Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
Thanks for visiting our web pages. Marion & I operate a small outdoor activity organisation called Canoes, Mountains & Caves. We provide activities for: adults, young people, schools, charities, families & individuals. A key aspect of our work is the provision of a "Community Programme" which is offered free of charge to participants. If you think we might be able to help please don't hesitate to contact us, you can find out more about what we do on our main website www.canoesmountainscaves.com

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Advent: Snow & A Minor Milestone

Advent is my favourite season of the year - an opportunity to spend some time in "preparation" the Centre is a bit more quiet, at least from the perspective that we are closed for three weeks in order to undertake planned maintenence, so there is a little more opportunity to get out and about. For me, at least, the time spent out & about is the real quality thinking and reflection time.
We'd already had a bit of snow but on Friday night we had an unexpected downpour which left a few inches even at the Centre giving the place a real picture post card look & producing excellent conditions in the fells.
Also I passed a, very minor, milestone on Saturday by climbing Lonscale Fell - the last one in Wainwright's brown book (book five). I started "bagging" the local Northern Fells just before we moved to Cumbria about six years ago, its never been a quest with any urgency & many of them I've visited numerous times but nevertheless I've really fell in love with this less frequented part of the Lake District and its good to have got round all of the significant high points.
We've not got underground for a few weeks - quite rare really, however, the winter conditions have provided a great environment for running and a rare opportunity for ice axe & crampon stuff in the fells its been a good time.............................

23/11/10 Sail; Eel Craggs (Crag Hill) & Outerside - run

With: On my own

Weather: Dry; Frosty; Clear Blue Sky

Got up early this morning to go out for run, this is unusual for me as I've always found morning execise difficult. Had to scrape ice off car before setting off on short drive to the Newlands Valley. When I arrived at Stair the first strands of light were appearing & it was off once again up the mine track alongside Stoneycroft Ghyll. Ignoring the slash of a path up on to the ridge around Scar Crags I continued up past what I think is the old Cobalt mine, enjoying views down into Coledale, before making Sail pass. The way on was up the new path - hope this isn't a vision of the Lake District future (although it has to be said the erosion was severe on the old one) on to Sail, actually quite an enjoyable section up this path before a superb ridge run (interupted by a little scrambling) on to the most amazing snow dusted summit of Eel Craggs. Stopped to take a few photos before running back off, munching breakfast, the same way I came up. Continued to retrace my steps until a shortish distance after the mine where I struck off over part frozen open fell to gain the lower slopes of Outerside. A quick run up to and along the summit ridge before "bushwhacking" back down to the Stoneycroft mine track & back to the car.

Great way to spend the first part of the morning!

8 miles / 3,000' ascent / 2hrs 20min

Shadows & footprints close to the summit of Eel Craggs 
 Vision of the future?

New path off Sail
View back down the ridge towards Causey Pike

27/11/10 Lonscale Fell

With: Graham

Weather: Clear blue sky (except on summit!!); a covering of fresh powdery snow

Met Graham just off the A591, thankfully I was driving the Centre's Subaru Forester, the point at which I waited for Graham was effectively the "roadhead" for anyhting other than 4 wheel drive vehicles & there was some entertainment in watching the skidding & fruitless revs as many attempted unsuccessfully to get up to the car park behind Lattrig that is for so many the start of the motorway up Skiddaw. We were the only vehicle that made it!!
We made off up the main footpath to the point just before Jenkin Hill where it splits, letf to Lower man, right to Lonscale Fell. We followed the fence line just above Whit Beck until we met a perpendicular fence, through the gate, sharp right and we were on the summit in no time. Typically the bright blue sky was temporarily interupted whilst we took photos of quite a wintery scene before heading back down over open fell. Our line was south & west until we met Whit Beck again which we decided to drop into & climb out of in order to give the ice axes & winter gear a brief outing - the best part of the day. Re-gaining the main Skiddaw motorway the benefit of our early start was enjoyed as the hordes began to ascend. By the time we got back to the car park one other landrover had made it. The walk took us just an hour & a half but we hadn't really imagined the terrifying drive back down the road from the car park that we had smugly negfotiated in ascent earlier that morning, it was quite tense!

