Wednesday 21 September 2016

The Cuillin Ridge Traverse, May 7th - 14th, 2016. Trip report.

Well, May & June were just such busy months for us here at Kendal Mountaineering Services that there is a massive "hole" in our Blog Reports for that period. It did all get reported on our Facebook page though and we are trying to catch up on the blogging!

On Skye, we enjoyed the best weather since May 2008 enjoying wall to wall sunshine for the entire time we were there. We were down to three persons on this trip (left to right - Darren, Jim & Joanna) seen in Glen Brittle on the start of day one.
Read the report and see more photos from day one on Facebook here.

One day one, we managed to traverse from Sgurr Nan Eag, via Sgurr Dubh Mor to Sgurr Alasdair - so that was a considerable section of the Cuillin Ridge completed; and three Munro Summits bagged on our first day out.

We did continue on to Sgurr Thearlaich with the intention of carrying on to Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, but the rather large amount of snow on the north side of the ridge prevented us doing so. However, we reached the summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich on day two as well as the In Pinn seen in photo two and Sgurr Na Banachdich. So - another three Munro summits achieved; and another great day on the ridge on our second day out, but damn! it was hot! apparently the hottest May day in Glen Brittle since records began.

Read the Facebook report from day two and see more photos here.

Sadly, Darren had to leave us on the evening of the second day. It had been a very short second visit for him to Skye (he joined us on the May 2015 trip) but we do hope we will see him here again.

The next day, we chose to take a day off as the forecast was looking set to continue hot & sunny for the rest of the week. We had a lie in, then took a run into Portree for breakfast and then drove over the middle of the island back to Struan and on to Carbost.

That afternoon, Joanna took a walk around the Minginish coastline and Iain had a walk locally. Jim just relaxed at the cottage in the sun with a bottle of wine!

The following day - day three of our time on the Cuillin Ridge, we did the Coire a' Ghreadaidh Horseshoe and along the way, climbed Sgurr Thuilm and scrambled up the west ridge of Sgurr a' Mhadaidh - both firsts for Iain. The continuation over Sgurrs a Mhadaidh & a' Ghreadaidh was fantastic and relatively straightforward in the dry conditions - good news as this section is one of the ridge's trickiest sections!

Read a more in depth report and see more photos from this fantastic day out here.

On our final day of our Cuillin Ridge Traverse, we did the northern section of the ridge from the Sligachan Hotel - up the South East Ridge to the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean (photo four), down the West Ridge and up on to Am Basteir. From here, we retraced our steps to the Bealach a' Basteir dropping down under Am Bastier and up again to reach the Bealach Nan Lice before taking the easy ridge up to the summit of Bruach Na Frithe.

We encountered a lot of snow on this part of the ridge in Coire a' Basteir and in Fionn Coire necessitating the use of an ice axe and winter skills techniques, but it was another truly fantastic day. Read the report from this great day here
There are no reports about our final day on Skye, but again, we took it easy. Joanna went off for another walk, Iain & Jim went off for a bit of a drive around Skye.

The first place we went to were the Fairy Pools in Coire Na Creiche. (photo five)

Coire Na Creiche is basically the head of Glen Brittle - the valley which bounds the west side of The Cuillin Ridge. Here, the River Brittle flows down through a small gorge in which there are a series of very pretty waterfalls; and pools. The pool in this photograph is of particular interest as in it there is a rock arch - partially submerged. No doubt this is a great place for a swim & the challenge would be to dive down & swim through that arch - Iain wasn't up for it today though!
We drove back to Carbost and then on to the A863 heading north towards Dunvegan.

Dunvegan itself doesn't really have a lot to offer tourists, but Dunvegan Castle is certainly worth a visit if you are in the area - the gardens are beautiful as of course is the rest of Skye at this time of year!

However, a drive over via Glendale to Neist Point (photo six) is well worth doing if you get this far. The drive over the mountain pass is scenic and Glendale is a surprisingly large community with a shop, community centre and several cafes. The walk to the lighthouse at Neist Point is breathtakingly beautiful..the views across The Minch to Beinn Mhor & Hecla on South Uist are just amazing and there is rock climbing galore here if you fancy it.

Skye is a bewitching place, an amazing landscape and the nearest that the UK has to an Alpine ridge in this country. If you've been once, you'll want to go back...for many reasons!

And we will continue to go for as long as we are able; and in doing so, take great pleasure in introducing our clients to all that this amazing island has to offer....

The dates of our next visit to Skye to traverse the Cuillin Ridge are as follows.

May 6th to 13th and May 13th to the 20th. Saturday to Saturday both weeks, seven nights self catering accommodation and four days of guiding on the Cuillins with Iain - an experienced Mountaineering Instructor with extensive knowledge of The Cuillin Ridge. The cost will remain at £450 per person for the week.

Contact us now to book your place on these amazing trips to Skye. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Lake District National Park Authority - Hands off our free Parking!! Walna Scar Car Park under threat!

For many years, locals and visitors to The Lake District have been able to enjoy free parking in a most convenient place ie right on the edge of the Coniston Fells at Walna Scar Car Park.

