September Write Ups
My first "scary" adventure with the 50+ group having only managed to fit in a walk so far this year. There were just 6 of us doing the activity and a couple of spectators including Pauline who kindly organised the activity. It started with the inevitable safety briefing from the guy who eventually became our raft "captain". He obviously enjoyed being thorough about the risks of whitewater rafting ranging from cracked ribs and dislocated fingers through broken noses, food poisoning and even leptospirosis if you were really unlucky. He also gave us some good advice which unfortunately was not heeded by everyone in our group-i.e. don't hold onto the rope round the edge of the raft!
Anyhow we set off down the steep steps to the water's edge for a practice row on the nice calm river Nene. We only had one problem-Steve and I were sitting on the same side with 4 other lady rowers on the boat so when the captain said "paddle hard" we just went round in circles! From then on Steve and I were put on opposite sides of the boat. After a brief practice we then carried the boat to the top of the artificial course to see that 2 of the 3 pumps were running meaning only about 2.5 tonnes of water per second going down the course! The first couple of ridges were quite smooth but as we entered "the big one" we went in slightly sideways and I ended up cuddling my new best friend Sally. The rest of the course went off quite smoothly and so we all hurried back up the hill with our raft for more fun. At this stage I don't think anyone was even damp-but not for long!
Our Captain then introduced us to bow and side surfing by paddling right up to the exit from the big rapid. As you can see Steve quite enjoyed having 2.5 tonnes per second straight in his lap!
Next I "volunteered" to sit in the bow of the boat whilst we repeated this exercise-fortunately my camera is waterproof. Note how calmly Steve is sitting with his hand on his knee!
We then had a try at side surfing and I fell out of the rear of the boat then Sally was next-losing her shoes in the process. The rest were doing very well until they all slid over to the left of the boat nearest the rapids with Julia still hanging onto the rope on the opposite side. Quel surprise-the raft turned right over and dumped everyone into the water. Our captain assured us that an upside down raft was quite unusual.
After a couple more circuits, one with all 3 pumps running (4tps), we finally were treated to jumping into, and bodysurfing down, the big rapid. All in all a lot of fun and I think we all survived without injury or illness.
LAKE DISTRICT ACTIVITY WEEKEND - Articles by various intrepid participants. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather conditions (it was rather damp), we do not have as many pictures as usual but everyone agreed that it was an unforgettable weekend!
Icebreaker Session (Lakes) - Hilary Connon
As we drove along the M6 towards the Lake District the sunshine gave way to grey clouds and drizzle, and the temperature dropped a few degrees. Everything was lush and green, absolutely stunning scenery, no doubt due to constant rain over the summer. Since Dave had been working that day, we were the last to arrive, so unpacked quickly with a quick wave to our black sheep friends (Maaary and Baaarbara) out of our bedroom window, and then ran across the damp, springy grass to join the five teams that had already started the icebreaker activities.
First up was the archery, choosing a suitable bow and laying it flat while I slotted in an arrow shaft, standing side on and then drawing it back across my cheek as far as possible and then whoosh… letting go of the string. Of course in my rush I put the wrist guard on the wrong wrist! I had a good grouping of the four flights in the green area until someone pointed out I should be hitting the nice round multi coloured target. Other team members seemed to hit it every time.
On to a game with a long thin, curved cane that we all had to balance on our fingers and try to lower to the ground maintaining contact at all times. Of course if one side went down the other side went up. There was a lot of shuffling and banter but we failed miserably.
Next we moved on to a nuclear meltdown game where we had to reassemble a tower using only ropes and elastic band without entering the contaminated area. There were some false starts before we worked on a cunning strategy that successfully completed the task.
Fourth task was to climb the faithful tree. Steve and Dave scampered up to the top like monkeys, Cecil had a good go and nearly reached the rope, but I only got two steps off the ladder and had to admit defeat, still the swing down was fun.
