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

Sunday, 27 February 2011


This Weeks Stats & Diary

Its been a week of non-stop navigating both on activities & as we approach our 2010-2011 year end at the Centre.

Stickle Tarn & Pavey Ark - you can imagine what the vis was like!!

27/02/11 Campcraft Session - got my Terra Nova Solar tent out for a practise run today
26/02/11 Lord's Seat & Broom Fell; Navigation Practise (approx 5 miles & 1500' ascent)
24/02/11 Pike o' Stickle; Harrison Stickle & Pavey Ark; Navigation Practise (approx 6 miles & 3000' ascent)

(all in miles)
This week
This year
Ascent (run/walk) this week
This Year

Lord's Seat & Broom Fell
With: on my own
Weather: clear; cool; fresh NW wind; good vis

This corner of the lakes beyween Whinlatter to the south & the A66 to the immediate north is not an area I have visited before. Grassy hills with lots of forrestry - not really my favourite. However, I needed to do a session on 1:50,000 maps (used landranger 90) & this area suited my purposes / the time available. I parked up at Wythop Hall & worked my way up Lord's Seat via several features before crossing the saddle to the summit of Broom Fell - small hill - huge cairn! Great views to Skiddaw as its summit cleared of cloud. Returned across open fell via a couple more features - successful day, nav worked well.

Statistics: approx 5 miles; 1500' ascent; 2 Wainwrights

Broom Fell Summit

Approaching Lord's Seat

Pike O' Stickle; Harrison Stickle & Pavey Ark

With: on my own
Weather: atrocious - cool; visibility continuously less than 20m above ca. 300m

My objective today was to really test my navigation, as such no complaints about the conditions - the visibility really was low. Set out along Dungeon Ghyll heading towards Pike O'Stickle quite a stiff climb - continuously estimated distances from feature to feature all the way up. Found Pike O' Stickle summit at second attempt - you really couldn't see it & then set off into the wilderness to find a stream confluence - got there ok. Picked out a path junction to get to next & then Harrison Stickle summit where vis was probably at a low. Quite bizarre: at this point out of the mist emerged Brendan & Sarah Robson - just married on Saturday! They are regulars at the Centre but I've not seen them for about a year so it was good to catch up. From here picked out a nearby ring contour before heading off to a tarn close to the "summit" of Pavey Ark. Found the tarn successfully & helped out a hopelessly lost party who were relieved to be set back in the right direction! Headed off in search of head of Bright Beck which I used as a handrail down to Stickle Tarn & then back to the car. Barely used a path throughout - all done on compass; pacing & by following contour features. I did make a couple of mistakes but was able to identify them & correct - well pleased with the day.
Stats: 6 miles; 3,000' & 3 Wainwrights
Stickle Ghyll - with ample water
Centre Life (www.blaithwaite.co.uk)

Early Spring is always a really special time of year at Blaithwaite. The first signs of new life are all around & the first few rays of warm sun build expectation for the summer! That said it is one of the busiest times of year: we are approaching financial year end with all it entails & we are trying to complete projects before the year kicks off in earnest towards the end of March, no matter how hard we try to plan this phase there always seems to be some reason why it doesn't work out as planned - this year the exceptionally cold winter has impacted our schemes somewhat!
We currently have long term guests in residence - a missionary group part way through a twelve night stay in the Stables. Whilst the weekend saw a returning Church from Manchester enjoy a relaxing weekend of fellowship in the Main House.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Still Prioritising

This Weeks Stats & Diary

19/02/11 Bike (10 miles)
16/02/11 Run - Mixed Terrain in Arkengarthdale (5 miles & 400' ascent)
15/02/11 Walk - Navigation / Ropework Training; Scout Crag, Langdales (4 miles & 1430' ascent)

Visit to CB Inn - Arkengarthdale

RunBikeWalk(all in miles)
This week510419
This year475831136
Ascent (run/walk) this week1830
This Year11930