One of the great things about this free parking area is that it reduces the congestion that would otherwise exist in Coniston and not only that - it removes the need to walk up a mile from Coniston Village and endure the ascent of 167 m (550) required to get there - now that's a very welcome thought if you are planning to go walking or scrambling on the Coniston Fells; or climbing at Dow Crag!

However, it has come to our attention that the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) now have their sights on the Walna Scar Car Park. The Lake District National Park Authority can only be regarded as anything but "the friend of the motorist as they have systematically converted as many free car parks to pay and display as they have been able to over the years. Take Coniston Village for example where the Lake District National Park Authority already control the three main car parks - at The Old Station Car Park on Station road (just off the Walna Scar Road) at the Coniston Boating Centre adjacent to the steamer pier; and in the village centre on the  Hawkshead Road.

Parking fees are enforced at the latter two car parks in Coniston Village through Number Plate Recognition Cameras administered on behalf on The Lake District National Park Authority by Park With Ease.This company was brought in recently by The Lake District National Park Authority after they had terminated their highly unpopular arrangement with the private parking company Parking Eye who were well known for issuing ludicrous and grossly unfair parking charge notices to visitors to The Lake District who had failed to pay parking fees in LDNPA administered car parks. The fact that the Lake District National Park Authority chose to endorse the use of such a system in The Lake district speaks volumes about their ethics doesn't it! The Lake District National Park Authority appears to regard motorists purely as sacks of cash!!

You would think that The Lake District National Park Authority might be satisfied already administering the three main car parks in Coniston Village as well as many others nearby, but clearly not!

Now, do YOU want to see the same sort of thing happen at Walna Scar Car Park? If not, then you need to act now!

The Lake District National Park Authority have listed the planning application online and within it, set out that they intend to turn the Walna Scar Car Park into a 58 bay "Pay & display" Car Park.

You can access the planning application here and either email the case officer Mairi Lock or write to her at

Planning Department,
Lake District National Park Authority,
Murley Moss,
Oxenholme Road,

For the sake of all of us - locals and tourists alike - please express your objection to this planning development to The Lake District National Park Authority in the strongest terms possible!.

You need to act immediately!

Do nothing; and watch this
Become this!

Navigation Skills Training Weekends in The Lake District. 17th & 18th September 2016.

Last weekend, Iain was joined by Simon Walker and his friends Jon & Mark for one of our two day Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District.

The weather forecast was good, so we followed the usual course format. The three were staying at the Eagle & Child Inn in Staveley, so, Iain picked them up from there and we drove the short distance to Hall Lane (photo one) where we started the course by discussing map scales, the importance of orientating the map, measuring distance on the map and then pacing it on the ground and locating "tick off" features.

We made our way along the bridleway beyond Park House; and had lunch at a convenient bridleway crossroads where Iain introduced the concept of grid references which are used to find locations on maps.

In a very short space of time, the three were able to find eight figure grid references, so Iain set them the challenge of spending the rest of the day doing exactly that! In-between grid references, the guys were expected to walk on a compass bearing - giving Iain their bearings and also a distance before they were permitted to set off as in photo two.

At about 4pm, we spent some time discussing Naithsmith's Rule to add a timing element to their Navigation Skills toolbox before heading back to Staveley. A pint in the sun at the Hawkshead Brewery made for a good end to a great first day!

On day two, Iain collected the guys at the slightly later time of 09:30 allowing them to get their breakfast before they started the course.

We drove further up the valley to park above Kentmere Village and set off along the bridleway leading to Sadgill in Longsleddale. Today, we started with cloud down to around 500 metres with a forecast that was set to worsen towards the end of the day. Photo three sees the group walking on to find an insignificant stream head indicated on the map - proper Mountain Walking Leader standard Navigation skills! They did, of course, find it! Well done!

Photo four sees Mark, Simon & Jon sometime later on quite a steep slope below the summit of Shipman Knotts above Sadgill in the Longsleddale Valley.

After finding our stream head we had then gone on to find an enclosure at a wall junction and then Iain asked the group to take him to "point 587" ie the summit of Shipman Knotts.

This was not easy - walking on a bearing and pacing on steep & rough ground and at the point in photo four, Iain had stopped the lads and asked then where they thought they were on their route. At this point, there was a broad ledge on what was an otherwise steep slope. All three picked this out on the map as being an area where the contour lines were briefly spaced further apart. Well done lads, good skills!

We also spent some time transposing between the 1:25'000 scale map we were largely working with on to the 1:50'000 map which allowed us to identify features further east that were visible on the 1:50k map but "off" the edge of the 1:25k map we had. Again the lads were successful in finding features on the smaller scale map, good skills again!

We made our way from the summit of Shipman Knotts towards Kentmere Pike - travelling from one stream head to another; and then we went directly for the summit of Kentmere Pike (731 m).

On this leg we hit the cloud at around 625 metres, so the lads really had to concentrate on getting their pacings right and walking on that bearing. They hit the summit of Kentmere Pike pretty much spot on on both accounts - well done!