A wintery Lonscale Fell

29/11/10 Steel Fell & Ullscarf

With: Paul Rose; Greg Paterson; Alan-R; Graham; R&R

Weather: Clear blue skies for most of day; minimum of several inches of powdery snow lying on hard frozen ground

This was a cracking day out. Parked near the stile on the A591 below Steel Fell and headed straight up the steep slope - axe essential, crampons very useful! Reached Dead Crag - is this the summit of Steel Fell (?) to excellent views in all directions: Morecambe Bay; Windermere; Coniston Fells; just about everything really. Dropped down into Wyth Burn for lunch before another steep ascent, Greenhow Craggs (from memory? don't have map handy at moment) which ultimately led to the main path along the fence line leading to Ullscarf summit. Clouded over a bit at this point to spoil the previously unmatchable views. Descent was via a series of ghylls; the beacon & a very steep section down to the farm at the south end of Thirlmere. A short walk along the bridleway parallel to the A591 saw us back to the vehicles in the dark - all good!!
Distance about 6 miles; out from about 10:00 till 4:30

 Graham on Steel Fell
 Me on Ullscarf

Paul Rose in ascent!

Team In2venture

Monday, 22 November 2010

A Week of Two Halves

I guess this week was always going to be a week of two halves. Our days off in the second half of the week were heavily "booked out" so any activity was set for the earlier part of the week. It started off well with a Causey Pike circuit and a night run up Dale Beck / Roughton Gill. Both were quite short outings with the plan being to step up the distance for the first time for several weeks on Wednesday. Unfortunately the longer outing didn't happen due to a dose of food poisoning! Still recovered now and looking forward to a busy week.

13/11/10 Causey Pike - Run

With: On my own

Weather: Fine clear day with good vis; brisk breeze on summit; patches of snow persisting on higher peaks

Set off from layby at Stoneycroft (same place we park when ghyll scrambling) & ran up track towards Oughterside. Nice steady run. Continued past several sets of waterfalls that I'd not seen before, the ghyll was in spate & looked impressive. Continued up wet path to intersect summit ridge before rocky scramble over & around some small pinnacles to make the summit.

Took camera, so a few views from Causey summit:

Grisedale Pike

Snow on Helvellyn Range

Way down

Relatively short run: approx 4.5 miles; 2,000' of ascent; 80 mins - really enjoyed it!

16/11/10 Dale Beck & Roughton Gill - Night Run

With: On my own

Weather: Cool, dry, clear evening

The relatively short distance from Fell Side up to Roughton Gill along the mine track has been a long time favourite that I repeat often. It offers all kinds of options: just about any point of the Gill is reachable; you can carry on up to the Knott quite easily; head off up Brae Fell; explore any of the numerous Dale Beck tributaries; or just simply run up and back the same way. The list of variants is almost endless. However, I have been looking for an off-road night run for this winter and I'd never done this in the dark before. So I set off from Fell Side just before dark, it was quite a clear evening - easy pace up the track; round the "hairpin" bend; past the ruins & over Hay Gill. A little further on & crossed Dale Beck before continuing on the west side of the valley to the foot of the waterfalls. Gained height as the light quickly faded but my eyes had become accustomed to the dark so didn't need headtorch yet. I crossed Roughton Gill close to the "Coffin Level" mine (wet feet as level was quite high) and scrambled up the far bank before dropping back down to the brick mine building & heading off back towards Fell Side in blackness. Stopped at Hay Gill to take some more photos before returning to civilisation!
This worked well as a night run - so I'll return.

View down Dale Beck - just going dark

Moon over Iron Cra

Friday, 12 November 2010

A Good Week

Despite the efforts of continuing very mixed weather its been a good week. Above & below ground activity has happened with just a planned open canoe trip on the upper South Tyne being cancelled due to the weather.

10/11/10 Seathwaite Wad Mines

With: Alan-R; Graham; Kevin & Paul Rose

Weather: Bright starry night with snow on the surrounding Borrowdale summits

 We parked up at Seathwaite, walked through the farm & over the bridge before the brutal ascent up to the top mine entrance. I've not measured it but guess it must be 1,000-1,500' of near vertical ascent up very vague paths. Carrying rope; metalwork etc. for the trip it takes the the thick end of an hour to get up there.