16/02/11 Run - Arkengarthdale

With: On my own
Weather: Cold (2degC); still; overcast; low vis
This week we spent some of our time off in Arkengarthdale (see below) I went out for a short run - about 5 miles up the road from the CB Inn & then out on to the moor in the direction of Punchard Gill (I think - didn't have a map). The terrain in the Dales suits my decaying physiology better than the Lakes: the grass alongside the roads seems to be short & not a continual quagmire & the moors are frequently disected by (miners?) tracks that are a mixture of grass / small aggregate, all of which is very easy on the joints. Furthermore the gradients are less intense - I could run for hours here. Kay & I have spent so much time in this area over the years we've walked throughout the area; paddled the Swale from Gunnerside down to Catterick & caved in Crackpot. However, I would be quite keen to explore some of the old mine sites in the area - Faggergill (Arkengarthdale); Sir Francis, Bunton etc (Gunnerside)

Quite an overcast scene in the Yorkshire Dales

5 mile run; 400' ascent; 45 mins

15/02/11 - Walk (Scout Crag & the "wilderness" towards Pavey Ark)

With: Glyn Mitchell; Alan-R & Graham

Weather: Awful; persistent rain / snow above 400m

Glyn is our technical advisor for mountaineering / climbing, he's an excellent coach and joined us today for a day of navigation / rope work training - effectively an ML refresher training session. We parked up at foot of Stickle Ghyll & worked our way up Scout Crag using ropes as necessary. Once at the head of Whitegill we did a series of navigation exercises in the snow before heading back down alongside Stickle Ghyll - all very challenging; difficult but incredibly interesting.

Approx 4 miles & 1430' ascent

Other Stuff

We were off for a few days this week, leaving a group in the Main House for the weekend in the care of Alan, Mim & Ferg.
Kay & I bought my Dad a night stay in the CB Inn (http://www.cbinn.co.uk/), Arkengarthdale for his 80th birthday and this was the weekend we went. I love Swaledale & Arkengarthdale. The weather was cold; murky & still but thankfully the sun got out on the Thursday afternoon, especially when we were at Kearton's in Thwaite.

Me at Kearton's in Thwaite

Mum & Dad leaving CB

Kay with Mum & Dad in Reeth

Sunday, 13 February 2011


This Weeks Stats & Diary

I suppose that during a year at Blaithwaite the times are bound to come when things like the demands of "Centre Activities" and / or injuries will influence the amount of stuff that can be done for fun - I think the past week & the next two or so weeks could be such a time. Firstly, I've needed to spend some time getting sorted out for the Mine visit referred to below & secondly I'm needing to prepare for a forthcoming course in the fells. Furthermore, I had an unexpectedly negative reaction to last Sunday's bike ride - very sore right knee which is still to clear up properly (there is more here but won't go into it this week). Apologies - for some reason I cannot get this weeks stats to publish at the start of the post - they are at the end!
Innominate Tarn 10 Feb '11

12/02/11 Seathwaite Wad Mine - "approval" visit with Nigel Ball
10/02/11 Fleetwith Pike; Hay Stacks; Seat; High Crag & High Stile (8 miles & 4,400' ascent). Navigation practise.

I won't go into all the details of a fourth recent trip to the Wad mine in Borrowdale other than to say Alan-R, Graham & myself were joined by Nigel Ball (Tech Advisor - Mines) & his mate Dave. It was an excellent trip on the "approved" vertical route from GOATON'S STAGE - FAREY'S STAGE, good to catch up with Nigel & Dave again. Nigel gave the go ahead for me to run vertical Level 2 trips in the mine & very importantly for the Centre approved a Level 1 circuit entering & exiting at Farey's Stage - including a couple of vertical steps.

Fell Walk: "A Buttermere Round"

With: on my own

Weather: superlatives could not capture the weather today, effectively a summers day - T shirt throughout; crystal clear blue skies; excellent vis; no wind. Absolutely perfect!