We did a further two legs in the mist - one of 625 metres (photo five) and one of 750 metres. On both occasions, the lads hit the grid references at the end of these longer legs spot on! Following this, as time was getting on; and the weather was clearly worsening, we located; and then descended by a footpath directly to Hallow Bank and back to the Land Rover.

This weekend Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District with Simon, Mark & Jon had gone exceptionally well and we wish them the very best with their future forays into the mountains.

Our Navigation Skills Training Weekends in The Lake District cost just £80 per person (minimum group size of four) or you can book your own bespoke Navigation Skills Training Course (group size 1- 4) for just £160 per day. Maps are provided as part of the fee. These courses are ideal for anyone wishing to learn to navigate in the UK's mountains in Summer conditions and are ideal for anyone looking for an ML style Navigation Refresher Day prior to attending a Summer Mountain Walking Leader Assessment or re-assessment.

Contact us here to book your Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District. We look forward to working with you!

Monday 19 September 2016

Guiding the "Lakes 4". Seathwaite to Wythburn. Wednesday 14th September 2016

Last Wednesday, Iain had a long day out working for Hayley Webb Mountain Adventures assisting Sarah Abell with the challenge she had set for herself which was to complete the "Lakes 4" Challenge. Iain met Hayley & Sarah at Seathwaite at 07:15 to take over from Hayley after she had guided Sarah from Keswick up Skiddaw; and then back to Keswick before travelling onwards up Borrowdale.

The pair had started at 11:30 the previous evening and walked overnight. Photo one, taken at 09:00, looks back from Styhead Gill into Borrowdale which was still under a cloud inversion at the time. It looked like it was going to be a seriously pleasant day for us after the previous evening's rain & thunderstorms.

We left Hayley at 08:15 after an hours stop to breakfast on pastries, cake, tea and even a Bacon Butty. Hayley was then going to bed before meeting us again at an pre-estimated arrival time of 4:30 - 5pm at the foot of Wythburn near to Thirlmere.

Iain & Sarah made good progress to Styhead Tarn in calm, warm, weather which, once above the inversion, was also very clear & sunny. We reached Lingmell Col shortly after 11pm and then descended slightly on the Wastwater side before cutting across under Pikes Crag towards Scafell (photo two) where our route would be up Lord's Rake (right from the top of the scree fan) and then up Deep Gill which is the gully shooting up diagonally right above.

Photo three sees an elated Sarah an hour later after we had done our ascent of the route previously mentioned.

Getting up the scree fan proved not to be too arduous as a good path zig-zags up almost to Lords Rake. However, Lord's Rake itself proved to be something of a treadmill as there was a lot of loose scree in the bed of the fault. We managed to avoid most of it by sticking to the side of the gully; and soon reached the point where our route swung up left above Deep Gill on to West Walls Traverse.

West Walls Traverse takes firstly, a groove; and then follows a ledge above leading into, the upper part of Deep Gill. This route is finished as a scramble up the bed of the gill to emerge on the summit plateau of Scafell. From there it was only a five minute walk to the top of Sarah's second Lakes 3000'er. The views all around were stunning; and the time 12:15.

We had a brief stop on Scafell Summit, but there wasn't really time to hang about, we had only travelled around a third of the total distance to go at that point so we were going to have to crack on if we were going to make Wythburn by our ETA.

We'd ascended Scafell by one of its shortest routes; and now, we had to descend & then climb up on to Scafell Pike. Being able to descend straight to Mickledore would have been great; and the least height loss/shortest route (480 m distance + 115 m descent) if it were not for the notorious Broad Stand being in the way. So we had to go via Foxes Tarn (photo four) and then descend further before climbing back up under Scafell Crag to Mickledore (1.2 km and 295 m of descent & ascent) then onwards to Scafell Pike summit arriving there about 1:30 pm. This was second & last of the two Lakes 3000'ers that Sarah would ascend with Iain, however, we now had a long walk to get to Wythburn!

Photo five was taken at around 2:30 pm as we headed towards Calf Cove on our way to Esk Hause. Here, we passed three chaps working on the footpath apparently as part of the National Trust/National Park Fix The Fells Programme - good effort guys!

Calf Cove was another good place to load up with fresh water - the first in fact since we had reached the bottom of the slope below Foxes Tarn. Iain also found the water great for cooling his face off, as so far, the day had been very warm indeed!!

Just beyond this point, as we approached Esk Hause, quite a strong breeze was blowing up from Upper Eskdale which helped cool us down; although once we descended in the direction of Angle Tarn, it became quite still again and there, we also briefly had some rain.

Photo six was taken about an hour later as we approached Stake Pass. We had descended from Esk Hause towards Angle Tarn en route for Langdale and then turned left taking a path traversing the ridge behind Rossett Pike towards Stake Pass.

It had become apparent quite a while back that there was no way we were going to make Wythburn for 5 pm and Iain had tried to call Hayley to let her know this, but it seemed impossible to get a signal - even from here where we had a clear view down Langdale and out to towards Morecambe bay. The weather was hotter than ever and we still had over a third of the way to go; and one last big climb in the way!

