Awarded - The Gold Standard Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Let there be light !!

At last staff training outside. A novelty of late but we found sunlight in the end.

A rather wet and windy day yesterday staff training. Mind you, what do you expect when you go gorge walking in the middle of a storm and after days of rain. However a great day was had by all.
The main focus of the day was looking at spotting, group management, visiting the approved mines that are along the gorge, challenged that can be given to the group, using the gorge in high water levels and Tyroleans ( Crossing using a rope )
A great day for wearing a dry suit and for some personal challenges. One of which I will post a video of later.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Still in the Dark

I think as staff we need to get some sun next time, well not even that as just daylight would be good. So the darkness theme continues. In order to uphold our mine leader qualifications, we have to revalidate and a part of that process is gaining more personal experience in new mines.

With this in mind, we have had a few quality days exploring mines near Corris. We have been to some great places underground, found a wide range of old items left behind by the miners ( such as boots, winches, old first aid boxes, telephones ) and practised a variety of technical skills needed to look after groups.

Some of the chambers visited have been hugh and exploring new mines you never quite know what to expect, even more so when some of the mines there are no surveys to follow.

One of the mines, meant going through water at armpit level ! thankfully it was only the one.
It does being home to us the amazing sense of satisfaction our groups must get they go underground on our courses, to visit such amazing places.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Underground is the theme

This week there has been 4 of our of staff undergoing mine leader training and assessment. Jason and Sol went on a North Wales Local Mine Leader training course and Mark and Matt passed their SRT for mine leaders. SRT stands for single rope technique , which means they are able to climb a fixed rope by using a series of mechanical clamps. This technique means more vertical , technical and remote venues can be visited.

One thing is for sure, it has been an ideal week to be underground due to the weather. So windy and wet.  Most mines are not effected by the rain unlike many caves.

Next step is for Sol and Jason to pass their assessment so they can lead groups underground and Matt and Mark are now able to run more technical trips, with the first one planned for Jan 2016.

Underground exploration is a very exciting and unique experience and one which more and more of our groups are asking for. We use 3 old slate and lead mines which may sound dangerous. However, we only venture into areas within the mine passed out by the HSE mines inspector.

Groups are able to step back in time and go on a historical, adventurous, educational, fun and cool activity.
Best practice rope climbing indoors first

Handle to the workings of a incline deep in Cwm Orthin Slate mine

Abseiling down

Be a good idea to look at the map

Our group mines are not this bad.  Exploring an old Lead mine 

Follow me, its not that tight. Again staff pushing things a little more than when with groups

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Nettle and CPD

As part of staff development, keeping current and ensuring that as a centre we are able to offer a range of high level outdoor adventures and experiences, it is important we develop Continuous Personal Development ( CPD )  Another key reason for CPD is for instructors to work outside their own personal comfort zone something which we ask of our customers on a daily basis.

Certain activities such as mining and caving require you to undertake a certain amount of CPD by the awarding National Governing Body in order to maintain your qualification.

With this in mind Mark the centre manager had a visit to the Peak District recently.  On one of the days, a trip down Nettle Pot, a natural formed cave,  gave good scope to practice and learn new skills alongside discussing good practice with the other members of the team,  another centre manager and a caving club member.

Most people assume caving is crawling around in mud and water. It certainly can be in many instances but there are many vertical caves which require the use of rope to get down to the base of the cave. Nettle Pot is one of these. You descend a total of  170 metres with one section,  a free hanging abseil of 45m.  The only downside is you need to climb all the way back up afterwards, another skill in itself.

In terms of comfort zone, there was one section one the way down ( and obviously on the  the way up ) which was quite tight. With your back against the cave wall and your face and chest against the other side of the cave wall, with a couple of instance when breathing out made a big difference, one could say you had to focus.

The attached video clip is what one of the group members shot ( Thanks for Ed Bayliss ) just using a standard go pro on their helmet and no extra lighting. Around 1.25 mins you get to idea of it being tight fit. A really interesting trip.

If any one  / group of people would like a introduction to a cave experience ( without the really tight sections and the rope work )  then the centre can provide these in the Peak District.  Just contact the centre for further details. There are a variety of beginner caves we use and all equipment is supplied.