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, 31 July 2011

Looking At Kit (3)

Blaithwaite has been exceptionally busy over the last 10 days or so, our biggest group of the year left on Saturday after a week of wall to wall sunshine (it was such a good week on so many levels) & following a busy change over day we have three buildings in use again this week with the camp field due to fill up as the week goes on.

I've not had any time to get out recently but with Kay away to New Wine today I've done some geeking about with kit again. The headline is that without too much loss of functionality I've got my standard group day weight down from 6950g to 5590g (20%). I've also contrived to lose 5kg in body weight recently which I don't think is a bad result. There is a bit of an explanation, at least about the kit below.

First thing is I bought a new rucsac, after years of good service from an OMM Adventure Light 20 which I used on extended fell runs ( eg. Old Crown Round); as a small day pack & when travelling on hols. I didn't experience any hint whatsoever of the sometimes mentioned  lack of durability -so I opted for the OMM Classic 32.
I reckon that it will:
- get everything in thats needed for a day for myself & a group (could easily fit a rope on top of everything else)
- definitely save me at least 190g in weight depending on how I use it
- possibly double as an overnight lightweight camping bag subject to me makng a few alterations to how I presently camp (the bag is clearly the choice of a lot of mountain marathon runners)



Item

weight



31/07/11




First aid (group)

420
Spare Food

60
Emergency Shelter (group)

650
Survival Bag

440
Crab & Sling

300
GPS

240
Spare Compass

0
Spare torch

120
Spare group clothes

230
Whistle

0








Rucsac

700
Poles

640
Silva 4 Compass

60
Map

260
Head Torch

210
North Face Apex Wind Shirt

0
Knife

120
Montane Litespeed H20 Jkt

220
Montane Atomic Overtrousers

260








Camera + bag + batteries

660















5590

The other main weight saving changes are:
- no whistle (one built in to the chest strap)
- no spare compass (the regular Silva 4 and a GPS sufficient?)
- no Apex wind shirt (just bought a new Montane Sabretooth soft shell so will test for a while the combination of this / thin fleece under it / Montane Litespeed H20 as a clothing combination)

So total kit now looks like this:

From top left: gloves; first aid kit & spare food (red bag); camera / batteries (Fuji Finepix S2000 HD in green bag); buff; Head torch & spare; Montane Litespeed H2O; Montane Atomic Overtrousers; penknife; wooly hat; GPS; long sling + crab
Survival bag; group shelter & spare group clothing (light weight waterproof / windproof; mittens; fleece hat).
Not shown in photos are my trekking poles & a map

Thursday, 28 July 2011

First Cortisone Injection

I try not to spend too much time reporting on the continuing saga of my knees! However, I thought some of the "dodgey knee" readers might be interested to hear of my first encounter with a steroid injection.

There is a long history associated with this but to try & summarise:

Left knee: diagnosis by MRI (last October); extensive "wear & tear"; partial tear in medial meniscus. Likely ultimate outcome - knee replacement. However, this needs to be delayed as long as possible so in the meantime more careful management of activity; use of NSAIDs; much less fell running & much less caving. Fell walking; paddling etc all still ok to do.

Right knee: basically its been exactly where the other one has, suffers similar symptoms + an injury (possible medial meniscus tear) while running 12 weeks ago - oops! At this stage assumed to be in similar condition to above.

I went to see the GP earlier in the week - my GP's surgery have been hugely helpful - and he suggested a cortisone injection to the right knee for the following reasons:

- its has been considerably more painful than the left one of late
- the cortisone should provide pain relief
- the injection should help to distinguish between pain caused by wear & tear (i.e. it ought to relieve this type of pain), whilst being less effective against pain caused by flapping tears of cartiallige. i.e. a diagnostic element

Outcome: the injection wasn't especially painful but so far has resulted in total relief of all pain symptoms!
I guess overall I've got to regard this as a good result at least in the short term, the only negative is that it points to the likely root cause being much more to do with long term wear & tear (i.e. ultimately knee replacement for this one too) rather than just meniscus damage which could be fixed by arthroscopy.

I'd love to hear any comments on this one!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Glorious

Saturday saw the start of Blaithwaite's single biggest week of the year: camp field & all buidlings full; we've been fortunate enough to host this week every year since coming to Blaithwaite & its good to catch up with folk who have become friends over the years - its a real high point in the Centre calendar.The sun came out for the campers & the weather looks set fair. 
To make things even better Jo & Evelyn are visiting, its only the fourth time I've seen our Grand Daughter - what a blessing!
I've just taken a few photos out of the conservatory, there's a couple below & a few more on facebook.