Photo seven sees Sarah at the top of High Raise - our last high top on this section of Sarah's route to Wythburn. Sarah contemplates the mountains in the distance and Helvellyn - her fourth & final 3000 foot peak. The time was now 4:40 and it wouldn't be until 10pm that Sarah would finally get to stand on that distant summit.

We were both relieved to get to here after the 45 minute/300 m climb from Stake Beck done in baking heat with no breeze. At least from here on, it was all downhill. Well - almost!

At the top of High Raise Iain had also managed to send a text to Hayley indicating that our ETA at the foot of Wythburn was now more likely to be around 6:30pm.

An hour later, photo eight sees Sarah skirting the bottom of the Wythburn valley as we headed on towards the end our our time together and Sarah's final big pull up on to Helvellyn.

Our walk along Wythburn was wet to say the least. This remote & desolate valley really has to be the wettest in The Lake District, and despite the fact that the path does it's best to skirt the marshy valley floor, it was with some relief when we'd squelched our way to Wythburn Head Tarns and begun the final descent into the Thirlmere valley.

Photo nine was taken as we reached the lower floor of Wythburn and now only had about a mile to go to the finish. The finish for Iain - but not for Sarah that was!

In the background, Helvellyn glows in the evening sun, but by the time Sarah reached that skyline, the sun was long gone!

Together, Iain & Sarah covered 13.8 miles (22.1 km) from Seathwaite to Wythburn Car Park taking 10 hours & 20 minutes (we arrived at 6:35pm).

After we had all loaded up with more food & drink, Sarah & Hayley set off, reaching the summit of Helvellyn at 10pm and arriving back in Keswick at 12:45am the next morning.

An amazing achievement. Sarah completed her Lakes 4 Challenge in 25 hours & 15 minutes but, if you take off the break times, Sarah actually completed the whole circuit in 22 hours & 45 minutes. Congratulations Sarah!

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District. Scout Crags, Langdale. Saturday 10th September 2016.

Last Saturday Iain was out with Tom Hayton, his sister Becca; and friends Mustapha (Taf) and Rascheed.

All climb together at the indoor climbing wall in Kendal and have done for some time. As is often the case, these four climbers wanted to progress from Indoor Climbing to rock climbing on the real stuff. What this basically involves is gaining an understanding of the various products on the market for use as rock anchors, how to place them well and how to link them together to form a "safety chain" out of slings and rope for safe rock climbing.

In photo one, the group are practising anchor selection.

So, we spent the morning looking at how the various types of anchor products (Nuts, Hexcentrics, Camming Devices) could be used in placements (usually tapered cracks in solid rock).

The emphasis when selecting the right product for the job was what would fit best in a placement and which way (Nuts & Hexcentrics can be placed on one of two axis). Anchors were scored on the basis of 1 - 10 where 1 was rubbish and likely to fail if shock-loaded and 10 was unlikely to fail. Scoring was based on how well the anchor fitted the placement and how much of each opposing side was in contact with the rock and how deeply into the rock the anchor was placed.

Emphasis was also placed on setting in (ie shock-loading) to jam the product in the placement (this technique must NOT be applied to camming devices). We then spent time on equalising the anchors to a central attachment point using, karabinersslings (photo two), static (pre-stretched) or dynamic (climbing) rope.

Through doing all of the above, we got through three hours of time surprisingly quickly! The aim was, that in the afternoon, our group of four would split into two teams of two each to go off with a rock climbing instructor to have a go at completing a multi-pitch rock climb.

As that was due to start around 1pm, we had around 45 minutes for the group to try out some single pitch climbing at Lower Scout Crag (photo three) whilst also having the opportunity to get some lunch before the afternoon session was started.

The group were interested in setting up anchors for top rope/bottom belay systems for single pitch (Introductory) rock climbing sessions. Whilst they had done this, given the time constraints, it was quicker for them to observe Iain setting up an appropriate system to allow them to get a couple of climbs in during lunchtime. This seemed to work ok!

After lunch, Iain, Tom & Taf headed the short distance up-slope to Upper Scout Crag where the lads were given an introduction to multi-pitch |"trad" rock climbing on the 3 pitch VDiff classic - Route 1.

Becca & Rascheed, met one of our associate instructors at the National Trust car park and went off to climb on Middlefell Buttress - also an excellent "learning to lead" venue.

With the coaching that had already gone one during the morning, all were now well placed to begin multi-pitch climbing. Some coaching was required in the art of placing running belays (runners) and how to get them out again and we also looked at the pros & cons of using slings to equalise anchors to a central attachment point at a stance versus tying directly into anchors using the climbing rope. In photo four, Taf is doing a great job of belaying Tom (who has just moved above the "crux" (hardest part of the climb. We did another two pitches and then abseiled the length of the crag back to the foot of the route; and that was the day done.

The four paid just £80 each for their Rock Climbing Skills Training Course in The Lake District and they enjoyed a varied day packed full of new climbing skills and the opportunity to implement them - just as it should be! Helmets, harnesses ropes & rack were all included in the fee as well as coaching from two Mountaineering Instructors making this an excellent value skills training day.