The final exercise was a cake-walk challenge between four teams of five trying to walk in unison on two planks with three ropes. There was a lot of screaming "Left, Right.." and despite tugging the ropes the plank wouldn't move. "LEFT.." still firmly pinned to the ground, "NO the OTHER Left!". The two faster teams were then handicapped on the second stretch by having two people going backwards, so the shout was "YOUR right, MY left". It was so funny and frustrating and a brilliant end to the session.
Thanks to Mary and the Glaramara team for organising the weekend and the activities.
Upstream Ghyll Scrambling (Lakes) - Mary Owen
Simon, our instructor for the afternoon, had great fun sizing the seven of us up for our waterproof gear! Our first layer was a rather unflattering body-hugging all-in-one fleece - picture that if you can (or want to). This was followed by a pair of canvas trousers, a waterproof jacket and safety helmet. After swapping sizes and much laughter we headed off up the road to Honister Ghyll which, after all the rain that had fallen in the previous days, was gushing down the hill. As the intrepid adventurers that we in the 50+ club are known for, we all slid down the bank and into the water. What relief - it wasn't icy cold! We hesitantly started to inch our way up the ghyll but we soon became accustomed to the rushing water and deciding which rock to clamber over. Simon helped us through deeper sections and we each could feel the strength of the water. It gave us a greater understanding of how devastating even a small stream can be. We had to leave the stream at the bottom of a set of four waterfalls as it was too dangerous for us to carry on. I had a great time and would definitely have another go. Many thanks to Simon and his dog, Midge.
Abseiling (Lakes) - Richard and Janette
After a hearty breakfast we were transported to the Bowder Stone quarry where Dan our instructor set up the equipment for our abseil. He then gave us excellent instructions even using the ropes on the fence for us to practice.
We were then set. He did advise us that once over the top part it would get slippy (no kidding there!). Mick was the first over, armed with the sweeties for us on landing.
Some went down in ballet fashion, some slid down and some doing highland fling style. Everyone conquered any fears they may have had and Dan was impressed that all 10 of us completed the event and some went down for a second go. A great event.
Rock Climbing (Lakes) - Richard Coles
The morning for our climbing arrived and a quick look outside showed typical Lakeland weather ah! Rain. This meant wet rocks and wet rocks = no grip for climbing shoes.
Simon confirmed that we would be climbing an MDF wall at the Keswick Outdoor Centre. When all five of us arrived we were quickly shown how to tie safety knots to our harness and how to safely pay out line to our designated climbing partner and importantly not to let them drop off the climbing wall and crash into the ground.
The climbing walls were busy with youngsters 5-10 years of age ascending the most difficult climbs with real overhangs, amazing, they had no fear and climbed like spider children. We struggled on the nursery slopes until we got the hang of it and settled into our climbing technique which was hang on for dear life and hope to find a foothold to push up on. Simon eventually remembered to show us the technique of how to keep your arms straight and therefore hang from the finger tip grips while planning your ascent, however by this time hands and arms were well knackered!
In hindsight it was good to start indoors on the MDF wall as it was a controlled environment and we could learn the technique safely.
A good morning, which has saved me a few hundred pounds as I will not be taking up climbing as a hobby !!!
Downstream Ghyll Scrambling (Lakes) - Sue Smart
After a hearty breakfast we met our instructor and with a bit of a struggle we were togged up in bear suits, wet suits and helmets. This did impede our movement a little and made getting on the bus a bit tricky, but I was glad of the insulation & padding later!
A short mini bus drive and a 10 minute walk found us at the start of our adventure, "steaming" hot in our gear and ready for a cooling dip in the ghyll. At this point I did wonder what on earth I was doing here but the thought of losing face among such a brave bunch spurred me on. A quick briefing and we were off. We slipped, jumped & belly flopped our way downstream. It was scary & exhilarating at the same time. After what seemed a very short time, we reached a point in the water called the "washing machine" when we had to stop as we had run out of time. I think there were feelings of disappointment from some & relief from others.
