Navigation Skills Course

On Sunday I ran a map and compass skills course for 5 clients from London. The group were all people who had moved to the UK to live and work. They were from diverse parts of the world including India, Italy, Australia, Russia and New Zealand.

The course was held in Tring which is part of the Chilterns AONB

http://www.chilternsaonb.org.

As a group we enjoyed a glorious sunny day with stunning view across the Chilterns. All of the group were excellent learners and really grasped the basics of using a map and compass to navigate around the countryside and to be able to plan there own walks in future.

Thanks for a great day to Jo,James,Anya,Claudia and George.

Here are a few photos from the day –

Walkers and Paddlers
Walkers and Paddlers
Lunch Stop
Lunch Stop
Group relocating
Group relocating
Identifying a Grid Reference
Identifying a Grid Reference
Navigation Ninjas !!
Navigation Ninjas !!
The path is here somewhere
The path is here somewhere

Kilimanjaro Meet up Part 1

In October 2016 I will be taking 30 clients to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. On Saturday the first of two meet ups was held to allow the group to get together and meet for the first time. On this occasion 16 people were able to attend for the day.

After an inital meet up at Go Outdoors in Coventry to discuss clothing and equipment for the trip, we then went on a 9 mile walk around the Warwickshire countryside.

After the walk finished we returned to the Strawberry Bank Hotel in Meriden for a further kit talk during which I gave a brief lecture on kit I would be using on Kilimanjaro based on my previous trip.

Following this the group then enjoyed a well deserved meal at the hotel.

Overall the day was a great success and allowed everybody to meet up and ask lots of questions about the trip.

Here are few photos from the day –

k1

k2

k3

k4

k5

Lowland Leader Training Day

This weekend I visited the Peak District with 11 friends for a walking weekend. One of the group, Neil is working towards attaining the Lowland Leader qualification – http://www.mountain-training.org/walking/skills-and-awards/lowland-leader.

The weekend gave Neil the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in learning to lead a group walking. Our route started in a small village south of Buxton called Longnor. From here we walked south through the gritstone landscape passing the remains of Pilsbury Castle an Iron Age Fort onto Hartington.

Hartington Village Square
Hartington Village Square

After a short stop we continued further South where the geology of the landscape changed to limestone and the stunning Wolfscale Dale.

The start of the narrow limestone valley.
The start of the narrow limestone valley.

IMG_5433

IMG_20041101_085222

The walk then continued onto Wetton Mill and the Manifold Trail.

Descending towards Wetton Mill.
Descending towards Wetton Mill.
Lunch Stop
Lunch Stop

We then followed the Manifold Valley Trail to Hulme End and beyond returning to Longnor for a well deserved pint after 21 miles of walking.

Sunset
Sunset
Neil - The Leader
Neil – The Leader
Great view to end a Great day.
Great view to end a Great day.
The final leg
The final leg

BEL Assessment – Cotswolds

This weekend I have been working on a Basic Expedition Leader Assessment down in the Cotswolds.

During the Assessment the 10 candidates were tested on their knowledge and practical application of navigation,group leadership,campcraft and cooking.

Well done to all the groups who successfully gained their Level 3 Basic Expedition Leader Award.

Sunrise over the Campsite at 7am.
Sunrise over the Campsite at 7am.
Navigation in the Woods
Navigation in the Woods
Inquisitive Sheep
Inquisitive Sheep
Near the End
Near the End

Snowdonia

This week I have been up in Snowdonia working with several schools.On Monday I took a group of girls from a London School on a navigation day around the lower slopes of Snowdon in preparation for there forthcoming D of E expedition. During the day we walked across open land looking at the skills required to navigate in poor visibility on featureless terrain.

Pacing and Timing Practice
Pacing and Timing Practice
Llyn Llydaw
Llyn Llydaw

I have also been working with a group of boys from a school in Kent as an assessor on there Gold D of E expedition. The boys chose an ambitious route for there 4 day expedition taking in all the major mountain ranges in Northern Snowdonia – Carnneddau, Glyderau and Snowdon.

