Thursday 27 October 2016

Guided Fell Walking in The Lake District. Helm Crag. Friday 21st October 2016.

After our great day out on Blencathra the previous day, Iain was back at working guiding Donise and Leila the next morning. This time the pair had picked Helm Crag, Grasmere as their objective and our start time 11am.

This pretty little mountain overlooks Grasmere and is famous for it's distinctive summit rock outcrops known as "The Lion & The Lamb" and the true summit going by the names of "The Witch and The Organ/The Howitzer". Photo one sees Leila enjoying some rock climbing on the true summit of Helm Crag which is a steep rock crest overhanging on it's east side.

Photo two sees Leila and Donise just beyond the true summit of Helm Crag. Iain & Leila climbed four routes on the left hand sloping side of this rocky buttress. Leila was delighted to be "working with the rope" again just as she had been the previous day on Sharp Edge. Donise was quite happy to sit and watch her little girl climbing today.

Our next objective - the "other" rocky outcrop of The Lion & The Lamb lay only a couple of hundred metres along the summit crest, but disappointingly for Leila. there was, no easy rock climbing to be done there.

However, there was this deep cleft just next to the outcrop of The Lion & The Lamb for Leila to explore. The downhill entrance to this could be easily reached and so Iain & Leila went to explore.

Photo three sees Leila in the cleft with Donise just beyond at the head of a short but difficult climb out. It was easy for Iain to get Leila up this climb; at which point she duly ran back around and asked to do it again. Anything to keep the customers happy! Iain wasn't getting out this way himself, so had to walk back down the cleft and climb back up by the easy route.

There has clearly been some geological cataclysm on Helm Crag many thousands of years ago. The whole of the east side of the mountain appears to have subsided by some 25 metres having torn away from the mountains crest. This has produced a rocky trench just below the summit crest and the distinctive shapes of The Howitzer and The Lion & The Lamb which both overhang on their eastern sides as a result.

Out route up Helm Crag had started at Ghyll Foot on the north east side of the mountain, we crossed the foot of the pretty Greenburn Valley and then headed up to the col between Helm Crag & Gibson Knott - a distance of only 3/4 of a mile and some 600 feet of ascent. From there is was only a short distance to the summit of Helm Crag where, we climbed for a while before going to explore the cleft at The Lion & The Lamb. We then descended via the south ridge of Helm Crag (photo three) to Lancrigg (another of Wordsworth's many one time residences in the area) through a pretty arboretum before following the road back under the eastern side of the fell back to Ghyll Foot - it didn't take long!

The total distance for this short, but pleasant guided walk in The Lake District was 4.2 kilometres (2.61 miles) and 264 m (866 feet) of ascent. We did the whole route in under four hours which suited Donise's itinerary for the pair for the day very well.

Our half day (four hour) guided walks in The Lake District cost just £100 for one to four persons. for more than four persons add £20 per additional person. With Iain's lifetime experience living and working in the area you can be sure to have a great experience. Contact us here to book your guided walk in The Lake District - we look forward to working with you.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Guided Fell Walking in The Lake District. Blencathra by the classic ridges of Sharp Edge & Hallsfell Ridge. Thursday 20th October 2016.

After his easy day out last Wednesday with Ray & Nicole Palmer, Iain was out the next day with Donise Winter & her daughter Leila for something a bit more challenging!

Donise & Leila make regular pilgrimages from London to their cottage near Windermere; and Iain has guided then up a number of Lake District mountains during this Summer. Thursday was our fourth day out with the pair who absolutely love walking in the Lake District Mountains and the fourth time we've been blessed with good, dry weather too.

Today, the weather didn't appear to have started out as per the MWIS forecast, which had stated visibility would be good on the mountains, with almost no risk of showers. On the drive to meet the pair, the Lake District mountains were observed to be shrouded in cloud and we had several showers en route, but but the time we got to the top of Mousthwaite Comb - things were looking a lot better (photo one).

Yes - our walk in to Scales Tarn saw the weather improve markedly. The skies cleared and the sun warmed us up; and there was no breeze. Just perfect!

The walk from Mousthwaite Comb alongside the River Glenderamackin is a mere 2 kilometres, with only a short climb to Scales Tarn, so we were soon there. Our objective - Sharp Edge (photo two) was swathed in mists that kept on clearing, but by the time were were on it, it was completely clear of cloud. This short arete has a notorious reputation! Short , it might be, but as it merges with the shoulder of Foule Crag it becomes extremely narrow with precipitous drops on both sides and due to the traffic it receives, the rock is very polished and hence, very slippery! Sharp Edge is definitely a place for which you'll want to engage the services of a Mountaineering Instructor to guide you if exposure and tricky scrambling are not your thing, but if you do this, then Sharp Edge can still be part of a great days Fell Walking in The Lake District on one of the areas most popular high summits.

