29 March 2009

Best foot forward

I never did manage to get out in a boat this weekend, but I have just got back from a lovely walk in the fells that lie in between Thirlmere and Derwent Water. The weather was absolutely splendid and made the early start seem less of a chore.

Looking down Thirlmere from it's western shore.

We started off on the western shore of Thirlmere and made our way along the permitted footpath, along the majority of the lake, until Launchy Gill entered on the right. We followed the trail up the side of this Lakeland gill before crossing the watercourse by the interesting wooden structure provided by United Utilities.

Launchy Gill dropping over a large waterfall as it makes it's way into Thirlmere in the background.

The path started to fizzle out, but we carried on upstream, using the gill as our handrail until we appeared out in the open fells. We made another crossing of the gill and continued tracing it's course until a wall was met. A bearing was taken here and off we headed away from any real landmarks in the hope of reaching the 479m high summit of Armboth Fell. With this accomplished we did much the same to reach the summit of High Tove and then High Seat, before finally picked our way along to Bleaberry Fell.

Looking across to the northern tip of the Helvellyn massif from Threefooted Brandreth.

From the 590m high summit of Bleaberry Fell a bearing was taken once again so we could track off across country to pick up a watercourse, which steeply dropped into Shoulthwaite Gill at the bottom of the valley.

Looking up Shoulthwaite Gill.

Once at river level we followed the water on its downstream progression to a footbridge, before tracking back upstream along the other bank to a point where we could make an assault on Castle Crag Fort. A quick rest was had here before the summit of Raven Crag was taken in.

Looking down Thirlmere from the top of Raven Crag.

A descent was made from here back down to Thirlmere and then home for tea and medals.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

27 March 2009

Climbing and Paddling

Lectures have now finished for Easter so I've got plenty of free time, as long as I'm not working. The past two day's I have been doing exactly that; working over at Whinlatter Forest Park making sure people were safe whilst having fun on their very own little high wire forest adventure.

The main Sourmilk boulder.

Thursday evening saw me trying to minimise my fuel consumption by staying over in the Lakes and to while away the night I tried to get some climbing in at the Sourmilk boulders in the Borrowdale Valley. The only flaw to this plan was the weather. After slipping off the rock more times than you could count, I gave up and drove back to Carlisle instead of sleeping the night in the van.

Landing flat at the bottom of the first major set of drops on the Meig.

Sat in one of the amazing caverns on the Meig.

On the way home tonight, after the first day of paying customers at work, I collected some photos of the jaunt up to Scotland last weekend and one or two of them have made there way into this post. As for the coming two days; who knows. I might try and get out in a boat and make use of the precipitation that ruined my climbing plans, or Sunday looks quite good for a ramble in the fells.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

25 March 2009

Bouldering at The Beacon

Mungo is Angry (V2 5c)

The Beacon sits to the east of Penrith and towers majestically over the second least populated un-parished area after Berwick-upon-Tweed. Upon it's eastward spur is Cowrake Quarry, which is made of red Penrith sandstone.

The quarry is nowhere more than seven meters high and is ideal for the odd hour of bouldering when the sun is shining. The past two days have seen me frequented the quarry, with pad in hand to while away a couple of hours in between lectures and such like.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

23 March 2009

Three days with Wild River

Since Friday morning I've been out of touch with civilisation because I've been busy on a three day course with
Wild River. On the first day we hit the Leven for a day of rescue training to fulfill the rescue element of the new 5 Star Kayak Leader award, which the BCU rolled out a year ago. Then we all piled into the Wild River bus and drove north for a good distance before stopping just outside Aberfeldy at the Adventurer's Escape bunkhouse.

The next day we were up bright and early and on the road again in the hope of putting on the Findhorn sometime that morning to fulfill the personal skills and leadership training elements of the award.

Eventually on the river late Saturday morning.

The director of Asia Pacific Adventure providing safety and then running the last two drops of Triple Step.

On a charging arc to clear the hole.