This is what Tom thought anyway!

"Absolutely brilliant!!

I's like to start by saying what a thoroughly down to earth, decent guy, Iain is. He took me and a group of friends for a multi-pitch trad climbing course in Langdale. We had a fantastic day learning everything we needed to get started trad climbing with very clear and helpful instruction.

Iain is a very good teacher, he didn't just tell us what to do, he gave us a good understanding of why and; and how things worked. I was really surprised just how much we fit into our day and how much we all learned, so it was really worth every penny.

We will definitely be back for another course in the future.


This testimonial can be viewed on our website, here.

To book your Rock Climbing Skills Training Course or Introduction  to Rock Climbing Course in The Lake District - contact the rock climbing experts at Kendal Mountaineering Services here. We look forward to working with you!

Tuesday 6 September 2016

The Aonach Eagach. A classic Scottish Mountaineering Traverse. Saturday September 3rd, 2016.

Three days ago (is it really that already!!), Iain was at work guiding on the Aonach Eagach Ridge in Scotland.

The Aonach Eagach (Gaelic for "notched" ridge) is a precipitous ridge running east-west and forming the south side of Glen Coe. Most people traverse the ridge from east to west as we did on Saturday. We started our route from the small layby on the A82 at the foot of the south ridge of Am Bodach.

The weather was cloudy and we had intermittent bursts of fine drizzle - you can see what it was like in photo one with Steve & Kerstine. In the background - across Glen Coe is Gearr Aonach (the middle one of the three sisters with Coire Gabhail (the lost valley) to it's left. It was there that the MacDonald Clan hid their cattle during the Glen Coe Massacre of 1692.

The Aonach Eagach is a serious undertaking and whilst the total distance distance travelled from end to end is only around seven kilometres, the ridge line between Am Bodach and Stob Coire Leith is difficult (a grade II scramble) and because of this one really should be competent at scrambling.

The route is in places, very narrow and exposed - particularly at the pinnacles and there are places where down-climbing  rock is required and where the use of a rope is advisable. There are certainly plenty of places where a slip can turn into something more serious. It is well worth considering hiring a Mountaineering Instructor for the day to guide you along this ridge as was the case when Iain had been hired to guide Steve & Kerstine along the route.

The last few times Iain has been on the Aonach Eagach have been in winter and plants such as the one seen in photo two were buried under snow then. This "plant" was in fact a tree - a Rowan or Mountain Ash way up at 3000 feet on the ridge just beyond the summit of Am Bodach and it was not the only one we saw today. In actual fact, the ridge, despite however around the 3000 foot mark throughout it's length is a pretty verdant place with lots of different vegetation thriving in the moist atmosphere. It was really nice to see!

We reached the summit of Am Bodach at the Aonach Eagach's eastern end quite quickly today. Having set off from the car park at around 08:30, we were on the summit by 11:15.Here, we had a short break then we got helmets & harnesses on - ready for what was to come very shortly afterwards!

Having marvelled at the sight of a real tree (albeit a very small one) growing on the ridge, we descended slightly further on to a point where the ridge drops steeply before levelling off again about 25 metres below us. This is the first difficulty on this east-west traverse and one can either down-climb in two stages or abseil the whole lot in one go. To Iain, abseiling made more sense as the rocks were wet and slippery and there is a convenient boulder at the top of this "pitch" around which a 60 metre rope can be doubled; and with both ends dropped down the pitch it easily reaches the foot.

Steve & Kerstine were attached to both sides the the rope by means of a sling and a belay device each using a method known as a stacked abseil (photo three) Using this method allowed Iain to descend first and then protect each person as they followed him down this first pitch.

Photo four sees Kerstine (who was next in the queue for abseiling after Iain) holding the rope ends for Steve who was the last to descend this first "pitch" on the Aonach Eagach traverse.

The idea with a "stacked abseil" is that everyone is attached to the ropes before the instructor leaves the stance and everyone remains secured until the abseil has been completed - each person down then holds the ropes for the person descending behind them with the intention that if the abseiling person lets go the trailing ropes the person below then pulls the ropes tight acting as a "safety back-up". The instructor will often do this job for everyone descending if it is necessary.

Steve can be seen abseiling (in the centre of the photo) and once he was down, we had another short scrambling section to descend to get down to the low point point on the ridge between Am Bodach and Meall Dearg. Here, the rope was packed away again so that we could "crack on" with our traverse of the Aonach Eagach Ridge.

Photo five was taken a short while after we had descended the first "step" off Am Bodach. Beyond here, the ridge broadens as we begin our ascent to Meall Dearg - the first "Munro Summit" on the Aonach Eagach Traverse at 953 metres. The route gradually ascends to a minor top along the way then a short decent followed by a slightly longer re-ascent brings one to the top of Meall Dearg.

As can be seen in photo five, the weather at this point was still cloudy although the cloud was beginning to break up. Furthermore, there was none of the forecast 25 - 35mph wind indicated by MWIS and it was no longer drizzling. If it remained like this then that would be fine, but in actual fact, the weather got much better!