Donise found Sharp Edge quite a challenge although little Leila took it in her stride (she loves scrambling & climbing on rock and does so at every opportunity when in the mountains!) There was a feeling of exhilaration, a sense of real achievement and relief (we think!) when the three finally reached the footpath at the top of the slabs on Sharp Edge - time for a celebration by having a bit more lunch!

The top of Blencathra was clouded in, but as we approached it, that also cleared and we had great views in all directions. Photo three sees a very satisfied Donise with Leila. The mountain in the background, left, is Skiddaw - a future objective for the pair.

For our descent from the summit of Blencathra back to the car, Iain gave Donise & Leila 3 options: The Scales Fell descent is the easiest & shortest route back; a walk along the summit ridge west to Blease Fell, a descent to it's foot and then a traverse all the way back east along the foot of the mountain is the longest route; and the descent directly from Blencathra's summit via the precipitous Hallsfell Ridge and Halls Fell, the most interesting (photo four). It was no surprise to Iain that Leila should pick the latter option and we all enjoyed this scrambling descent down to point where the ridge broadens out on the way down the the intake wall at Gate Gill.

This was another excellent guided walking day in The Lake District for Donise & Leila and another one "off the tick list". Apparently, it was Donise's most challenging fell walk to date!

Our Guided Fell Walking Days in The Lake District including a "passage of interest" such as a scramble like Sharp Edge cost £160 per day and you will be guided by a Mountaineering Instructor - not a Mountain Walking Leader! Walks such as these are a great way to experience all that the area's mountains have to offer; and Iain knows them well having been walking & climbing in the area for over 40 years. You can be assured of a great day out in Iain's company, so contact him here to book your Guided Fell Walking Day in The Lake District. You won't be disappointed!

Guided Walks in The Lake District. The Little Langdale Circuit. Wednesday 19th October 2016.

Last Wednesday was an easy day for us work-wise as we showed a father & Daughter the delights of The Lake District; and we never went anywhere near a mountain top!

Ray and Nicole Palmer had travelled to The Lake District for a break during the October Half Term Holiday and were staying at The Holbeck Ghyll Hotel.

Iain was contracted in to guide the pair around the scenic Little Langdale Valley from Elterwater. Photo one sees the pair in Little Langdale with The Langdale Pikes peeping through the gap between Lingmoor Fell and Blake Rigg where the pretty Blea Tarn is to be found. After a wet few days, the weather was once again perfect for this guided walk.

Iain collected Ray & Nicole from The Holbeck Ghyll at 10am and drove them to Elterwater where we parked up. As the pair had not long since finished breakfast, Iain decided that we would take the long way round before refreshments - walking straight in to Little Langdale via a bridleway which leaves the road south out of the village just opposite the Eltermere Hotel and brings us out on the Wrynose/Blea Tarn road just west of the Three Shires Inn.

We decided to walk the road to Fell Foot Bridge and then took another bridleway to Low Hall Garth - the YRC Club hut. Photo two was taken at Slater Bridge just before we visited Cathedral Cavern - with it's tunnel and massive underground chamber with a skylight - it's well worth visiting if you are in the area and also a venue for our abseiling sessions!

We walked on from Cathedral Cavern by the River Brathay and then on uphill past the footbridge and ford over the river between Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale Village.

Our route took us up the road past Stang End Farm and high Park (photo three) where we'd hoped the cafe might be open for refreshments, but it wasn't - so we'd have to walk on for another hour to reach Chesters at Skelwith Bridge.
At High Park one leaves the road and takes a footpath going downhill through woods to Colwith Force - the roar of this can be heard long before you see it.

The waterfall is definitely worth a visit and is also the site of a curious little Hydro-electric scheme which must be used to provide power for the some the houses in the valley.

From here one walks on along The Cumbria Way Footpath through gently undulating farm land via Park Farm & Park House to get to Skelwith Bridge where great cuisine awaits at Chesters (make sure you've got plenty in your wallet as it's not cheap!). The walk back to Elterwater passes Skelwith Force where the Brathay makes a 15 foot leap in the gorge and then a footpath meanders a further 2 kilometres alongside the river and Elterwater back to the car park from where we started.