I'd been on the Findhorn once before and that was back in April 2007 and surprisingly enough I remembered the river amazingly well. This may have been aided by the fact that the level was pretty similar. However, this descent was much more enjoyable than the last. The paddling was slick and the group moved down the river with amazing efficiency only getting out of the boat once to scout a section of Triple Step. Just how I like to paddle. The day was rounded off with one more 'speed' descent of the river lasting about 50 minutes before getting back on the road again and heading further north.

Saturday night saw us parked up at the side of Loch Meig in a convenient layby and the standard of accommodation dropped considerably when compared to the previous night; we resorted to tents, bivy bags and hammocks. This did allow us to be up at first light the next morning to hit the river.

The first series of drops on the Meig.

Wild River leaving the Tea Cup of Tea Cup Falls.

The impressive rock archway.

Coming to the end of the gorge.

We managed one descent of this classic. It must have been one of the best experiences I've had on a river, but it still had some way to go to beat the exploration mission on the Abhainn an Fhasaigh a month earlier. The paddling was just what I liked: low volume, tight and technical pool drop where boofs were a plenty. There were some minor hiccups on the river, like me calling the group down believing that everything was good to find that we were all dropping into a pool with no exit. It all got quickly sorted, but this wasn't until three of us had all dropped into the small pool to find the minor error in my leadership. There was one other instance where I had to take a swim so that I could access the bank and quickly scout another drop so that the rest of the group could run it blind. As I said a classic.

Being up so early had it's advantages. It allowed us to get an early start on the river, but also offered up opportunities for further paddling if the personal skills and leadership training had not been fully covered. However, all was good and we were able to make early in rodes into the 290m drive back to Cumbriashire.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

18 March 2009

It's b-e-u-tiful outside

Walking along the banks of the River Eden at Armathwaite.

A band of high pressure sits over the north sea meaning that we're experiencing some rather delightful weather. Well it's delightful depending on how you look at it. In one instance it ain't that great as this weekend was and still is my 5 Star Kayak Leader training, which is having to be held on the Findhorn up near Inverness instead of in Cumbria, because of the dry conditions. However, in another instance it just can't be better...

The pad cushioning a rock inconveniently placed at the bottom of the Exorcist (V2).

I had a presentation to do today at university on the weather hence the spiel about high pressure and such like above. This did however free up my afternoon so on the drive back to Carlisle I called in at Armathwaite with my new bouldering pad in hand to crack out a few problems.

Going to slap an awkward side pull in the hope that it will stick on a problem (V3) to the left of the Exorcist.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

14 March 2009

Further on up the Road...

Further on up the road
Where the way is dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know
And I'll meet you further on up the road

- Bruce Springsteen, Further on (Up the Road).
I've covered a fair few miles this week what with driving to and from university at the beginning of the week and then at the end, driving to and from Whinlatter Forest Park, over in the north-western corner of the National Park. The reason I've been over there is because I've now started my instructor training for Adventure Forest Ltd., which is better known as Go Ape and is where I'll be working from now until the end of October. The training doesn't finish until the 27th March, but from now until then I'm not only on the instructor training, but also juggling university, assessments and a 5 Star Kayak Leader training course. However, today I managed to get myself over to Head End Quarry and finish off my prerequisites for my SPA.

The van parked up at the quarry entrance.

It wasn't such a bad afternoon of climbing. It looked like the weather had crapped out on us as when we were driving to the quarry we had the windscreen wipers on, but it all came good; the sun came out, which kept us warm in what was quite a strong wind.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

08 March 2009

Back on line...

My weekend panned out very like what was forecast at the end of Friday's post. I managed to get a presentation written on a weather map on Saturday and then today I managed to get out for that paddle. It wasn't looking like paddling would be a good idea after a fairly long dry spell, but many hours on the Internet looking at various forecasts and phoning the odd EA gauge left me with a vague idea that the River Kent was rising from a super low level. How much it would have risen by Sunday morning was any one's guess.

On arriving at the Kent it looked good to go. There was enough water in it. In fact it was on a good medium level and the sections we had a quick peak at all looked sweet; apart from Force Falls. On inspecting this drop from the roadside we could see a twig bobbing around in the hole at the bottom of the fall. It was as if something bigger and meaner was lurking below the water, which had either trapped the twig on its journey downstream or was connected to the twig and was stuck in the base of the drop. After this things got a bit vague, but we eventually ended up getting in our boats at the top of the Leven.