Photo six was a snap of Kerstine & Steve taken at the summit of Meall Dearg.

Meall Dearg is one of only two "classified" Munro summits on the Aonach Eagach. A Munro is a mountain of over 3000 feet (914 metres) in height and there are 284 Munro Summits in Scotland. One might well ask why all four major tops on the ridge are not classed as Munros as Am Bodach is 943 metres, and Stob Coire Leith is 940 metres in addition to Meal Dearg at 543 metres and Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh at 967 metres. We are afraid that a definitive answer eludes us at the current time!

Anyway, we arrived here at mid-day which Iain felt was good going but he pressed us to continue on towards the famous pinnacles further along the ridge to the west before we stopped for lunch. It seemed like a good plan!

By the time photo seven was taken, we had a view!

Shortly after leaving the top of Meall Dearg, the cloud started to clear and on occasion, we had blue sky and sunshine. Certainly, the day had improved from it's damp start and the conditions we now found ourselves in were very pleasant indeed!

There is nothing much less inspiring than a mountain expedition where there are no views due to cloud, so it's great to go out and see things actually improve! In photo seven, Steve, followed by Iain are making good progress along the ridge towards the tricky section way in the distance. Glen Coe and Loch Atriochtan are visible way down below on the left. It was just stunning!

An hour later, the weather had "clagged back in" slightly but only briefly! We had stopped for lunch and enjoyed it in bright sunny conditions, with great views down in to Glen Coe and across to the summits surrounding Bidean Nam Bian on the opposite side of the valley. Now, it was definitely time to rope up for the next section!

A short scramble down and climb back up brought us to another short descent on to the narrowest part of the ridge where two rock pinnacles have to be traversed. Whilst to do this is not particularly difficult, the exposure overlooking steep drops on either side is fairly challenging to someone who is not a "scrambler" and certainly to slip here would have serious consequences. In photo eight, Steve is just passing the first pinnacle as Kerstine starts past the second. The good thing is that with a couple of 16 foot Dyneema slings one can "lasso" each pinnacle using them as running belays for anyone making the traverse roped up and that was what Iain did here today.

Photo nine was taken shortly after our traverse of the pinnacles and is looking back east along the Aonach Eagach.

The summit of Meall Dearg (just right of centre) is almost completely hidden by cloud whilst Am Bodach - a kilometre beyond, is largely clear of cloud at this point.

Here, on the last summit before we reached the bealach (col) leading up to Stob Coire Leith, we were not "out of the woods" yet! There remained some down-climbing on slabby rock (often abseiled in winter conditions) and then a bit ascent & descent before we reached the bealach where we could remove the rope knowing that we had now passed all difficulties that the Aonach Eagach has to offer. We reached there at 3pm, still good going!

Photo ten was snapped by Kerstine as we descended to the bealach in question and shows the contrast between the lush grasses growing in the foreground and Glen Coe/Loch Atriochtan in the distance.

Indeed, the vegetation throughout the traverse was lush away from the crest of the ridge and we saw several tiny Rowan trees growing and also some Hogweed as well. Obviously, the ridge's altitude and precipitous nature accounts for the lack of sheep which would have a devastating effect on all of this growth and Feral Goats could undoubtedly get here, but there are reportedly none in the area. However, we did see a Mountain Hare on the ridge shortly after our first abseil which was amazing!

Photo eleven was taken  at around 3:45 pm as we were en route for the summit of Stob Coire Leith.

Here, Steve & Kerstine look back to the last section of ridge which appears to be smoking ominously as if it were the edge of some active volcanic crater. The section of ridge in view here is the most difficult part of the Aonach Eagach Traverse - starting with the pinnacles just beyond the visible summit and then the descent down a steep rocky slab followed by a number of short climbs up and more descent. It's always a good feeling to reach that bealach before heading up this way.

After we had unroped and packed all of our climbing equipment away, we decided to continue on to the summit of Stob Coire Leith before having a drink and a bite to eat. As far as time was concerned, we were still going well and we had plenty of light left.
Photo twelve sees Kerstine & Steve just beyond the summit of Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh - at 967 metres, the highest summit (and Munro) on the Aonach Eagach Traverse; and also the easiest one to get to the top of.

From here, there a three ways off - down the slope to the left of the photo, steeply through scree to reach the A82 next to Loch Atriochtan in Glen Coe, over the end of the ridge and down the side of Clachaig (the most hazardous route for masochists only!) and the more common descent route from the subsidiary summit in the background down to the right in the direction of Sgorr Na Ciche (The Pap of Glen Coe) actually visible just to the right of Steve.

We had already decided on the latter route before starting out for the day and Steve & Kerstine had left their car parked at the foot of the path which ends at the bottom of the slope in this photo (where the white dot is just left of centre beyond the scree slope in the foreground). In the distance can be seen Glen Coe Village, Loch Leven, the Ballachulish Bridge and Loch Linnhe.

The path is good at first amongst the scree but then becomes more difficult once one reaches the grass where it degenerates into a rubble filled trench alternating with muddy sections. However, it is preferable to the alternative descent routes for definite! It took us an hour & a half to get back to the car and we were quite pooped by the time we got there - but what a day out it had been.

