Windermere Airshow 2009

It was the first day of the Windermere Airshow, and I’d volunteered to stand and be sociable on the SARDA Lakes stand in the event arena. It was a good opportunity for Mil to meet lots of children and chat about training.

SARDA Lakes stand at the Windermere Airshow
SARDA Lakes stand at the Windermere Airshow

This was interspersed with the odd aeroplane but unfortunately Roge (& Beinn) and Ian (& Vinny) had to leave as there was a call out with Langdale & Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team

I also came across a big bird…but not sure about the ethics of this

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

A lovely lady called Pauline came and said hello with her pet Guinea Pig (sorry I forgot to take a photograph). We didn’t have any cakes so I couldn’t take a photo for all you cakephiles.

The day finished off with the flypast of the amazing Vulcan bomber.

The AVRO Vulcan G-VLCN (XH558)
The AVRO Vulcan G-VLCN (XH558)

It took nearly an hour to get out of the car park 🙁

Enough about vegetables: a real adventure!

The climbers of this blog are relatively impressed by a 2 hour run, this post is about real mountain running. This weekend was a real test of the limits. As we were competing in this event, we realised what a stupendous sport we had got ourselves in to …

… fancy trying 24 normal orienteering events in one go, nonstop
… fancy running a mountain marathon, without stopping at the end of the day and without sleep
… fancy orienteering right through the night…

“Rogaining” as wikipedia states is “the sport of long distance cross-country navigation. Championship Rogaines are 24 hours long”. In other words, collect as many controls as possible, in any order, in 24 hours!

Last year we did this event, but we slept in the middle of it – last year we decided that this was our downfall as we ached too much in the morning to continue properly … so this year … we had decided not to sleep!

The Rogaine started from Coronation Plantation, near Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland at 12 noon on Saturday. We marked our map and set out, planning the route to make the navigation in the night section of the race as easy as possible. Our chosen route took us east towards Powerscourt and then north into the Glencree river valley. Here we managed to get to an outside wedding just in time to hear the vows and slightly later we happened to enter an area being used for another orienteering event! I think the latter must be a world first! We headed over a hill and into the Glencullen Valley, where we stopped in a very irish pub for a pint of coke and a bag of bacon fries (at the outrageous cost of 15 euros!). We were losing light about this time, so quickly we scaled the next hill and ate half a quiche at the summit to prepare us for the long dark night. It was about 10.00 pm by this time and we felt surprisingly good. We wondered whether this was down to the Skins tights we were wearing (they are compression tights which are meant to help muscles work for longer) … Anyway we ran down the lovely ridge of this mountain with the sun setting and soon we were on a road. Great for easy navigation! After some time, we headed into a forest to collect a few more controls. This was surprisingly easy and so we headed off again on-road, the next off-road section was probably the worst part of the whole 24 hrs however! We started off through a lovely grassy field, which unfortunately developed into one massive thorn bush field. It was quite a slope and so we didn’t want to head back up and so we tried to find a route through the bushes. Things started to look up and we thought we could see the road, but then in front of us we realised that there was a ditch filled with thorn bushes and more on the other side. With the road about 10 m away, I took my caving instinct and went underneath. This was not nice and at one point I was sliding into a stream (of unknown depth)with thorn bush completely surrounding me. Needless to say, we made it and when we got onto the road we realised that we had been pretty lucky as around us the bush had been much much denser. We continued, through a cemetry, by a lake, on a long road, up a long hill, over dark farm tracks, through forestry workings and back onto roads…It was still dark and after a section on the road of about 25 minutes we got to a bridge … that was closed … and only half present. So we walked all the way back along the road we’d just walked over … 🙁





Getting our act together again we started into another forest to collect 4 more controls as the light returned! We still feeling pretty good at this point too … even as we came out of the forest, the peat bogs didn’t deter us! by this time we had done a complete circuit and had arrived back at the camp to get some more food – this is allowed! We had a pot noodle and a cup of tea and with 20 mins rest we started out again over the hills for the last 3 hours of effort. By now, I was feeling quite tired and the ground on the other side of the camp was much more difficult with long grass all bent over in the opposite direction to our travel! The way back was even worse as the tussocks started – not good on tired legs!

We arrived back at camp with about 45 mins spare – it was not quite enough to do anything with and we were tired. We were so pleased to have kept going for so long however… we really didn’t stop except for tying shoe laces, scoffing a quiche, drinking a pint of coke and during the 20 mins break at the camp.

We measured the route … 57 miles! Amazing! We came 2nd mixed team – the other mixed team were quite amazing – although they had known that the bridge was passable if you had dared to walk to the end of it and looked down at a dam wall 3 m below!

We think our eating plan worked really well – eat every 2 hours and eat jelly babies in between. I also think that the Skins tights helped enormously!

Following the Rogaine, Richard and I headed off to Clare and visited the Cliffs of Moher and some neolithic sites on the Burren.




Cromhall splash

With the pigs using the scooter we had no choice but to go diving under our own power…

Having avoided the excesses of Rachards wedding the previous day I had a clear head for some diving which was just as well because I was using my modified Atlantis. Andrew was using his modified Dolphin so he needed to be on the ball as well. We were both using some unfamiliar bits but what could go wrong?


At Cromhall we met Derek who has recently done a Farr cave course, joined the CDG and wants to meet other divers to get a bit done. After a chat we agreed that Derek would lay some line and survey. We could then have a chat about that and then he could retrieve the line. This allow him to do what he wanted and with two of us in the water there was half a chance that one of our RBs would last long enough for one of us to stay with him.