We squelched our way back to the car park where we were met with the sight of lots of half naked people trying to get dried and changed behind what little cover there was. We were fortunately spared this experience and after a group photo we were taken home for a nice warm shower.
A big thank you to our instructor whose name now escapes me for taking care of us (ed's note: it looks like our old friend Dan) making us laugh and for keeping my glasses safe until I finished.
Coracle Building (Lakes) - Ann Cook
When you are given a barrel of assorted lengths of gas pipe, two rolls of sticky tape and a well used plastic tarpaulin you might think Blue Peter was holding auditions for a spot on the show. No - this was a 50+ challenge under very difficult conditions. If the tape got wet it would not stick and as you may have heard by now it was a very wet weekend in the Lakes.
The task was to build a coracle strong enough to take a passenger across a very fast flowing stream. Two teams rose to the challenge and constructed a framework each in different styles then covered these as best they could with the leaky tarpaulins. Carrying our masterpieces along an unusually busy road to the waterside caused quite a bit of amusement for passing spectators. Anyway in the water went our "sturdy" craft and I volunteered to try out our handy work first, success, just. Then the second craft went in, even better. Only five out of eight members were brave enough to test their coracles and repeat the challenge several times but it was all great fun and only our feet got wet.
Many thanks Mary for organising this and the rest of a smashing weekend.
Canoeing on Derwentwater (Lakes) - Lesley Ingham
Ten of us set off for canoeing (and thankfully ten of us returned). The weather wasn't brilliant but that didn't matter. It was a great morning. We took 3 individual canoes in pairs and a raft of two canoes which held five of us including Sheila Duncker with a broken wrist as a passenger. Going out was the easier part as we had the gusty wind behind us. Sheila Casey and friend were way out in front most of the time (must get tips for next time!) We pulled on to the shore a good way down the lake and rafted two more of the canoes together for the return journey with Sheila Casey in the remaining single canoe tied to the raft. This time the wind was against us and the lake was becoming quite choppy which made the journey much harder work but brilliant for the arm muscles. More or less made it back to base before the heavens opened. Fantastic morning.
From Richard and Janette
Just a note to say that the afternoon's canoeing was eventful. We only had 45 minutes due to Alex having to respond to a Mayday call from 20 Geordie lads on a stag weekend overturning their sailing boats. One guy was asking for his mum! Ahh!!
Go Ape in Whinlatter Forest (Lakes) - Mick Cook
After a good breakfast we set off on the short drive from Glaramara to Whinlatter forest park for the Go ape. The weather was blowing a gale and the rain was sheeting across the valleys but we are an adventure club so let the fun begin. After getting into our harnesses and being instructed on what to do we set off on stage one of five, the trees where swaying well and the rain was still coming down.
Each stage was getting more challenging and more slippery but despite the rain and the wind we all seemed to be enjoying it with plenty of laughs and egging each other on. At one point it got a bit unnerving, we were half way up a tree and we could hear a chain saw near by, but we were told later that they were only carving shapes out of logs. At the last zip wire I watched the rest of the group come down screaming and shouting and the rain at last eased off. Thanks Mary and Richard for a great event, the weather did not deter us as it added a new dimension to Go Ape.
Five Conquer The Via Ferrata! (Lakes) - Debs Moore
What do you get when you put me together with torrential rain, gale force winds and the Via Ferrata? Answer, a gibbering wreck clinging to a sheer rock face and wanting to go home! I have to admit I have never been so scared in my life. I was offered the option to go out on the first escape route together with two others who were struggling with the whole thing but with a few words of encouragement from the girls and Steve (my hero of the day) who quietly told me he knew I was capable of doing this I decided I was not a quitter. My inspiration came from Diane, who is a few years older than me and was on this for the fourth time and if she could do it, then so could I. To be honest I don't remember much about the whole experience, I was too busy burning adrenalin and concentrating on trying to breathe - slowly. The "team work" kicked in big style, words of encouragement were coming from all angles and I knew I was with such a good bunch of people, and Sheila gave me a big hug to make me feel better.