Kendal Mountaineering Services (despite the name) offer Guided Scrambling Courses throughout the UK, so if you are interested in booking one of our Mountaineering Instructors for a great day out in the mountains then do contact us here. We look forward to working with you!

Thursday 1 September 2016

Guided Fell Walking in The Lake District. An ascent of Glaramara. Saturday 27th August 2016.

After only a few days, Iain was out providing yet another Guided Fell Walking Day in The Lake District for Donise Winter, her daughter Leila and Donise's sister Nicole. However, on this occasion, they were joined by their friend Tim, also from London.

It had been an ambition of Donise's to climb Glaramara for some time and she thought that this would be an attainable object for her daughter & group of friends. Indeed, Donise & Leila had successfully climbed Scafell Pike from Seathwaite with Iain only a matter of a month earlier, so Iain believed this objective was a perfectly achievable objective for them today.

Photo one sees the group as we headed up the footpath from Borrowdale into the Combe Gill Valley. Iain had collected Donise & Leila from home and Tim & Nicole from the Cragwood Hotel where they were staying and had driven the group to Borrowdale where we parked on the Stonethwaite Road. We took a footpath via St Andrews Church past the local primary school; and after a short distance on the main road, picked up the path to take us directly to Glaramara.

Photo two sees our group some time later with a view up Combe Gill to Raven Crag (immediately above Donise) famous for it's 8 pitch mountaineering rock climbing route. Our route would follow the right hand skyline towards the summit just left of centre (Combe Head) The true summit of Glaramara is actually out of sight in photo two just beyond Combe Head.

Photo three sees Tim, Leila, Donise & Nicole several hours later after we had travelled a further 2 km with the summit buttress of Glaramara behind us and now only some 300 metres distant.

To get to this point had taken us about four hours, with two stops along the way and Leila delighting in clambering over every bit of rock she could find near to the path along our route. The way to the summit behind us involved walking straight towards the dip in the middle, but this also meant scrambling up a rock step which Iain felt might be difficult for Tim. Iain suggested that Tim, Donise and Nicole made their around the foot of the final buttress rightwards - up the easier route to the summit, whilst he indulged Leila's passion for climbing by scrambling straight up the summit buttress with her.

Our final photo from this post about a Guided Fell Walking Day in The Lake District sees the whole group at Glaramara's summit; cairn on what had been a beautiful day throughout.

Our route from Stonethwaite had taken us almost five hours, but given that Tim has been a Parkinson's sufferer for many years - getting to this summit was a massive achievement for him and for Nicole who doesn't get much of an opportunity to go walking up big mountains. We set off on the return journey and reached the car at around 5:45 pm before enjoying a refreshing drink at The Langstrath Country Inn in Stonethwaite which was understandably heaving on this Bank Holiday Saturday! It was about 7pm before Iain returned the group to Donise's at Troutbeck. It had been a long day out, but the weather was good; and from Iain's perspective, it was great to be able to help these people reach the top of another great Lake District mountain.

For people who don't know. Glaramara lies at the head of Borrowdale in The Lake District and it is the highest point of a 6 km ridge separating the valleys of Langstrath and Borrowdale. Our route took us from Stonethwaite up into the pretty valley of Combe Gill and on along the west ridge to the summit. Total distance travelled would have been 8 km or approximately 5 miles; and our height gain was 683 metres or 2240 feet.

A pretty alternative to our route can be to start at Stanger Gill just up the valley from Stonethwaite opposite the camp-site and climb steeply up to gain the summit of Bessyboot (Rosthwaite Fell). From here, one can then continue past Tarn at Leaves along the undulating ridge to Combe Door at the head of the Combe Gill valley then on to Glaramara. Our route then makes for an easy return to the valley floor and Stonethwaite. For Rock Climbers & Scramblers - in the Combe Gill valley there are venues such as Glaciated Slab and Corvus on Raven Crag which is a much sought after classic rock climbing tick. Another alternative way on to Glaramara is by way of the Langstrath Valley to just beyond Blackmoss Pot and then one takes the line of buttresses rising to the right (Cam Crag) as another scrambling route. From the top of Cam Crag, one heads left to get to Combe Door, Combe Head; and the summit of Glaramara.

Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services is an experienced Mountaineering Instructor with a lifetime of experience walking, climbing & scrambling on The Lake District's Fells. Contact him at Kendal Mountaineering Services to arrange your Guided Fell Walk in The Lake District and if you would like to take in a rock climb or a scramble along the way en route to your summit of choice, then he will be happy to arrange this for you. We look forward to working with you.

Canyoning Half Days in The Lake District. Church Beck, Coniston, August 26th, 2016.

Last week, we were called at short notice by Michelle Sheard & her family who were all staying in The Lake District on holiday having travelled over from Leeds. Michelle was looking to book a half day Canyoning Session in The Lake District and had already contacted a number of providers before coming across our leaflet at Bowness TIC. Michelle liked the look of what we offer and contacted Iain who was available to run their Canyoning Session on Friday.