All in all, this is a pleasant and easy walk for anyone visiting the Lake District. The total distance is 6.85 (11 km) miles long with a total ascent of 283 metres. However, we can shorten the route and time if you wish! There is a great deal to see and there are a number of excellent refreshment stops along the way. The time to complete this walk depends of course on your walking speed, but typically, this walk should take no more than four hours at a relatively gentle pace. Our price to guide you on this walk is £100 which can be split between 1 & 5 persons. Any additional persons, please add £20 per person up to a maximum group size of ten persons. Please note transport is not included if your group size is over four persons but can be arranged for an additional fee! Contact us here to book your guided walk in The Lake District with us - we look forward to working with you!

Saturday 22 October 2016

Ghyll Scrambling Half Day Sessions in The Lake District. Stickle Ghyll, Sunday 16th October 2016.

After working with Andy Doran's Birthday group on Saturday in Stickle Ghyll, Iain was back in again the very next day - but this time with just two people - Ben Jones and his girlfriend Maria.

The pair had come up to The Lake District for the weekend from Manchester and were looking forward to Ghyll Scrambling as the highlight of the whole weekend. We were meant to be going into Wren Gill, but unfortunately the Land Rover is out of action at the moment, so Iain had to reschedule the pair to Stickle Ghyll at fairly short notice.

Photo one see's Ben & Maria at the foot of the first waterfall climb in Stickle Ghyll which, after the previous night's rain had only slightly more water in it. It would still be fun for the pair though!
Photo two sees the pair a while later having climbed the first waterfall and then enjoyed a plunge in the pool where Andy Doran's group had been seen having such a laugh the previous day. Then, after climbing up the side of a water-slide one arrives at this place where a deep pool has to be climbed out of to grab the tree roots to get up the side of this cascade - just before arriving at the pool jump. There was plenty of fun still in store for Ben & Maria who are clearly thoroughly enjoying the Ghyll Scrambling in Stickle Ghyll in this photo.

Once again the weather was good for the time of year - still warm as after a rather cloudy start, the sun came out again to warm us up further. We've all been very luck with the October weather this year - dry weather & Sunshine is great for getting people to do things out of doors in The Lake District.
Photo three was taken by Maria using our camera. We have a waterproof & shockproof camera that goes out with Iain on every session that we run and he takes loads of photographs of everyone having fun.

We pass these photos on to our clients as part of their fee per person (in this case £45 each for Ben & Maria) using Dropbox which most people seem to use now.

It was nice to get a photo of Iain for a change - doing his job safeguarding Ben who is just appearing at the top of our biggest waterfall climb in Stickle Ghyll - there are three such waterfalls in Stickle Ghyll that are great fun to climb, but the use of the rope by an experienced instructor is absolutely necessary to safeguard customers at all three waterfalls.
Our fourth photograph from this post about a Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District was taken by Ben as Maria climbs the very last waterfall of the session.

Ben had booked their Ghyll Scrambling (also known as Gorge Walking) Session with us because we offered a higher standard of protective equipment than our competitors - in particular we provide walking boots to all of our Ghyll Scrambling customers considering that the grip, ankle support and crush protection that they provide to be absolutely essential in a ghyll. As well as those, we also give you Neoprene Wet-suits, Cagoules, Buoyancy Aids where necessary and of course Helmets for your heads and Harnesses for those roped waterfall climbs you'll be doing! Safety first, comfort second and enjoyment third - this is what our sessions are about.

Yes - you can get Ghyll Scrambling.Gorge Walking Sessions for less from others - but you won't get all of the equipment that we provide. Incredibly, some companies advocate the use of your own training shoes or plimsolls in the Ghyll - ask yourself is it not worth a few pounds more to avoid the possibility of a twisted or broken ankle to ruin your holiday? An outcome like that is something we want you to to avoid at all costs!

Our final photo from the session sees a very satisfied Ben & Maria at the end of their Ghyll Scrambling Session in The Lake District.

Stickle Ghyll is a beautiful place at the best of times, but there was something about the Autumn colours today that made this a very pretty photo - not to mention the masses of bright red berries hanging in the Rowan (Mountain Ash) tree just beyond the pair.

All that remained to be done, was to descend back to the car to get changed and enjoy a mug of Hot Chocolate (again - provided as part of the fee) to warm us through - a good end to another great Ghyll Scrambling Session with us.

Ben left us the following testimonial on our website.

