Geology, ropework and flora

Wood sorrell Alex paused his steady stride along Britain's most iconic historical cross-country landmark and peered through his dripping hood towards the ground. Rain sodden, we were following a narrow but well-worn track guided by an old, correction, very old stone wall on the right and a steep pine covered slope on the left. Along the dolerite cliffs at the eastern end of Crag Lough in Northumberland a tiny flag of bright green nestling amongst the usual debris and litter of the forest floor under partially sheltering pines had caught our attention. Wood Sorrell he says, taste this. For such a miniscule sample the effect was surprising. A sharp apple / lemon tang hit the taste buds inviting a second and third nibble to repeat the effect. I'll have a bag of that!

Paul Mitchinson the North East co-ordinator from North East Guides had organised a Mountain Training regional cpd day almost in my back garden. Too close to miss this opportunity to update and expand my outdoor skills repertoire. It was great to see such good attendance and folk travelling from far and wide and furthermore a range of capabilities and ages added to the mix.

Luckily Alex Frood's two hour session wasn't overly scientific so no unpronouncable latin names to remember more an eye-opening tour to stimulate further interest in flora and fauna and promote further investigation. We picked up on lichen and moss, grasses and rush, not to forget the find of the day, the tasty Wood Sorrell. Birds were in short supply apart from a pair of swans feeding and nest sitting on the lough untroubled by tufted ducks but a jackdaw / kestrel squabble livened things up briefly. Then there was the famous Sycamore Gap in the Wall. Now what kind of tree was that again?

Returning to our meeting place for a lunch break through sleet turning to thick wet snow was somewhat surreal as my memories of these crags are of summer evenings climbing clean rock routes on fine grained rock offering little friction and parallel jamming cracks. Weirder still was bumping into a small film crew bemused by the snow and hoping to film two axe weilding heathens in mortal combat. Whilst we had been out and about Heather had been astute in holding the geology session partly under cover of her 4x4 and for an amateur she certainly knows her stuff. More stimulus for future investigation! NE ropework Soon the ground had an obliterating cover of wet snow and time for me to practise my rope skills with Nick Pilling. Tania, soon to be assessed wanted to bring her skills up to speed and as well as Nick, Paul Mitchinson and myself, two experienced ML's were on hand, all in all there was plenty of input, discussion and feedback, a really good session which demonstrated the advantage of small ratios in teaching and the value of peer learning. Confidence roping, body belaying, anchor selections, obstacle handling and route choice were all covered very well. Tania survived the experience. Willing to ,earn and with a great attitude she will make an expert ML I'm sure. Personally I found it satisfying that my own knowledge was in line with current thinking and good practice and hugely appreciated Nick's advice. There's always something to learn.

Thanks to Paul for organising the day, Alex, Nick, Heather and Belinda Fear the MTA development Officer for their professional competence and work in organising the cpd and it was great to meet other local members.

Phil Tinning
Freetime Outdoors

Just a few words to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's CPD workshop covering Security on Steep Ground, Geology and Flora and Fauna. Having missed a winter course earlier in the year, due to having a bug, this particular course I knew would be useful for me, as I needed some refreshment in my rope work. These courses are clearly very important, and show how every individual must keep on top of things. My personal thanks to all the course providers who were there, and to yourself for some great tips on confidence roping amongst steep and broken ground. A very worthwhile and enjoyable day, and i shall be keeping my eye open for the next one.

Steven Roberts - SPR Expeditions

Thanks Belinda for your help yesterday with my rope work. It has made me feel more confident to go and practice now. I really appreciated Nick and Dan's help too. The geology talk of the local area in the afternoon was very interesting too. It has made me keen to carry on with my consolidation period and aim to take my ML Assessment in October. The day was very worthwhile.

Sue Glover - Member and Mountain Leader trained


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