I did manage to laugh when we were almost at the top when Sue and I read a sign which said something like "open mine workings, danger of death". Oh great we go through hell to get up here and now we're going to be blown up! But we made it and I found it incredibly emotional, silly old me.
On Monday morning when I was home and grinning like a Cheshire cat at thoughts of my incredible weekend I looked on YouTube at clips of Via Ferrata, oh dear did I really do that? Yes I did, and my dad would have been so proud of me!
I shall be forever indebted to Steve, Sue, Diane, Sheila and Wes our instructor, without whom I don't think I would have completed this, thank you so much guys!
And a huge thank you to Mary (and Richard of course) for organising such an incredible weekend, I haven't had so much fun in years, thank you.
FOOTNOTE TO THE WEEKEND (Richard and Janette):
Great organisation and fabulous quiz set by Richard and Mary. However, can you answer these:
- Who thought Elvis Presley was a gravelly voiced singer from Sheffield?
- Who was swooning over the puddings?
- Who is frightened of nothing - except the Ex-Wife?
- Who forgot to take their mobile phone out of their pocket before jumping into Derwent Water?
- Who frantically searched all of Glaramara for her car keys only to find her man had them in his pocket all along?
On Sunday, the 50+ consignment (part 2) arrived and approached the two-wheeled fiends with some caution - especially after hearing of one member's mishap the day before. However after a brief instruction and a trial run in "tortoise" mode we soon got the hang of it. Someone was a little more eager than others to up the pace, so we gave him a wide berth, whilst honing our skills. The parking capability had to be seen to be believed - if only this was achievable with four wheels!
A refreshing cuppa was supplied whilst the other half of our group tried out the controls and then it was our turn to venture out on our own (yes out of sight of the instructor!). With a variety of tracks to choose from we were able to zoom along in whichever direction we wished, with a warning to keep a look out for approaching uneven ground. The only thing "approaching" I had to worry about was Cecil, coming along the same track towards me, but luckily a fork in the path averted collision. All returned to base in one piece.
We then enjoyed watching the second group go off at speed. It was quite surreal to see them standing proud on their machines shooting off in all directions. A little over-enthusiasm on Richard's part caused him and his segway to part company! Janette had to be sent on a "rescue mission" as the control on his machine disengaged itself whilst he was trying to re-board. Our instructor zoomed off to sort him out so they could continue on their way. Everyone agreed it had been a delightful way to spend the morning.
Six members assembled at Husband's Bosworth's slightly chilly Gliding Centre on 9 September, having waited impatiently since the originally planned date in August due to technical problems at the airfield. It was certainly worth the wait!
Five of us had opted for the "aero tow" with just one of our group choosing a winch tow. The latter was the first into the air and the rest of us were a bit taken aback by the steep line of take-off, relieved at our choice that, we were told, would be rather more gradual.
Then it was our turn and one by one, after a somewhat bumpy ride along the runway, we were towed up into the air by the "tug" (not, as I thought, a small boat, but the light aircraft that got us airborne!) Towed up to 2000 feet, the glider pilot then released the towline and we watched the tug swooping back to earth, leaving us soaring quietly amongst the low-lying clouds. What a beautiful sight: the wonderful patchwork of the English countryside, the shining silver of water courses and cows the size of ants - all the views we see from our holiday jet planes but without the noise!
If you haven't tried it (it was my first time), you really should - it's definitely an experience not to be missed and we're all indebted to Jane for getting us up there!
Gliding (2nd Group) - Nick Jarvis
The morning's weather looked a bit doubtful and we were all told to watch carefully for any last-minute emails. Come the afternoon though, the wind had calmed a little and the sun was making some rather half-hearted attempts to break through the cloud. We were told to arrive promptly as the rapid advance of the season was causing the sun to set ever earlier each day. In fact we all arrived in very good time, and had a few minutes to get down a nerve-settling mug of coffee before we set off for the brief drive to the leeward end of the airstrip, where two gliders were waiting for us.