"Iain took my partner and I Ghyll Scrambling up Stickle Ghyll on a Sunday afternoon, and we were fortunate enough to be the only ones on the booking for that time. We saw the Lake District from a totally different viewpoint, and had a brilliant time jumping into pools, climbing waterfalls, and even learning a bit about the area we were in.
I definitely wouldn't hesitate to book with Iain again next time we're in the area, he was friendly, helpful, took some excellent photographs which were included in the price, and provided all the kit we needed to enjoy ourselves safely. The hot chocolate at the end was well appreciated to get some warmth back into our fingertips too!"
Ben Jones
As it is still warm enough to enjoy Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District, we will be continuing to do so for the foreseeable. So whilst you are in The Lake District with your family then give us a call to book this great activity. You won't be disappointed and discounts apply to family bookings - we look forward to working with you!

A birthday Celebration with a difference! Ghyll Scrambling in The Lake District. Saturday 15th October 2015.

Last Saturday, we were joined for one of our famous Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District by ten chaps from Liverpool.

All of the guys were here with their mate Andy Doran who was in the area to celebrate his 40th birthday. Andy had contacted us a few weeks earlier to book the session and it would appear that most of those attending had no idea what they had let themselves in for - as they put it!

Anyway, Iain had to explain that yes - they would be getting wet; and initially they might feel a little chilly, but it would be great fun - he assured them!

And as you can see from all the grins in photo two - the lads were having a great time Ghyll Scrambling -even though as you can see at this point, some of them were in water up to their chests!

Fortunately, the weather for mid October was unusually warm and the water level in Stickle Ghyll was unusually low for the time of year. Add to this mix a group clad in waterproof jackets and wetsuits and people didn't actually get too cold at all; and really enjoyed the session which is what we always hope to achieve. Good result again then!
We made our way up Stickle Ghyll starting from just behind the National Trust Car park, walking, scrambling, climbing & swimming our way upstream. Photo one was taken just before the entire group climbed the waterfall in the background and photo two was taken shortly afterwards at the first deep pool in Stickle Ghyll - not that there's many!

Photo three was taken quite a while later - after we had done the "jump" into the deepest pool in the ghyll, walked upstream, gotten out by the footbridge and then gotten back in again about 150 metres further on avoiding the "boring" bouldery section.

From here on, we would be on solid rock with another two waterfalls to climb; and some smaller waterfalls with deep pools at their foot to be scrambled up. Everyone was enjoying themselves anyway and that's what matters.
Our final photograph from this post about a great Ghyll Scrambling session in The Lake District sees the "other aspect" of what this great activity can provide in play; and that's challenge.

The chap in this photo has an expression on his face that suggests he found the waterfall climb he's just done quite challenging/exciting. We reckon all of the lads had their fair share of Adrenalin today. Ghyll Scrambling is meant to be fun & exhilarating; a real experience that should be on everyone's bucket list; and you should do it with us!

Our Ghyll Scrambling Sessions in The Lake District start at just £45 per person for a four hour session though this group of ten paid just £40 each and children under 16 will receive a further discount. So, while it's still warm enough: it's a great activity to do during this October Half Term Holiday. Contact us to book your Ghyll Scrambling Session - you won't be disappointed!

Prince's Trust Residential. October 11th - 14th, 2016.

After his Scrambling Skills Training Weekend in The Lake District with Clym & Ellie, Iain was back in The Yorkshire Dales the following Tuesday - working with the York Prince's Trust Group.

During the previous week, Iain had worked with a number of different groups on different days either scrambling or Rock Climbing. During this week, he remained with the same group for the duration of their Prince's Trust Residential.

During the first day, Iain collected the group from York by minibus (Iain is also PCV Qualified with full CPC so can therefore transport groups as well) and then drove to Harrogate Climbing Centre where we spent the afternoon rock climbing . Not everyone in the group chose to take part in this session, but it is, of course, challenge by choice! Photo one was actually taken the next morning during our scrambling session at Brimham Rocks.
Photo two sees Iain's group for the week at Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire. Brimham is a great place and gets used a lot by groups from many of the areas outdoor centres for introductory Rock Climbing Sessions and scrambling.

The area consists of outcrops of Grit-stone interspersed throughout woodland on a ridge. Many of these can be climbed on to and we spent a morning doing just that - but by helping each other up and down where required. Lots of fun and very rewarding; many in the group enjoyed this activity more than they though they would!

In the afternoon the group went caving at Manchester Hole in Nearby Nidderdale and then in the evening, for a treat, we all went Ten Pin Bowling in Skipton, great fun!

On the groups second full day of activities, we drove from our base at West End near Blubberhouses to Malham to do the "Malham Challenge Walk".