Looking towards the Solway

The Coach House

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wild Camp, Haycock

With: Paul Rich & Fergus
Weather: Awful - persistent drizzle; light north westerly wind; mild; visibility less than 10m above 450m
Distance: Total approx. 8 miles
Paul Cooking Tea

Ferg & I met Paul by Nether Beck in Wasdale at about six o'clock on Tuesday evening. The weather at this point was dry albeit it overcast with the top of Yewbarrow in & out of low cloud. We took our time & headed north following the Beck. Originally we had planned to head up to Scoat Tarn & then pick off a summit or two after setting up camp & having something to eat. However, we were all a bit late getting away so instead we opted for a plan of camping around the confluence of Nether Beck & the beck which flows out of Scoat Tarn. We picked our spot as the drizzle began and quickly had camp set up and the stoves on. Ferg & I went for the Wayfarer beef stew & dumplings (very good) whilst Paul made fish pasta - smelt good! After a fairly leisurely first part to our trip we decided to go for a night nav on Haycock. The light was "dim" as we set off in steady drizzle & lowering cloud base at around 21:45.
We hadn't climbed too far up Lad Crag before we were in thick mist and fading light, it wasn't long before visibility was down to below 10m and the rest of the evening was spent taking compass bearings & measuring distance. We made it to Haycock summit at 23:00 - I'll have to go back to see what its really like up there!
Ferg & Paul on Haycock Summit

The nav down was probably harder but we got back problem free apart from a comical few minutes when we were no more than 25m from our tents but just couldn't see them! Reflective tape will be added to the tent next time we do this. It was approaching 1 am - just time for lemon tea & a small dram before calling it a night.

We were up again by seven & on the move by eight after porridge for breakfast -  still raining!



An excellent short adventure & really good to get out with Paul again. We're planning to do some more of these in the coming weeks & months - watch this space.
Wednesday Morning - Still Raining

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Looking at Kit (2)

This post is related to my recent post of the same title. I have an overnight wild camping trip planned for later this week so thought it would be good to weigh in the extra items of kit in order to provide a baseline total weight for this kind of activity as well.
Again, I have not included food or fluids - this could be a significant variable but for the record I will probably carry: 1 litre of water & purify after its gone; instant lemon tea; 2 Wayfarer meals for the evening and oatcakes / energy bars for breakfast.
Ferg will carry one or two additional items that I have not listed but other than that the list is fully representative of what I plan to carry. Once again it is by no means optimised & a thread to which I intend to return!


Item





Weight








First aid





420
Spare Food




60







Survival Bag




440
Crab & Sling




300
GPS





240
Spare Compass




60
Spare torch




120
Whistle





30
Rucsac





2000
Poles





640
Silva 4 Compass




60
Map





260
Head Torch




210
North Face Apex Wind Shirt



420
Knife





120
Montane Litespeed H20 Jkt



220
Montane Atomic Overtrousers



260
Camera + bag + batteries



660
Sleeping bag (2 season)



1540
Thermarest




940
Terra Nova Solar Tent



1940
Trangia, spork, matches



800
Meths / container




390
Mug





80
Water purification kit



90
















TOTALS





12300

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Morning On Barrow

With: Fergus (+ 14 Year 6 visitors & 2 school staff)

Weather: Dry & sunny with a light North Easterly breeze keeping temperatures manageable

Route: Braithwaite; Braithwaite Lodge; Barrow Summit; Barrow Door; Barrow Beck; Braithwaite (approx 4 miles)

Above: Ferg on Barrow Summit

Left: Path off towards High Stile & on up the valley

Caving With Scripture Union

The weather has been good so far this week. As such we were able to take the lengthy drive down to Upper & Lower Long Churn caves with the Scripture Union group who are staying at the Centre.
I took a group of 8 in via Doctor Bannister's Hand Basin, water levels were quite low but sufficient to keep things interesting. We did a full traverse of the system exiting via the Diccan Pot entrance. Double Shuffle & Plank Pools were negotiated with mixed success by our guests with a good half of them taking a swim!
A very enjoyable afternoon's caving for the group!
Sorry no pictures this time.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Blaithwaite's Biggest Activity Week

Headend Quarry
The past week was Blaithwaite's biggest activity week of the year, we had two schools in with 86 pupils + staff on activities simultaneously from Tuesday afternnon until Friday lunchtime. Off site activities included: Gorge Walking; rock climbing & open canoeing. There was a full on site programme covering: archery, fencing, team building activities, woodland weasling, mountain biking & "Kidz Klub" (our contemporary youth church). 
I spent two & a half days rock climbing at Headend Quarry  (http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=1268) we dodged the showers, enjoyed the sun & got the vast majority of our guests up all of the climbs we set up, a good quota also conquered their fears and abseiled as well.
Wednesday was spent running three open canoeing sessions on Bassenthwaite Lake where we were less successful in avoiding the frequent monsoon like downpours! 