On the dive all went well and both RBs stayed the course. Derek did what was needed on the first dive and we had a chat before he removed the line on the second dive. On surfacing we heard loud rumblings from up above. A bright flash confirmed our suspicions and we exited the water quickly to avoid the lightening. It was at this point that the rain started, initially as large infrequent drops which then changed to heavy bursts. It stopped soon and was replaced by hale stones. We sheltered in the back of the van but eventually gave up and got changed anyway before driving back to Andrew’s for tea and Herman.



BoB(ing) along

The sunny weather this weekend promised good caving but the rainfall during the week meant that sump conditions were likely to be poor. To improve our chances Andrew and I waited until Sunday for our digging trip into BoB in DYO. We were not disappointed, the dive conditions lived down to our expectations although on the up side the water was warmer than winter.


We found the same rock that we had previously used to measure the height of the water and since it worked last time we decided to use it again.



At the dig face Andrew made quick progress with the sand and silt layers. Unfortunately it soon became apparent that with only one person to move the spoil progress was going to be slow however fast he dug. Work at the dig face was abandoned in favour of cutting a channel through some of the mud banks that make moving the spoil hard work. Good progress was make in between checking the rock.


Whilst digging the face a draft was felt through the tunnel leading to the dig so prospects for future trips look good. If we can get another person in to help progress should be good.


Cromhall diving

Later in the year a trip to France is planned to do the usual sitting around in cafes thinking of good reasons not to do anything else all day. This is a difficult task and a well balanced team is needed if results are to be achieved smoothly. To make sure that this years effort would not turn out to be suboptimal Andrew organised a meet-up at Cromhall followed by a Bar-B-Q at his place so we could make sure that this years team has a good chance of achieving the goal. There is nothing worse that having a good cafe visit ruined by an over enthusiastic team member suggesting a dive.

At Cromhall Andrew found that his rebreather was leaking from several places. Steve found that his drysuit most defiantly wasn’t. Toby showed that continuing with a dive because there was plenty of gas left was not an option. And I demonstrated the use of a piece of kit that had been lashed together with bungee and cable ties in ten minutes but was wholly inappropriate for the situation. Unfortunately we were all shown up by Andrew R who turned up without any dive gear because it was to much effort to put it in the car. He is not coming on the trip to France but he has set the benchmark for the rest of us. Long cafe stops look to be assured.


After the dive we all departed for the Bar-B-Q which went well and no small furry animals were put on the griddle.


DYO Corbels chamber

Having spent the Saturday attending the CDG AGM near Crickhowell I was looking forward to a day underground. As I was just recovering from a cold I had the previous week, diving was out so a dry trip was planned into the Corbels inlet in DYO with Andrew. The aim of the trip was to carry a length of thick walled hose pipe into the inlet to set up as a siphon so that we can drain the static sumps in the passage.


Turning up in the car-park, we parked out of the way of the tourists to change before strolling into the show cave with the pipe. Corbels chamber is close to the entrance but still required us to wade through the lakes before doing a short section of dry caving that includes a good variety of passage. The water levels were low and the water was warm (if your wetsuit fitted well; like mine LOL ) with very little flow. On the way in we took our time and admired the plentiful formations.


The final passage into Corbels chamber is a bedding crawl with beautiful formations to each side before a final thrutch up into the chamber itself.


In the chamber we quickly found Corbels inlet passage; our chosen target. This passage like the rest of DYO has been tapped to guide cavers clear of the formations thereby protecting them. Halfway up the passage towards the sump we found that the route ahead had been tapped off. We had no alternative but to abandon the plan and retreat so that we could consult with the Cave Access Committee to see what the next move will be.


We made our exit to a sunny day. Waterproof seat covers were put in place and we drove along the valley to the SWCC hut to change out of our wetsuits away from the show cave customers before the drive back home. On arrival we found two happy looking pigs.


A sunny day for BoB

Helped along by the unseasonal sunshine we made an early start for the Battle of Britain series in Dan Yr Orof, South Wales. Arriving in good time in the otherwise empty car park we were quickly changed and into the cave. In the Hard Cheese airbell Andrew set about replacing the hand line on the climb whilst I followed the line I laid last time. The visibility was very poor and after tying off a new line onto the old one I was unable to find the way on in the murk. A current could be felt and the particle’s in the water confirmed the flow. The line was untied and a return was made to the airbell. Once I was out of the water we headed off to the small chamber we visited last time to have a bit of a dig.


In the chamber we tested Andrew’s new camera on the formations before the humidity built up. We then started digging to get beyond the point we reached last time. The soft floor made this easy and we soon got a look at the small chamber beyond. It is formed by a cross rift and has solution pockets in the roof. On the far side, a couple of metres away the roof dips down to meet the sandy floor.


At this stage we were not sure if we wanted to take on this site, so we carried on digging to create a trench in the floor to make room for a spoil boat. This again proved easy so we agreed to give the place a go. A snack break followed in the well decorated first chamber. Drinking a carton of orange juice and eating a cereal bar surrounded by straws with the rumble of water in the background was magical, even the ever-present cave grit tasted good.


Before leaving we went through to Gwynne Saunders Hall to collect an old digging boat from a high level passage above the flood line. Exiting after the boat had been dropped off at our dig we found the sun was still shining and the car park was still empty. Where were all the other cavers?

Back at Andrew’s house, after a longer than usual trip, our absence had been noted by someone who looked a little lonely.