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Something Different

It's been another busy week at Duchy College.  I've been concentrating on teaching the guys and girls the basics of navigation.  We've been looking at maps, landforms, navigational strategies, grid references, access etc, whilst on trips to Dartmoor, the North Coast and the local area around the college.  It's amazing how much navigation we do, unconsciously - we do it every day AND without the need to resort to a GPS!  Whether its going to work, the shops or taking the kids to school, we are using navigational strategies, such as landmarks, tick-off features, hand-railing to get to our destinations, so navigating using a map should be easy...... Fortunately for us, the weather was kind to and the students did really well, with some gaining the National Navigation Award Scheme Bronze Award, those who didn't quite mke it just need to go out and practise some more (go to it, guys).
 
The Foundation Degree students on the Adventure Sport Coaching course elected to go surfing, so we headed up to Polzeath to sample some small, clean surf.  As a qualified Beach Lifeguard and a Level 2 Surf Coach, I was asked to run the sessions.....well, someone has to do it!  Wednesday's surf conditions were perfect for learning and coaching.  It was hard to get them out of the water to go back to college, as they were enjoying themselves too much!  I also got to catch a few waves myself., tentively at first, as I wasn't sure how my foot would cope (it's still recovering from a nasty break and dislocation).  I needn't have worried, as after the first wave, I had forgotten about it.  Surfing is such a great experience.  You can enter the water with all the troubles of the world on your shoulders, but after that first wave, the weight is lifted, you stand tall and are grinning, ear to ear!
 
Gunver Head Sea Stack, first climbed by Mick FowlerOn Sunday afternoon, I went exploring on the coast between Padstow and Trevone. This climbing backwater has had some attention over the years, from famous climbers such as Mick Fowler and Pat Littlejohn.  Most are on dubious rock, where a careful attitude is required.  Definately for those of an adventurous disposition.  There are a few gems, most notably, 'Little Robert' and 'Red Parade', graded VS and E1 respectively.  I am keen to venture onto the stack at Gunver Head. This boasts a Fowler route from the mid-eighties.  I doubt whether it's ever been repeated.  Just got to wait until a low spring tide and the calm seas of summer.
 
On this part of the coast is the access ramp for the entrance to the Padstow Consol lead mine.  Walking the coast path, there is hardly any evidence that mining took place here, not even the remains of an engine house.  Those who look carefully will find the slot cut into the edge of the cliff.  This metre wide slot descends for 50 metres to the mine entrance, some 15 metres above the sea.  Access is by abseil only.  Three old stakes are the anchors for the abseil, then it's a careful descent down to a small rock platform and the mine entrance, which is hidden from above.  It's hard to believe people worked there.  The descent must have been terrifying, especially if a large sea was running.  I had a peek into the adit, but didn't venture in too far.  I was on my own, and old mines are very dangerous places, if you don't know what you are doing.  I'm keen to go back with the right equipment and someone who knows what they are doing.  I reckon I must have been the only visitor in the past 20 years!  Getting back up to the cliff top involved using jumars - mechanical ascenders that slide up the rope, but then lock when weighted.  They come from the caving world, but have seen a crossover to mountaineering and climbing.
 
Padstow Consol mine entrancePadstow Consol access abseil

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