The challenge walk involved the group being given a map and a list of clues designed to help them follow a route from Malham Village up to Malham Cove and then up & across the moor above to Goredale Scar and hence back to the minibus at Malham.

The weather on our second day wasn't great - rain showers were forecast for the day and a pretty heaving one started just as we arrived at the village. Now these groups can be quite challenging as if they don't want to do something, they won't be forced; and as the rain started, many were not at all keen to leave the warm & dry bus.

Fortunately, with a little coaxing by the skilled & experienced Prince's Trust Leaders, we managed to persuade the group to leave the vehicle; and minutes later, we were in warm sunshine again. This lifted everyone's spirits and we all enjoyed the hike up to Malham Cove and on to the pavement above where both photos were taken.

We continued around to Goredale, but some of our participants (who had been on the same residential the previous year) weren't keen to walk up there again, so Iain walked them back to the bus and we then waited another 45 minutes for the rest of the group to return.

The next morning, after the group had packed and cleaned West End, Iain returned them to York and then drove back to The Lake District to get ready for our next groups adventure - Ghyll Scrambling!

Kendal Mountaineering Services run all manner of great activity sessions and Skills Training Courses in The Lake District, Wales & Scotland. If you would like to know what we can offer you then visit our website here. We look forward to working with you!

Scrambling Skills Training Course. October 8th & 9th 2016.

During the second weekend of October, Iain found himself working with Clym & Ellie Stephenson from Kendal. Both had previously attended one of our excellent value weekend Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District some time previously and thoroughly enjoy going hill-walking in the area's mountains when they get a chance.

Recently, they had decided that they wished to learn scrambling skills so that they could climb the Lake District Mountains by some of the more interesting routes which often involve scrambling.

Scrambling involves moving on rock wherever possible - following the line of a rocky buttress or ridge or possibly ascending a ledge on a cliff face. Scrambling on grade 1 ground is relatively easy, but Clym & Ellie wanted to learn the skills required to move safely on grade 2 or 3 scrambles.

Photo one sees the pair on the lower shoulder of Tarn Crag above Stickle Ghyll in Langdale (one of our favourite Ghyll Scrambling Venues). Tarn Crag is one of our favourite venues for teaching one our scrambling courses as it has a range of routes from grade 1 to grade 3 and therefore much to offer students.

We spent the morning on the lower shoulder of Tarn Crag looking at the skill of spotting (moving together without ropes), short roping skills as in photo one; and all of the types of belay available to scramblers, before moving on to a grade 2 scramble (photo two) where, Ellie was given the chance to lead.

The grade 2 scrambling route we used in the afternoon was called The Spur. This route follows the line of a rocky rib leading up from the southern end of tarn crag. The scramble starts with a tricky traverse up a slab then follows a grassy groove to a spike belay. Above here the route goes straight up rocky slabs to a belay on an exposed stance before one moves up on to a grassy slope.

Above the grassy slope, the route goes up over three rock buttresses before levelling off an finishing just below the summit of Tarn Crag. The route allows students to use all manner of belaying techniques - direct belays using slings & karabiners, direct belays merely using the friction of rope on rock (photo three) or body belays where no rock is available. Ellie did an excellent job of leading this scramble whilst being coached along the way by Iain. The weather was excellent today - blue sky, sunshine & dry rock - just what we needed!

The following morning, Iain collected Clym & Ellie from home - there was no point in travelling separately as we were travelling from the same place! We drove over to the Walna Scar Car Park above Coniston where we got ready for a scrambling "journey" to the top of The Old Man of Coniston (the most popular fell-walk in the locality).

We started off with a great little scramble called "The Bell" which is only ten minutes walk from the car park and a great value grade 2 route once again offering all manner of belays and rocky pitches of varying degrees of difficulty and interest. Here, in photo four, Clym short ropes Ellie up one of the easier sections of that route; and once again, the weather couldn't have been better!

Photo five, taken some time later, sees Clym using a direct belay to safeguard Ellie who is scrambling up an exposed slab. This time, we are on a different route - Low Water Beck (grade 3).

Low Water Beck starts about 1 mile beyond the top of The Bell, which we had completed by about 11am. After an early lunch stop we walked across and set off up this route which has all of its difficulty in the lower part where it starts off in the stream before moving up steep slabs to it's right - involving a considerable amount of exposure. This classic Lakes grade 3 scramble takes one up to Low Water - a mountain tarn nestling under the summit of The Old Man of Coniston; and from here one final scramble can be followed to the summit ridge.

