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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Busy in the Borderlands

Even though the outdoor season has now well and truly kicked off, I've somehow managed to find time for some personal caving and canoeing in the Forest of Dean. I suppose the odd couple of jobs working in the Peak District and the Mendips count as a bit of a break too, right?

Night Shift

A busy week for Viney Hill Adventure found me leading 9 straight sessions of raft building on a windy Mallards Pike lake. Despite the repitition of the sessions, it was fun to work with a number of different groups from Cirencester and London. Evening sessions with the London school were a rare treat, literally seeing the lake in a different light as night fell.

Evening Activities

My nights off this week turned out to be equally busy, with an evening jaunt into the warren of passages that make up Miss Graces Lane cave, near Chepstow, followed by a night on Symonds Yat rapids fine tuning some canoe skills. 

Miss Graces Lane is an extensive system with a 30+ metre entrance shaft, complete with ladders bolted to the wall. The work that went into opening up the cave in the mid 1990s doesn't bear thinking about, but the end result is a pretty impressive cave - the 2nd longest in the Forest of Dean - that still has plenty to explore.

We made our way to the narrow rift with a high level route known as the Satanic Traverses. The intimidating drop beneath us makes it easy to see where the name came from. Ever narrower squeezes and chimney climbs followed before it was time to make our way back to the entrance via the Phraetic Causeway (Google it. It makes sense, honest!)

After an evening training new SARA recruits in basic ropework, my final busy evening took me back to Symonds Yat. The boulders that generate the waves on the rapid have shifted around since my last visit, so despite the high water, some features felt unfamiliar. I have to admit to being a little rusty in an open canoe, but some helpful observations from Bob and Callum aided me in getting back on track. The best part of Symonds Yat? Always the Saracen's Head Inn.

Nose to the Grindstone

After such a busy week it should have been a relief to have this week free, but still keeping busy as ever!

Admin time spent promoting first aid courses for Borderlands Outdoor gives way to climbing time tomorrow and another trip down Miss Graces Lane on Thursday. This summer seems to be shaping up pretty well so far!

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