‘Tis the season to explore…….

Explore our capabilities that is.

For some the season never goes away however many take stock as the autumn months approach and review their summer experiences, plan for next year or perhaps the coming winter.

Having had the summer off to discover new areas such as the Brecon Beacons, bits of The Lake District that I had neglected in the past and a couple of weeks of lofty Alpine climbing activities, I am about to start teaching in the hills again. Mountain Leader Assessment and Training are the serious end of the business with courses run by Andy Brown and with myself enlisted as an expert hand on the job.

In addition I will be teaching Hill Skills and Navigation for Cumbria County Council on their Community Learning and Skills courses – evening classes to those of a certain age – based at Shap and Carlisle. These courses are run over five evenings and include a night navigation session plus a long half day on the hill to put it all into practice.

Thursday, 21st September 6pm-8.30pm (last session will be a 5.5hour walk)

At Pennine Way CDC

Cost £60.00 (concession £30.00)

Tuesday 3rd October 6pm-8.30pm (last session will be a 5.5hour walk)

At Eden CLAS(Shap Primary School)

Cost £59.40 (concession £29.70)

As ever, should you wish to add to your mountain capabilities or simply enjoy a good walk, feel free to get in touch.


Muckle Toon Adventure Festival

MTAF has a huge following in the Borders. Those of you who have never been to Langholm – The Muckle Toon – have a delight awaiting them. Rolling hills and winding valleys, wildlife and a great historical context make it a genuine little gem.

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or outdoor all-rounder there’s something to see and do at this weekend festival.

Come and meet the locals, sign up for an event or workshop or chill out and enjoy the spectacle.

I am running two hour navigation workshops on Sunday 18th June. Dogs and children are welcome when accompanied by a well-behaved adult.

£10.00 including T-shirt!


I want to be a Mountain Leader

I am asked quite often how to become qualified to take groups out on the hills. Sometimes people just want to confirm a higher level of personal skill.
OK, ML. Actually ML (summer). The main website for Mountain Training is here: http://www.mountain-training.org/walking/skills-and-awards/mountain-leader
In summary, you think about what kind of work you want to do and what qualification is necessary. MLs is widely respected and pretty much covers everything in the hills in GB except rock climbing and winter mountains. Obviously though not canoeing, mountain biking and the like.
You can do other, lesser, hill skills qualifications but no cheaper and not worth missing out on the full deal.
You need to have experience in at least three major UK mountain areas. These would be The Lakes, Scotland and Wales although The Peak, Dartmoor and Northern Ireland count as well.
You register on the scheme with Mountain Training and fill in a log book. This would show your experience in mountains going back as long as you can remember. The minimum number of Quality Mountain Days (QMDs) to attend a training course would be 20.

Continue reading “I want to be a Mountain Leader”

Muckle Toon Adventure Festival

Hill Skills and Navigation Workshop.

Two separate groups (13 budding navigators in total) made the route around Whita Hill learning how to use a map and compass and getting the low-down on the tricks of the navigators trade.

An information and instruction packed 90 minutes around Whita Hill. The happy participants made it back to the MTAF Base Camp. Maps and compasses must have worked then!


Base camp. Ten clients.

Thanks to Dawn and everyone from Langholm for a successful weekend.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn

A border raid yesterday. Over to the Galloways, picked up Drew at Dalbeattie and a scenic drive to Carsphairn. (Red Kites spotted on the way). Parked up at Green Well of Scotland.

Weather not improving very quickly but nothing drastic, raining all the same. Cairnsmore of Carsphairn (or Deugh) is an easy Corbett comfortably taking just over four hours up and down (strolling actually). An easy track then across some grassy slopes to the west ridge thence an ascent into the cloud to the summit cairn and Trig point. Some kind of monitoring gizmo parked at the top. A quick bearing off the top and soon out of the cloud and rain and back to the van. Drew very impressed with his ascent as he was thinking earlier he wouldn’t manage it. I used the “How do you eat an elephant” tactic.

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In the Border hills

An afternoon and evening hills. Between Newcastleton and Langholm there’s a big expanse of open moorland intersected by burns running over the underlying sandstone. There are numerous small falls but occasionally you come across something more spectacular. Blackburn Falls is one such. Infrequently visited it has a sense of special remoteness.

Following my walk to the falls I met up with Paul and Dave for a navigation refresher course. Paul is training for the Bob Graham round in August and wanted to sharpen his nav skills.

Great country for learning and finished before dark.
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Mountain Leader Training April 2016

ML Training weekend one based at Buttermere YHA with Andy Brown’s Adventures:http://www.adventures.org.uk/.

Six prospective Mountain Leaders were introduced to the genuine delights of the Buttermere valley.

Two days of spectacular walking weather were enjoyed with a shakedown afternoon ascent of High Snockrigg and Robinson from the YHA on Friday descending to Hassness and a stroll along the lake shore to return.

On Saturday we ascended Red Pike via Bleaberry Tarn and a pleasant scramble to the north of Chapel Crags. During lunch and a brew up we had a discussion about emergency procedure.
Along the ridge southwards then to High Stile and a lovely ridge descent to Birkness Combe, Buttermere shore and back to the YHA.
Well done Sam, Arran, Rhys, Dave, Simon and Alex. Ropework and steep ground training next and looking forward to the expedition phase.

Acsent of High Snockrigg Ascent to Bleaberry Tarn Buttermere and Warnscale Red Pike and High Stile from above Hassness

A day in the sun.

10th April 2016. Carlisle Mountaineering Club newcomers meet on Shepherd’s Crag, Borrowdale.


A very cold start down the valley with a hard frost and a good covering of snow quite low on the fells. In bright sunshine the views were spectacular. Everyone we met said what a a great day it was. Uplifting!

15 turned up for the meet. Well done to those setting a fine example. Many were existing members but made a good show to newcomers and made them welcome to the club. Lot’s of routes done despite the cold rock and lower pitches being damp. However the rock warmed up and dried out quickly to give a taste of this great crag at its best. Easily accessible and lots of grades to choose from the sheltered nature in the easterly breeze made it feel like summer.

Looking forward to many more days like this in the coming months. For more CMC meet information click on this link: http://www.carlislemc.co.uk/downloads/meets-list.html

Another Fine Day

Another fine day. Thursday 25th Feb. Seathwaite, Grains Ghyll, Great End, Cust’s Gully, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Corridor Route, Sty Head, Taylorgill. Met  Alan Hinkes on the top of Great End. Seven climbers on the crag. Four walkers without any winter gear one of which on his backside at the top of Ruddy Gill – liability! Having said that I heard on FB of a faller at the foot of Cust’s area. Maybe it’s not the gear it’s the ability?
Excellent conditions on the ground with hard snow. Good visibility.Hoping it lasts until Easter!
Teamed up with Peter Jessop and had a good crack all the way round.


Ski Day in Heaven

Helvellyn 20 Jan 2016

The forecast held true.

An opportunity for some ski touring action. Another perfect weather day in the Lakes!
With Andy Brown and Eva. From Thirlspot lay-by via Swirls, Under Brown Cove Crags up to the top of Lower Man. 650ft descent on steepish terrain then up to Whiteside. A little crusty and lumpy on top but piste like surface for most of the 1000ft+ descending blast down Whiteside Bank at the end.
Everywhere looks skiable. A shame there’s a mild spell coming.

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