The final photo from this report about a Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District sees Clym & Ellie arriving at the top of that final scrambling route.

Brim Fell Slabs rises in a series of rocky steps starting 150 metres from Low Water (the tarn in the background). The route offers great value scrambling with all manner of belay opportunities from body belays to direct belays on some lovely rock. Upon reaching the crest of Brim Fell a sense of real satisfaction is felt in the knowledge that one has arrived on the summit ridge of The Old Man having hardly travelled on any paths along the way! Both Clym & Ellie performed well during this Scrambling Skills Training Course in The Lake District and we wish them the best of luck with their future scrambling forays into the mountains.

Our Scrambling Skills Training Courses can be run in The Lake District, Wales or Scotland. The cost is £80 per person per day and we recommend a two day course allowing you to learn the skills on day one and consolidate them during a second day of scrambling. The price per person includes the provision of helmets harnesses, ropes & scrambling rack; and without exception, you will be coached by a Mountaineering Instructor. Contact us here to book your Scrambling Skills Training Course with us - you won't be disappointed!

Prince's Trust Residential. October 4th - 7th 2016.

October has been a busy month so far at Kendal Mountaineering Services. Iain has been doing a bit of freelance work for other providers and has been involved in delivering outdoor activities for the Yorkshire Prince's Trust Programme during their Autumn Residentials.

So what are these residentials about? Well, The Prince's Trust is a charity set up to help young people aged 13 to 30 who may have been in trouble with The Law; are struggling at school or unemployed and wish to do something positive to turn their lives around. These residentials are part of a programme designed to help such young people develop life skills which will help them along the way - through their Prince's Trust Course and beyond.

These residential weeks are about learning to deal with challenges positively. A group will all come from the same locality and will have probably met for the first time, the week before.

The residential takes them away from home in to a location in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (usually a self catering bunkhouse) where the group will live together and share responsibilities for cooking and cleaning amongst other things. During the day they will try their hand at activities such as Rock Scrambling at Brimham Rocks (photos one and two), caving, Rock Climbing and Hill walking.

What is expected during the residential experience, is that these young people will be willing to try everything no matter how challenging the activity might appear and that they will be expected to work together and support & encourage each other under the guidance of instructors such as Iain.

In photo three the group are trying out Indoor Rock Climbing at Ingleton Wall. By now, they will have already learnt the basic skills required to rock climb and belay each other safely.

Each residential is two and a half days long starting on a Tuesday with an afternoon activity that day. Subsequent days are split into a caving & climbing day and a full day of hill-walking usually done around Malham Cove.

For anyone interested in trying any of these activities, Kendal Mountaineering Services also offer them in The Lake District with prices starting at £45 per person for a half day (four hour) activity Session. Contact us here to book your October Half Term Family Activity Session in The Lake District now. Discounts are applied for Children.

Sunday 2 October 2016

Guided Walking Holidays in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. The next trip - June 24th to July 1st 2017.

This report concerns our new venture for 2016 - guided walking holidays in the Julian Alps of Slovenia based near the town of Bovec. The plan is to try and run one to two of these weeks each year. You can visit the webpage giving full information about these holidays by going here.

Photo one sees our guests on their first evening in Slovenia. Mick & Moira are seated left and Steve & Carole right. Towards the head of the table are Iain's partner Kirstin seated left and our host in Slovenia - Matt is at the head of the table. Evening meals like this one are a feature of this holiday where one can dine out receiving a two course meal with drinks for as little as £20 each; or, you can elect to self cater at the chalet.

Read more about day one on our Facebook page.

On Day two, your walking holiday in The Julian Alps will begin with our walking directly from the Chalet to visit the WW1 fortifications at Celo before continuing on along the Koritnica Valley amidst stunning Alpine Scenery to visit further fortifications at Kluze and Herman before climbing the wooded slopes of Rombon some 300 metres.

This walk then traverses north along the slopes of Rombon towards Bovec where we aim to arrive no later than around 5pm. The views all around the Bovec basin are very pretty. Total distance walked is around 10 km. Read more about day two and view more photos here.

Day three will typically see us attempt to walk a large part of the Soca River Trail.

The Soca rises high in the middle of The Julian Alps near to the Vrsic Pass where it issues from a submerged cave in a narrow ravine a short climb above the road head.

The Soca Trail is a total of 25 km from source to Bovec and it is not possible to cover the whole walking route in one day although a visit to the source (photo three) is a must! Our drop offs and pick-ups are provided by Matt as part of the holiday package and on this particular day, we got dropped off some 15 km from Kal Koritnica and walked back to the chalet.