I managed to spend some time on the Solway coast over the weekend - we are so fortunate to have the mountains of the Lake District on our front doorstep & the little visited beaches of the Solway Firth as our back garden. 

Saturday morning was spent kite buggying with Rob Bianchi - first time for me & a very enjoyable few hours. I got several good runs in. 

On Saturday evening Kay got back after a week of grandparent duty so we re-visited the coast on Sunday afternoon and continued to enjoy the run of improved weather of late. Just now I'm sat in the conservatory watching the sun go down over Criffel, the picture below is what I can see.



A good week at the office!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Looking At Kit

I've got some group mountain days coming up in the next few weeks so have done something new for me - weigh what I normally carry with a view to reducing overall load. The stuff that I carry is probably not what everybody would take when out for a day & its certainly never been optimised for weight so hopefully this is the start of a process of refinement. I think it will in turn influence what I take with me when running in the fells (perhaps this might be a future thread) & also what I carry on expedition - something I hope to do more of in coming months. So here is the list: excluding food & fluids:

890g Berghaus freeflow light (32l) rucsac
030g Whistle
440g Survival Bag
650g Group Shelter
540g Spare Group Clothing
060g Spare Food
300g Crab & Sling
140g Hat, Gloves & Buff
440g First Aid Kit
420g North Face Apex Wind Shirt
660g Camera + Bag + Spare Batteries
120g Knife
210g Headtorch
120g Spare Headtorch
060g Spare Compass
220g Montane Litespeed H2O Jacket
260g Montane Atomic Overtrousers
060g Compass
260g OS Laminated Map
080g Glasses & Case
640g Poles

6.60Kg TOTAL

For day group kit I don't really have any reference points, however, this sounds quite heavy to me. So hopefully I'll be able to start reducing the load!

A couple of additional thoughts:
1. I've just read an item in Trail Running 4/2011 p.109 on packing for a lightweight adventure which indicates the author packs under 6kg for an overnight event: including tent, sleeping bag, stove, food etc. Now I know that I am carrying stuff that is not just for myself (eg. spare group gear, group shelter) and other stuff that I choose to carry in order to improve the overall experience (eg. camera) but it does imply that there must be some significant improvements I can make that should reduce the load.
2. Now this is not about weight I pack in a bag & carry on my back but my BMI has been constant at 25-26 for several years now, it would seem that a fairly simple hit of 2-4kg could readilly be achieved with some minor weight loss whilst still maintaining BMI at or just under 25. Hence making a very significant reduction.
3. Last time I went out I used poles for the first time for ages. This was mainly to try to help with knees (which also applies to all of the above). I certainly found they helped. However, navigation was different in that I usually carry a map all the time, if visibility was bad & I needed to micronav I would have to put the poles away - so I guess this is a minor problem. However,maybe if I revert to paper maps in a case I could keep the map accessible - a possible compromise? This is an experiment to continue.

Hoping to get out for some "gentle jogging" this afternoon - first running for just over eight weeks

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Special Evening - Red Pike & Dodd (Buttermere)


With: On my own

Weather: Hot & sunny; virtually no wind (Started at 17:15 & 24 degC; finished at 21:00 & 19degC)

Approx: 6 miles & 2,200' ascent

Time: 3 hours 45 mins

The Buttermere fells are fast becoming one of my favourite Lake District destinations. Tonight I shut down the Centre by 4 o'clock & was walking away from the car in Buttermere by quarter past five on a hot, dry & sunny evening. The photos tell the rest of the story.



Bleaberry Tarn

Dodd Summit

Red Pike

Red Pike Summit looking into sunset over Irish Sea

High Stile Ridge

Getting Near End of Term

We've just had our biggest single school group of the year at the Centre.Sixty three pupils on activities - industrial scale. 
The school is a High School & we take Years 7-10.
Year 10's do a separate programme: bushcraft; team development tasks; mountain day (Grisedale Pike & Hopegill Head) and an open canoe day (Derwent Water)
Year 7-9 spwnd the first day & a half rotating through a five activity programme (this year: kayak; rock climb; ghyll scramble; mountain bike & on site multi-sports) before picking an activity to specialise in for the next two full days.
I spent most of the first three days charging around the North Lakes in a minibus but ended the week with a great day in Penton Gorge on the River Lidd - great week!