andy about to "top out" on this pleasant route - on dry rock and in sunshine. Ideal conditions for Scrambling in The Lake District!

If you have enjoyed reading this mega-post about our recent activities in August and like the look of anything you see, then contact us here to make your enquiry or booking for a great Outdoor Activity Session or Skills Training Course in The Lake District. We'll be happy to help you.