Photo one sees (left to right) Lydia, Michelle, John, Madison & Dylan all kitted out; and ready to start their Canyoning Session.

Iain chose Church beck for its proximity to where the family were staying, but also because it is one of the Lake District's best Canyoning Venues.

The usable section is to be found at the back of Coniston Village, a short walk up Coppermines Lane. We get in just below the hydro-electric plant dam and are immediately into the first waterfall lower (photo two) This is not high, only about 8 feet, but it is a good way to prepare people for the bigger, more challenging waterfalls ahead!
After the first waterfall lower, we travel but a few metres onwards to the next waterfall. Here, we cannot jump into the pool at the waterfall (there is a big rock in the bottom) nor are there anchor points for a lower into the pool, so we bypass the fall, scramble down the rocks and jump into the deep pool. After a 100 metre walk downstream (today on delightfully clean & "grippy" after the scouring action of last Saturday's flood) to Miners Bridge which is followed by the Miners Bridge waterfall Lower. Having lowered the whole family down this fall (photo three) we then set off to the really challenging part of this Canyoning Descent in The Lake District - The Top Jumps.

The top jumps describe a section where Church Beck is funneled into a narrow slot with three waterfalls and three deep pools in succession.

The first fall requires the use of the rope to safeguard clients to a point where they can jump six feet into the pool below, below the next fall is another rock and the jump is risky, so we avoid that, swim the pool below and then slide down the next fall into the final pool - watch the video! Below here is a walk downstream to the bottom waterfall which we climb in ascent as in photo four.

Below this point the beck becomes subject to a user agreement in which we are required to pay £6 for each adult of £3 per child (we would have to pass this cost on to you so we'd rather not bother!) So, what we do is turn around and do a short Ghyll Scrambling Ascent back to the Chock-stone Slide. Along the way, it is possible to do a "tricky" rock climbing traverse around the back of a deep pool (penalty for failure is, of course, a thorough ducking!) and a low jump & swim in the pool above. The "grand finale" is to exit the left bank of the beck below the Chock-stone Slide and do a 20 foot jump from that bank into the pool below before doing the Chock-stone Slide one final time - an exhilarating & challenging finish to a great Canyoning adventure!

Our half day Canyoning Sessions in The Lake District cost just £45 per person for a four hour session. Children receive a discount ie Michelle paid just £30 each for the 3 children. The fee includes the provision of wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets harnesses, cagoules and walking boots as well as guiding by one of our experienced canyoning instructors. Contact us here to book your Canyoning Session in The Lake District - you won't be disappointed

Guided Fell-walking days in The Lake District, Thursday 25th August 2016.

Last Thursday, we were out with returning client Donise Winter, her daughter Leila; and Donise's sister Nicole who were looking for some Guided Fell Walking in The Lake District in the run up to the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Donise & her daughter regularly come up to their cottage in The Lake District and were in the area for a week. They had a full itinerary planned and were looking for a shortened walk for Thursday to finish at 2 pm. As the group were staying in the Troutbeck area Iain suggested a circuit of Wansfell Pike from Ambleside. Photo one sees Nicole, Leila and Donise as we walked one of the many bridleways en route to Wansfell Pike on this cloudy, but calm & warm day.

Iain collected all three at 9 am and by 09:30, we had started the walk from Ambleside. Our route took us along the bridleway through Skelghyll Woods and on past the viewpoint of Jenkin Crag from where one has a superb view over Windermere. We had a brief snack stop just prior to reaching High Skelghyll Farm before travelling on to turn left on to the "Hundreds Road" where photo one was taken.

We continued on to the end of this lane and followed the upper reaches of Hol Beck for a short way before climbing a short but rather steeper section of path to the summit of Wansfell Pike (photo two)

All in all, our route took us around 3 hours to reach the summit as the family had wanted to have a gentle stroll in scenic surroundings. Our route was a gradually rising traverse - firstly through magnificent woodland, then scenic typical Lake District Hill farming terrain and ultimately on to one of the areas best view points.

At just 484 metres/1588 feet high, Wansfell Pike is less than half the height of some of The Lake Districts highest mountains, but it's commanding view over Ambleside and Windermere makes it one of the most climbed mountains in The Lake District for certain.

Our scenic, gradual ascent route was largely free of other walkers - indeed, we passed only some ten people on our route up although going down, we must have passed some fifty persons making the "short & sweet" (or steep - as Iain would put it!) ascent straight up the north west slope directly from Ambleside (photo three). It was definitely a route for descent and not ascent today!

This path takes you directly down to the road leading in to Ambleside Town Centre via Stock Ghyll waterfalls, however, our route took us back, firstly via a pretty bridleway; and then through peaceful housing estate directly back to the car which we reached by....2 pm, just!

Donise, Leila & Nicole enjoyed their shortened Fell Walking Day in The Lake District with Iain who is a knowledgeable and experienced Mountain Walking Leader. If you are coming to The Lake District and have aspirations to be guided up any of the areas mountains then give us a call and we can guide you - in Winter as well as Summer; and if you fancy taking in a classic scrambling route along the way, we can arrange that too!