Through the meat of the small 2m drop after the Brick Chute Weir.

At the bottom of the Graveyard.

Running down the face of the last big weir.

I've run this river a lot recently. I was on it the other week at super low levels on the first day of my 4* Kayak Leader Assessment and then a couple of months before that. That particular trip sits well in my memory as I walked the drop under Backbarrow Bridge. It was the first time I had done this since running the bottom half of the Leven and I think this approach to running the rapid had come from the visit prior to that one. I had got totally lost in the cascading water meaning that I ended up just hanging in and hoping I'd hit a reasonable line. The line I ended up on resulted in a bit of a trashing against the side of the bridge.

Today, on the drive to the bottom of the river we stopped for a peak at the monster and I, for the first time in a long while, stood and looked at the drop properly and worked it all out from scratch instead of relying on odds and ends I had read in guidebooks or online. When it came to running the drop I hit my line, got a lovely dry head and was able to sit at the bottom and watch a wee bit of carnage unfold. I have been told in the past not to sensationalise Backbarrow Bridge, but you just can't help it after such a bad record with a drop that does require some degree of skill and respect. Hitting my line today did my confidence some good, but still, being in a boat doesn't feel as good as it used to.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

06 March 2009

Half a blade

The boats lined up on the northern shore of Ullswater.

It's been a while since I posted something on a Friday after a day working on my Practical Outdoor Activities module. The main reason for this is that, with one thing and another, I've missed the odd day of activities, but also the module is coming to an end. Today, was the last day of activities for this module and we couldn't have asked for much better really. The activity in question was canoeing and the venue was the River Eamont, which flows out of Ullswater, through Pooley Bridge and finally ends when it joins the River Eden somewhere around Penrith.

Warming up on the lake.

I've never really done much canoeing before, sure I've dabbled in kayaking now and again, but as for canoeing I've never seen the attraction and to be honest I still don't. It just seems really pain full and goes against a lot of the stuff we try and stay away from when kayaking. There seems to be a lot of ropes dangling around in the boats and loads of bits to get yourself stuck on if you were upside down in the drink. I'm sure it's all fine and dandy, but it just seemed a little sketchy to me.

Ferry gliding below Pooley Bridge's bridge.

I did however enjoy myself, mainly because the weather was so nice, and I got to experience the delights of the mighty River Eamont. A grade two, at most, bumble starting off with some extraordinary views into the heart of the Lake District, but ending in the hubbub of urbanisation.

Paddling downstream.

Descending the weir just before the M6 crosses the river.

I'm not really sure what the weekend entails. Saturday might be spent in doors wading through three different assignments I've got on the go and then on Sunday I'll try and get out. That could be on a trip to the River Kent and hopefully the Leven as well, but also could be a jaunt in the hills, or even a climb on some rock. O, the decisions.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

05 March 2009

Some walking for a change

I managed to get out and do something I've not done in a long time; get into the heart of Cumbria and have a bit of a stroll around the Lakeland Fells. Of late the weather has been relatively mild meaning that much of the snow from a couple of weeks back has melted, but temperatures have started to drop again and the fluffy, white stuff has tried to make a reappearance.

Looking up Ullswater towards Glenridding and Patterdale.

My walk started off just south of Ullswater in Patterdale and from here I made a speedy get away from the road before making an ascending traverse of Patterdale Common to Boredale Hause.

Looking west from Boredale Hause.

From here I headed in a southerly direction so that I could pass the flanks of the two Angletarn Pikes before resting on the eastern shore of Angle Tarn.

Looking west across Angle Tarn.

Continuing on in a roughly south-easterly direction through the snow covered fells brought me to a junction of paths just west of Satura Crag.

Looking north-west from Satura Crag.

A bearing was quickly taken here and off I headed, across snow covered country, for the summit of Rest Dodd, where I fittingly took a rest before descending to the col at 600m and then climbing back up to 739m to summit The Knott.

Looking across to The Knott from Rest Dodd.

From here I retraced my steps for some 200m before heading west so that I could descend down to Hayeswater and then follow the outflow downstream to Hartsop and then back along the valley to Patterdale.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...