Y Garn and Llyn Ogwen from the A5
Y Garn and Llyn Ogwen from the A5
Glyderau
Glyderau
Waiting for the Team on Glyder Fawr summit
Waiting for the Team on Glyder Fawr summit

On Wednesday I ascended Snowdon via the Watkin path in order top meet the boys as they climbed Snowdon from the opposite side on the Ranger Path.

Final climb onto South Ridge of Snowdon
Final climb onto South Ridge of Snowdon
Snowdon Summit Cafe
Snowdon Summit Cafe
Looking back towards the Watkin Path
Looking back towards the Watkin Path

After meeting the boys on the summit I descended down the Rhyd-Ddu path to Bwlch Cwm Llan to meet up at there planned wild camp spot by a small lake.

Looking towards the Rhyd ddu path
Looking towards the Rhyd ddu path
Wild Camp in the distance below Yr Aran to the left of the two lakes
Wild Camp in the distance below Yr Aran to the left of the two lakes
Wild Camp at Bwlch Cwm Llan
Wild Camp at Bwlch Cwm Llan

Duke of Edinburgh Season

Over the past 3 weeks I have been very busy working on several D of E expeditions at Bronze,Silver and Gold Levels. The work has taken me to the Surrey Hills, Chilterns, Wokingham and Cannock Chase. During the period I have worked with pupils from London Oratory School, Queen Elizabeth Girls School – Barnet, Abbey Hill Special School – Stoke on Trent and Great Marlow School.

Here are a few pictures from the trips.

German War Cemetery - Cannock Chase
German War Cemetery – Cannock Chase
Memorial to German Zeppelin Crews
Memorial to German Zeppelin Crews
Leith Hill Woods
Leith Hill Woods
Top of Leith Hill
Top of Leith Hill
Route Planning in the Rain
Route Planning in the Rain

Walking out of Cannock Chase
Walking out of Cannock Chase
Navigating through the Crops
Navigating through the Crops

Gold D of E – Brecon Beacons

This week I have spent 4 days up in the sunny Brecon Beacons working on a Gold D of E Qualifying expedition with Windsor High School.

I have been working as an assessor/supervisor with 7 young people who were completing the final stage of there expedition phase for there Gold D of E.

On the first day we met up and discussed there route planning for the next 4 days and what was expected of the group during this time.

The format for each day would be to meet my group in camp at the beginning and end of each day. During there expedition I would meet the group at several identified checkpoints throughout the day to check on there progress and welfare.

During the expedition the team walked over several mountains including Pen Y fan, Corn Du, Fan Llia and Fan Dringarth.

Whilst waiting on the summit top to checkpoint one of the other teams out on the hill I witnessed a large group of local gym enthusiasts ascend Pen Y Fan and proceed to hold a tug of war contest on the top. I can safely say I have not witnessed an event like this on a mountain before.

Start of Climb up to Pen Y Fan
Start of Climb up to Pen Y Fan
Looking along the ridge towards Graig Fan Ddu
Looking along the ridge towards Graig Fan Ddu
The team on top of Pen Y Fan
The team on top of Pen Y Fan
Tug of War
Tug of War

As a supervisor and assessor I like to get out onto the tops and walk in to meet my teams. On this day I got to climb Pen Y Fan twice in the morning and then early evening watching the ever changing light conditions as the sun set.

Late evening light on Pen Y Fan
Late evening light on Pen Y Fan
A checkpoint in the distance - Cadair Fawr
A checkpoint in the distance – Cadair Fawr
Emily looking towards Pen Y Fan in the distance
Emily looking towards Pen Y Fan in the distance
Crossing the Afon Hepste
Crossing the Afon Hepste

Whilst walking in wild country it is always nice to stop and talk to local farmers as you pass through and over there land. At this particular farm they were cutting up a 120ft tree which had been blown over in storms on Boxing day narrowly missing the farmer and his family whilst in the farmyard.

Tree blown over by Boxing day winds
Tree blown over by Boxing day winds
Final checkpoint on Fan Llia
Final checkpoint on Fan Llia

The expedition was a great success and all of the team were successful. It was a pleasure to work with such a motivated and fun group who were always smiling and laughing no matter how tough the trip was at times.

Thanks to all the team and there teacher Emily for making the 4 days such a memorable experience.