Once at the top entrance the first two pitches had been left well rigged on eco bolts & with 10mm static rope, we all abseiled down before following the lower passage to the "Grand Pipe" at this point Graham traversed aound the hole out to daylight and left us for the remainder of the trip. I rigged the pitch for a pull through and the rest of us continued down (about 30m?). We needed to explore before pulling through & committing ourselves, after a while confident we had found the "window" we did proceed and found the head of a shorter 10-15m pitch the eco bolts had by now given way to more dubious anchors & the rest of the mine was full of "tat" we pulled through on the short pitch & then again on a much longer (30-35m) very wet pitch (it was rigged with a deviation but it didn't help much). The final pitch was rigged and being careful to avoid a shower of rocks on to the abseilers we all dropped down, under the squeeze and out along a wet level into the starry night.

Excellent evening!!

09/11/10 Ullock Pike - Run

With: On my own

Weather: Strong north easterly; squally wintery showers; snow lying above about 450m (knee deep in drifts)

Set off from the layby on the Orthwaite Road directly on to the fell & took route up from the Southerndale side. After the gate on the main track quickly gained height on to the ridge where the weather conditions became very interesting, a few meters towards Southerndale and the wind blasting out of the valley would literally knock me over; few meters towards Bassenthwaite Lake side and it was almost a flat calm! Continued up over the rockier final parts of the ascent through deepening snow - had to put on all the spare gear I was carrying for the full winter conditions before quickly reaching the Ullock Pike summit, Skiddaw was clagged in & the scene into Southerndale was very wintery. Tried to take some pictures but camera on my phone has packed in. Ran down to complete in about 1:45.

Will post distances / heights when I've measured them (& try to post a map if I can master the technology??)

No photos - camera broke!

Other Stuff

Spent two days fell walking (Northern Fells) with the school staying at the Centre for the week, Fist day we did Longlands & Lowthwaite in very windy, overcast conditions but at least it stayed dry. Second day we took two groups (a.m & pm) up Binsey in the most appalling conditions got soaked on each occassion!
A one hour session on the static bike rounded off a good week!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Coming Out of Rehab?

We've had very unsettled weather to the west of the pennines this week with some significant rainfall which washed out mid week caving plans. With Kay still on Grandparent duty down south & a busy Centre through half term week opportunities to do very much other than work have been few & far between.

However, encouragingly I was able to get out and run off road twice, so coming out of rehab?

27th October: Binsey

On my own; evening run in blustery overcast conditions.

Binsey, the northern outpost of the Lake District is only a few minutes away in the car & has been a regular short run venue in recent years. I parked in the layby off the A591 which is almost opposite the main track up the hill. The route was straight up the track; round the top of the disused quarry; dart under west craggs & on to the summit. The summit didn't offer any spectacular views, if anything the visibility north towards the Solway was better than a very "clagged in" Lake District to the south. I re-traced my steps back down covering the distance of just a little over 2 miles with 1,000' of ascent in a time close to my normal times on this route.

No reaction to the first ascent since the OCR nearly a monthe ago - very pleased with the come back!

Me on Binsey Summit

Binsey Summit Furniture With Skiddaw in Background

02 November:  Charlton Gill

On my own; foul conditions - torrential rain; 40mph winds; low visibility

Charlton Gill is a secluded part of the northern fells separating Brae Fell from Longlands & Lowthwaite Fells - if I'm totally honest I didn't set off to just run up the gill, I'd planned to take in Great Sca Fell & Lowthwaite / Longlands but after making progress that wasn't much above walking pace along the track from Greenhead & fording the knee deep gill I was already having doubts about getting high today. The route up the valley was very wet underfoot & although a little more sheltered the visibility deteriorated progressively as height increased. Despite full body covering the downpour had me soaked to the skin by the time I was ascending Great Sca Fell & I decdided that discretion was the better part of valour so turned round and headed back down.

I haven't measured the route but would estimate around a 4 mile run

So no great distances covered in the first week back in the fells but no adverse reaction, overall very pleased with progress. Hopefully better routes to cover in coming weeks.

Other Stuff 

 2 x 1 hour sessions on the bike
I'd have posted some photos but my phone got soaked in my pocket running up Charlton Gill - I did say it was wet!!