A Walk Around Kentmere

Liz and I took a blue sky walk over the western hills of Kentmere yesterday – Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick and Thornthwaite Crag followed by a descent through the valley at sunset. The views were gorgeous and the light was beautiful but the best thing of all was too fast to catch on camera – a majestic stag appeared over the horizon and ran swiftly out of sight into the valley of Mardale.


Quartz vein, moss & lichen


Moss Close Up


Lichen Close Up


Liz walking towards Thornthwaite Crag


Looking back towards Ill Bell


Yoke, Ill Bell & Froswick


Posted: October 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Van life, route setting and adventure education.

Living in a van is great for low costs, a low carbon footprint and working in the mountains. My high top, long wheel base Transit has enough space for a sink, hob, kitchen utensils, food box, cool box, water tank, wood burning stove, wood store, double bed, personal kit and all the equipment for Mountain Magic courses – ice axes, crampons, harnesses, helmets, waterproofs, climbing hardware, ropes, tents, maps, guidebooks and so on. However, 600 CDs, CD decks, DJ mixer, amplifier, speakers, boxes of books, two bikes and a big bag of clothes are in need of a place to stay for this chapter in my life.

Thanks to some very kind friends, Lancaster cellars have been great since the spring but they are notoriously damp and winter is coming. So, last week I went on a mission to deposit my surplus belongings in my mother’s dry loft. Since she lives over 300 miles away in Dorset, it was great to spend a day with her and I was lucky to find some work on the way down south too. Setting and testing 24 new routes from French 4 to 7b at Big Rock in Milton Keynes, I wasn’t exactly climbing fit but my shoulder is a few more steps along the long road to recovery since I injured it in the summer.

It’s good to be back in the Lake District this week. Working with teenagers from Manchester and Oldham, we have been scrambling over limestone rocks by the sea, jumping over tidal channels in muddy Morecambe bay, exploring tunnels and caverns in old slate mines, climbing in teams on high ropes courses, developing excellent teamwork on a low ropes course and building a raft from rope, planks and barrels. After two great days of adventure education work at Castle Head Field Studies Centre, I have a day off tomorrow, the forecast looks good and we are going out to play in the mountains.

Posted: October 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Lessons For Life

Two days ago, I was working with year 7 children at a Field Studies Council outdoor education center in the Lake District. Our activities for the day were a low ropes course, an obstacle course and team games.

I was also working with Becki, who is very good at engaging the attention of children. Animated and enthusiastic, she learns their names and can draw them into a quiet huddle where they will all listen at once.

The low ropes course is like a ‘Go Ape’ high ropes course but close to the ground. It included stepping stones, tight ropes, a cargo net, see-saws, balance beams and swinging platforms for the children to cross without touching the ground.

There was a wide range of ability in the group, including two small girls and two autistic boys who found the course to be quite an adventure. The scope for building confidence was plain to see as the children pushed themselves through challenges with a good deal of success.

One of the little girls went last on a crossing and her short arms couldn’t reach from one rope to the next whilst she balanced on a steel cable. Just one of her taller team members would have been able to cross behind her and help. It was a poignant moment that demonstrated the importance of good teamwork.

Moving onto the obstacle course, teamwork was actively promoted by splitting the group into small teams. Each team was given a length of rope to hold with at least one hand at all times, forcing the children to slow down, pay attention to each other’s needs and communicate effectively.

After scrambling over, stooping under and wriggling through several logs, branches, plastic tubes and a cargo net stuck to the ground, the teamwork and communication amongst the children improved noticeably. The finale was a climb over a 6-foot wall, where the whole team came back together with lots of lifting, pulling, encouragement and support.

In the evening, I was supervising ‘Marble Run’, a game where each team member stands in a line and holds a length of open tube for the marble to roll along. Getting the marble from the start to finish requires the person at the back of the line to move swiftly to the front and so on. If the marble is touched or falls to the floor, the team must start again. It’s easy when everyone knows how.

Learning the skills and communicating them throughout a success hungry team of 12 people whilst under considerable time pressure is quite a challenge, especially for 10 and 11 year old children pressured to learn maths, english and science every day. The teams who were able to listen to each other and remain positive in the face of failure succeeded.

Some themes emerged from the day: adventure, balance, challenge, communication, confidence, coordination, encouragement, failure, positivity, success, support and teamwork. It’s wonderful to see children learning about these and I hope they will continue in their day-to-day lives at home and in school.

Posted: October 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
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