I bravely volunteered for the first of the afternoon's aero-tows. There followed an all-you-need-to-know introduction to parachuting ("to open the parachute, pull that red thing") before we climbed into the glider and strapped in. I was seated in the front with the instructor in the rear seat. The next problem was to find somewhere to park my knees so they wouldn't obstruct the controls during takeoff. With that issue quickly resolved, off we went apparently in hot pursuit of the single-engine tow plane. Once at 2000 feet we dropped the tow line and suddenly everything went quiet. I was given an overview of the glider's controls that took only marginally longer than my parachute training, and after that I was able to take the controls for the next half-hour or so. Due to the late hour of the day, there were few thermals to be found and we succeeded in climbing only to 2300 feet before beginning the inevitable slow descent. Once down to 1000 feet the instructor announced that it was time to prepare for landing and resumed the controls. Up in the air, it feels as though you are barely moving; it is only when the ground is just a few feet away that you realise you are still travelling at around 50 knots, which is a bit disconcerting when you remember the fragility of a glider’s airframe.
My big mistake of the day was to try to get a photo of a glider taking off. This entailed walking halfway down the airstrip away from the cars and any other cover. Of course, it was then that the weather finally decided to break - an utter downpour that quickly soaked me through.
If you haven't yet tried gliding, do give it a go next time you get the chance.
As Tom and I didn't experience Part 1 and never canoed before we didn't know what to expect.
It was an early start for all, meeting at Oundle Mill for 8.15 am. The day started very misty but the weather forecast was good. A safety briefing was given to those who hadn't canoed before; life jackets handed out and off to the canoes for instruction on how to get in and out safely.
Then we were on our own, off we all went, negotiated the first bend ok just to find the water full of reeds and within a couple of minutes we were at the first lock. Out we all got, safely, many thanks to Les and everybody else who helped. (One lock down three to go).
We hadn't realised how peaceful canoeing can be, totally different to a walk along the river. We all managed to avoid the fishermen and canal boats, but sometimes managed to get caught up in the reeds and bank. A bit of back paddling freed us with help from others and off we went again.
After another couple of locks successfully negotiated, we stopped for lunch on the river bank and a well earned rest. We had just passed Oundle and Cotterstock so it was back into our canoes and a leisurely paddle onto Fotheringhay - the river opens up here and the scenery and wildlife were beautiful.
Fotheringhay was our last stop, and we had to get out on a grassy, slippery bank. This wasn't easy and we all helped one another. Just as we were all patting ourselves on the back for not falling in the water, the last two people managed to do just that (no names mentioned). Then it was off to the pub where we sat in the garden in the sunshine recalling the days events until the mini bus arrived to take us back to Oundle Mill.
I am sure we all enjoyed the day; we certainly did and would thank Dennis and Jane for organising it.
The 50+ Adventure Club is so exciting! One day you are canoeing gently along the River Nene, the next you are quad biking over rough terrain and going through the smelliest water imaginable, trying to get as wet as possible and finally spending time in A&E to check out a member of the group who has parted company with his machine!! Well we had two spills but I am happy to report that both are OK and live to ride another day.
In my group the men shot off following our instructor whilst I could be called "Also Ran" bringing up the rear. We went round fields, they went over what looked like mountains to me with equally awful drops on the other side, whilst I chickened out and did some sedate figures of eight on smoother ground. However we all went through the lake churning up the water where a short while before the horses had been standing!! They did look as if they were wondering what was going on with their water. I did get a shock when I discovered one of the team lying beside his bike - was he joking or not? He wasn't and after he was put back on and the bike inspected, we finished with a very watery trip along the brook on full throttle and a final dash back to the yard seeing how fast we could go. Needless to say I was lapped, but I really enjoyed it, especially the watery bits. I gather the other girls did all the hills and dales; but me, I guess I am just a wimp, but nevertheless, a happy wimp after a great day out.
Message from Keith: "l would like to thank everyone, on the day and on the following days, for their messages of concern, with Carol deserving a special mention for her kindness and help."
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