The pictures should tell the story of today. The purpose for me was to visit a newish area and practise navigation - which worked pretty well. I've always wanted to climb Hay Stacks as I understand it was Wainwrights's favourite - it was good but probably not mine. Innominate Tarn, however, was truely special, even magical.
I slightly regret not having continued on along the ridge to take in Red Pike & Dodd but they'll just have to wait for another day.
Stats: 8 miles; 4,400'; four Wainwrights - 6 hours

Fleetwith Pike Summit, with cloud rising from valley

The magical Innominate Tarn

The approach to High Crag from Seat

A glimpse of Ennerdale

Centre Life (http://www.blaithwaite.co.uk/) 

Its been another rich & varied week at Blaithwaite: we've a full Centre again this weekend, friends from Churches all over the country on their sixth visit & a Church from the Newcastle area here for a first visit, its good to see the Centre so busy and being used like this.
As the pictures show its been another full week on the maintenance and projects front. We are still waiting for the Kubota Tractor back - this is a huge problem. However, some major tree work is underway which will last well into next week & the campers facilities just need some varnish to complete.

RunBikeWalk(all in miles)
This week001010
This year424827117
Ascent (run/walk) this week5400
This Year10100

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Winter Storms

This Weeks Stats & Diary

This week saw the first winter storm of 2011 at Blaithwaite. The sky was different every day & the mountain weather information service suggested that wind speeds of 100 mph might be recorded on the fell tops on Friday! I don't think it stopped raining for more than an hour from thursday evening until Sunday afternoon when we went for a walk to High Blaithwaite.

06/02/11 Bike - 6 miles
05/02/11 Fell Walking - Glaramara & Allen Craggs
04/02/11 Run - Solway Coast (8 miles) This was a great experience the wind howled & was very difficult to make progress into. I'm starting to enjoy the coast the constantly changing view & rhythmn of the tides coupled with the solitude of the Northern Fells make this a really interesting corner of Cumbria

Solway Storm Friday 4th Feb '11

03/02/11 Bike - 7 miles
02/02/11 Run - Hamsterley Forrest, Co Durham: mixed terrain trail & tarmac (7 miles)

RunBikeWalk(all in miles)
This week1513634
This year424817107
Ascent (run/walk) this week2850
This Year10050'

Fell Walk - Allen Crags & Glaramara

With: Ian Wallace (& Emma the dog)

Weather: Non-stop steady to heavy rain all day; everything above 2,000' very low vis

I've wanted to climb Glaramara for ages & it was good to get out in the fells with Ian for the first time for nearly two years. However, the weather was foul - non-stop rain from beginning to end and low visibility. The only weather positive was that at least the storm force winds had subsided. I forgot to put the memory card back in my camera - so no photos - but it didn't really matter because there wasn't much to see!

6 miles; 2,850' & 2 Wainwrights

Centre Life  (www.blaithwaite.co.uk)

Kay & I have had a few days off this week, so Ferg has been in as Relief Duty Manager.
Kay went on a surprise trip to London with Becky to see Nic, Jo & our grandchildren, she also received some better news from the doctor, it was probably about as good as it could get, treatment will continue but we thank God for the good news. 
While Kay was in London I went over to Darlington for a couple of days, did a run in Hamsterley Forest and caught up with Paul & Joy. The drive home was horrendous in the wind and I had to clear tree debris from the drive just to get back in!
The Centre was full this weekend, our friends from a Church in Durham occupied the full site - it was good to catch up with folk again ahead of their next planned visit for a student conference in March. I always feel a bit sorry for the group when they come away for a weekend and get such terrible weather.
The bulk of the internal winter decorating programme is now finished and on the drier days Richard was able to get outside and make progress on the Rose Garden, the frosts through the last few weeks had damaged some of the new concrete that he had used to fix the edging stones so this had to be re-done, some top soil & turf will see the garden just about complete. Our Kubota tractor & trailer are away being serviced and we could do with these back this week  (and some better weather) to be able to get on with the garden.

A Murky Blaithwaite Earlier This Year