This report is part of a series from members across the district for the Annual General Meeting to be held online on 8th July 2020.

October half term saw 38 Scouts and Explorers from New Forest North travel to the Lake District for a week of walking, climbing and caving in the Ribble Valley in neighbouring Yorkshire. A crack team of Leaders were assembled, and plans were made to give the young people an expedition to remember. In the months before leaving for the Lakes, 3 training days took place to ensure that all the Scouts were properly prepared for the mountains. We left the gloomy New Forest on the first Saturday of the holidays and 6 hours later arrived at Great Towers where Windermere and Cartmel bunk houses would become our home for the week. And what a week it was; we were truly blessed with the weather, which saw glorious
sunshine right through to Friday.

Once up at the Lakes we were joined by a team from Ferny Crofts who would run our climbing adventures in Patterdale. So every day we would have Scouts out walking, climbing or caving and as Leaders we got to watch our young people grow before our eyes in confidence and clearly gain a love for the beautiful Lake District. A full programme of fun evening entertainment was provided, including an extremely informative trip to Kendal Mountain Rescue where we were shown and had explained to us the varied and interesting work undertaken by the volunteers. We
presented a cheque to the Mountain Rescue Team a donation from the District to help them continue to provide the amazing service to the community and visitors to the Lakes. This was made all the more special when the following day we received an email from the Mountain Rescue Team describing our Scout’s behaviour as the best they had seen at a base visit.

The walking commenced with a warm up on Lingmoor Fell, beautiful views, with snow sighted on Scafell Pike, and progressed to days on Wansdale Pike, Grisedale and Fairfield. The Scouts enjoyed the high points of their trip by scaling a very windy Old Man of Coniston tackling various paths depending on ability with some of them taking to a bothy at the summit to eat lunch. A small group of extremely able walkers made up of both Explorers and Scouts went for a high scramble with James Redfern from Ferny Crofts up Pavey Arc. A subsequent post on Instagram about the
adventure drew the attention of Matt Baker from the One Show, who offered his congratulations on this day. One peak was not enough for this group who summited High rise and Harrison Stickle too, their very own 3 peaks in the Langdales. Friday saw our first rain for the week. It was as if the weather felt it had a week’s worth of downpour to make up for. Undeterred and with waterproofs that had just been carried around in back packs all week, the walking groups ventured out into the hills and walked to and around Cathedral Quarry, which provided the perfect place to eat lunch in the relative dry.

When it came to caving the Scouts and Explorers went boldly into a caving system called long churn. Intrepidly they explored the lower and higher sections of the caves moving through sections such as the Cheese Press, a particularly challenging part of the caves where at its tightest point it was no more than 20cm high. They also went through parts of the cave called the Baptistry, Heaven and finally Doctor Bannister’s Stairway. Everyone found the caving to be an awesome experience and enjoyed the mix of team and individual challenges they had to test them during their time underground.

The climbing and abseiling in Patterdale was also well received by our group, who under the guidance of the Ferny Crofts team ascended and descended the rock face. For many the biggest challenge was the cold, whilst the days were beautifully sunny the face being climbed remained in shade and was cold to touch, but a whole lot of fun.

Saturday saw us sadly leave the Lakes for an extremely wet and miserable drive back to the New Forest, an incredible adventure having been had by all.

Craig Challis
Assistant District Commissioner (Growth)

AGM 2019-20: Lake District Expedition.
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