Walking the banks of this picturesque river through forests filled with flowers interspersed with small farms and chalets is a fantastic experience. Read more about our Soca Trail day here.

Day four will usually see us start to venture higher into the mountains after everyone has "found their feet" over the first three days. There are numerous walks going up to altitudes over 1600 metres (5250 feet). However, if the weather is bad then there are plenty of lower level options. Your guide - Iain will decide what is best for each day.

On this particular day we chose to start lower down as the previous night's rain had led to a fresh coating of snow down to below the 1600 metre level. We walked from the head of the Koritnica Valley started under Jalovec (the snowy peak in the background) through the pretty village of Log Pod Mangrtom and back via forest tracks and meadows to Fort Kluze where we were picked up by Matt. Read more about day four here.

On Day five (Wednesday) it's a day off walking in the mountains to allow you to go and sample all that the area has to offer.

You make just want to take it easy, have a lie and then get up and walk into Bovec via the river to soak up some of the towns charm and European culture and enjoy a coffee or lunch; or you may want to try some of the "other activities" offered by local providers in Bovec. On our day off we all chose to try out the exhilarating Zip-wire course in the nearby Ucja Valley in the morning and then a few of us went tandem paragliding in the afternoon.

Other activities in the area include

  • Rafting, Kayaking and Hydrospeed
  • Canyoning, Rock Climbing and Caving
  • Fishing, Mountain Biking.
So there are plenty of alternatives if you want an "active" day off. Please note the cost of all activities on this day are at your own expense. Read our report from this day here.

On our last few days of your Guided Walking in The Julian Alps of Slovenia we are going to try to take you "higher". Typically, we will drive to the top of the Vrsic Pass (1611 metres/5285 feet) at the tree-line and after a visit to the nearby viewpoint above the pass, we will begin a descent into the Trenta Valley travelling first northwards towards the very head of the valley.

There are excellent views of some of The Julian Alps highest peaks - Prisojnik (2547 m/8356 ft), Bavski Grintavec (2347 m/5249 ft) and Jalovec (2645 m/8678 ft) and as we continue northwards, the summit of Triglav (2864 m/9369 ft) - the highest mountain in The Julian Alps come also into view.

Our route eventually descends through woodland to the valley floor and we continue on past Izvir Soca where there is an opportunity to indulge yourself with a well earned bottle of Lasko (the national Lager of Slovenia) before continuing a further 4 km to Trenta where we will be collected by Matt. Total distance on this day is likely to around 12 km with a descent of around 1000 m/3280 ft) Read more about day six of your Guided Walking Holiday in Slovenia here.

As with the previous day, out final day of walking in The Julian Alps will be aimed as getting you as high as possible to get a real feel for the Alpine atmosphere that the area presents.

Our walk will most likely start and finish in the Trenta area. On our last trip, we walked in towards Triglav and then turned north up a narrow valley under a tremendous Limestone wall (where we saw Ibex) as we climbed upwards towards our high point - the col at Cez Dol (1632 m/5353 ft).

From The Cez Dol, we have a fantastic view in both directions - back towards the summit of Triglav towering over the head of the valley and also north along the south side of the ridge bounding the Soca Valley.

Our descent is through a beautiful meadow and then on steeply down through forests back to Trenta where the local co-operative can supply you with another well earned beer and ice cream. Read about our final day in The Julian Alps here.

Our last night will be spent in a restaurant in the locality or in Bovec celebrating the achievements of the week before one rises early on the Saturday morning for Matt to transfer you the two hours back to Marco Polo Airport near Venice.

Our Guided Walking Holidays in Slovenia give you a unique opportunity to enjoy the stunning scenery the area has to offer whilst in the care of an English Guide and  chalet owner with unrivalled knowledge of all that the area has to offer.

We are now taking bookings for our next visit and hope you can join us. Contact us here to book your place on our next Guided Walking Holiday in The Julian Alps of Slovenia. We look forward to working with you!

Saturday 1 October 2016

Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District. September 2016 and beyond!

