Skills in the sunshine above Elterwater

Walking with; Nathan

Ever since I completed my initial Mountain Leader training I have been living in fear! It is one of the most ambitious and intimidating things I have undertaken in my adult life and involved a number of aspects that would lift me well clear of my hill walking comfort zone. However, my jaw is set and my mind is made up and I am determined that this is something I want to do, with that in mind, a few weeks ago I put a post on a walking forum to find people in the same situation as me with whom I might be able to practice a wider range of skills than the standard day on the hill stuff.
So it was that I found myself waiting in the free carpark just outside Elterwater for Nathan, a fellow ML trainee employed for the Summer season at Whinlatter Go Ape, and with a good working knowledge of the knobbly bits of the Lakeland that might prove ideal for some ropework and micro-navigation. We climbed out of the valley bashing our way through the bracken and exchanging tips on the local flora or fauna before finding a suitable crag to practice some rope work. In spite of my recent Indoor climbing course this was the first time since my training I’d used a rope “in situ” as it were and it took a bit of getting used to! An hour or so later and I was feeling much more confident and we coiled the rope away and, enjoying the magnificent views down to Baysbrown campsite and the Langdales continued on our way upwards. After a bit of lunch by a small, cotton grass covered tarn we moved onto some micro-navigation on the numerous lumps and bumps of Silver Howe. It was the kind of terrain and practice that’s hard to replicate during a normal hill day and really useful for all that, it gave me some helpful pointers for areas that I still need to work on! We were also treated to some spectacular views out over Grasmere, Rydal Water and Loughrigg, made a welcome change after a couple of hours of nose to compass and nose to map!
We finished with another batch of rope work, hopefully ingraining some of the skills we’d been working on earlier, before descending down through yet more bracken to Elterwater. It was a very different kind of day, but immensely useful and I shall definitely be incorporating plenty more of these into the mix before I take the final, dreaded exam!

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