We've been out a few times in September teaching Navigation Skills Courses. Our most recent course was last Saturday (photo one ) when Iain had a day out with Pam Barnes who was fed up with getting lost in the hills. By the end of her one day course with Iain Pam had learnt to

  • Orientate the map to assist with identifying what was around her.
  • Measure distance on the map in both 1:25'000 and 1:50'000 scales and then be able to pace distance on the ground.
  • Find an eight figure Grid Reference on the map and also be able to give one. This is extremely useful if you have to call Mountain Rescue for assistance. Giving any Search & Rescue Organisation a grid reference will greatly assist them in finding you - quickly!
  • Use a compass to walk on a bearing. Essential in poor visibility and useful if you are unsure of your route and want to check the direction.
  • Use the compass to identify an unknown feature from a known location.
  • Use a timings system (Naismith's Rule) to work out how long it should take her to walk between grid references on a walking route.
Pam paid just £160 with Iain for her day out "one on one" with an experienced Mountaineering Instructor and considered it worth every penny for the Navigation Skills that she had picked up.

The previous weekend Iain had spent two full days out with Simon Walker and his mates Jon & Mark teaching them Navigation Skills in the Kentmere area of the southern Lake District.

Over the course of the weekend, Simon, Jon & Mark covered everything that Pam covered with Iain last Saturday as outlined above but their course was run over two days - is this better?

We recommend that your Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District with us should be two days long! This is because....

  • If the course is spread over two days this allows a more gradual take-up of the information you'll be given about Navigation Skills Training during your course. We often find people get tired by mid afternoon on day one and start to make frustrating mistakes.
  • A two day course allows for consolidation of learning of skills taken on day one with some additional skills input on day two.
  • The second day of one of our Two Day Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District will be done in a different area at a higher altitude than on day one giving a real "expedition" feel to the course. There is also the likelihood that on higher fells, you'll encounter the bad visibility needed to put the skills you've learnt to the test! This happened to Simon, Jon & Mark on their course and impacted meaningfully on their skills training!
Our next Navigation Skills Training Weekend will now be run during November 26th & 27th 2016. There are eight places still available on this weekend course - superb value at only £80 per person for the two day course. These courses are ideal for anyone preparing for a Summer Mountain Walking Leader Assessment or Re-assessment! Maps are provided. Contact us to book your place now! We look forward to working with you!

Guided Fell Walking Days in The Lake District. September 23rd 2016. The Langdale Pikes.

Just over a week ago, Iain spent a day in the mountains with Gemma Gowers who was staying in Grasmere for a long weekend. Gemma had never been walking in the high mountains of The Lake District before and had booked a Guided Fell Walking Day through Hayley Webb Mountain Adventures who passed the work on to us. Thanks Hayley.

Iain decided to take Gemma away from Grasmere since parking there is very limited parking there - unless you want to pay a fortune. So instead, we went to Langdale and The Langdale Pikes. Photo one sees a very pleased Gemma on her first summit of the day - Pike O' Stickle.

The weather was good today - a bit of a strong southerly breeze, but as the day wore on, the cloud lifted and we could see for miles around as this group of fells are pretty central to The Lake District.

We had started our day by heading up the side of Dungeon Gill, on over loft Crag to Pike O' Stickle and then up on to Harrison Stickle - the main summit of The Langdale Pikes.

From here, we turned north and walked, via Thunacar Knott to High Raise (photo two) - the highest mountain on this central Lake District Ridge at the very centre of The Lake District. Iain had last been on this summit only a little over a week earlier!

From High Raise, we then headed south east only a fairly short distance to Sergeant Man which is a pretty little summit barely standing proud of the High Raise plateau. Seen from near to Stickle Tarn Sergeant Man's summit buttress looks imposing and inviting. This was our fourth Lake District Summit of the day and the aim was to get to the outflow of Stickle Tarn (in the background in photo three) for no later than 3 pm.

We headed down the shoulder between Sergeant Man & Blea Rigg for a way so that Gemma could get a view of the hidden Codale Tarn that she had been unable to see when she had walked up to Easedale Tarn the previous day and then turned right to reach Stickle Tarn.

Our final photo from this post about a Guided Walk around The Langdale Pikes sees Gemma with the valley of Langdale beyond as we descended from Stickle Tarn towards the car park at the Sticklebarn Tavern.

Today had been quite a challenging day for Gemma who had been a little nervous about being on exposed ground. She had done brilliantly though and had thoroughly enjoyed her walk amongst some of The Lake Districts best known mountains.

In total, we covered almost six miles on our Lake District Fell Walk taking in five Wainwright Summits, the total ascent made during the day 813 m (2667 feet) and our descent was 788 m or 2585 feet.

Kendal Mountaineering Services provide Guided Fell Walking in The Lake District, Wales and Scotland in both Summer & Winter Conditions. To find out more visit the website here. To make a booking - contact us here, we look forward to working with you!