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

Friday, 20 January 2012

Scrambling in Cat Gill

With: on my own
Weather: persistent rain falling as snow above about 400m; cold; low cloud
Where: Lake District; Derwent Fells
A verdant Cat Gill viewed from the entry point which is the foot bridge leading from Great Wood NT carpark

I've been off since completion of the Blaithwaite electrical upgrade project on Monday - a couple of days across in the North East and looking ahead to a weekend with quite a full diary. This left today as the only available day to get outdoors, unfortunately in terms of the weather its the worst day of the week with persistent rain; the Cumbrian sort that soaks everything; blanket low cloud and a raw cold feel. Above about 400m there's a dusting of snow.
What to do?
Cat Gill which drains part of the Derwent Fells just south of Walla Crag has been on the list for ages, its a grade 1 gill scramble.The guidebook describes the gill as being fed by a small catchment area so the reasoning was that it might not be too full today. 
The temperature on the car's gauge at Great Wood car park was a raw 4 degC & the drive past Ullock Pike & Longside Edge had painted a dreak picture of Lakeland. Its not far from the car park to the footbridge in the picture above & there is an easy route down to the bed of the gill from the bridge. Water level could probably be labelled as moderate.
The gill essentially drains an area of moorland above and cascades down the side of the fell as a series of cataracts. Its hard to describe the routes that could be taken and as is the nature of gill scrambling they will vary according to water level. Overall I would say the scrambling is not continuous and the most interesting bits are found by sticking close to the bed of the gill. Its good fun right from the start but by far the most enjoyment is to be had on the numerous waterfalls, at the level today I was able to tackle all except one of the falls and I walked around this one just to avoid a complete soaking. Lower water levels would offer a multiplicity of additional route options and add significantly to the quality of the day. Escape from the bed of the gill is possible just about all the way up and the main hazard is simply the slippery nature of the rock which will always be the case in such an environment.
One of the more interesting falls - got my foot wet here!

In the higher reaches of the gill several other falls tumble in from the right hand side and the general aspect widens out becoming less gorge-like. Eventually a path crosses the stream. I stepped out a little before this point and wandered up & across to the wall which heads roughly north east towards the rocky outcrop which constitutes the summit of Walla Crag. The views today weren't great: a grey moody Derwent Water below and a snow dusted Bleaberry Fell just about visible through the cloud off to the south (photos below). The walk back to Great Wood down the path which runs alongside Cat Gill was over quicker than  anticipated and it was back to the car for close to a complete change of clothing - I never fell in but a combination of wet feet through slipping off rocks; spray from the falls and the persistent rain produced a thorough soaking.

South toward a snow dusted Bleaberry Fell - just visible through the gloomy low cloud

Derwent Water Islands
A short drive back to Keswick and coffee in Java proved to be too irresistible a temptation! There's a petition in the shop at the moment as the local council don't want the outside tables in the summer any longer - its worth getting in to sign it, Keswick wold be a poorer place without them!

Monday, 16 January 2012

More Power

This is quite a geeky post!
Today we completed what has probably been the biggest infra-structure project undertaken at Blaithwaite House in the last couple of decades - an upgrade to the site electrical supply. We have been "short" of electricity for a long time and this work will provide us with a new 100KVA supply - plenty for our needs. It all started back in Spring 2010 - we did the groundwork trenches ourselves; ENS laid the cable; Electricity North West supplied & fitted the new transformer & distribution module; EON supplied & fitted the metering and David Young upgraded all the switch gear. After much negotiation and a few false starts four separate groups of contractors arrived on site today & the final pieces of the jig-saw came together without any problems! The pictures below tell the days story.
Power Off - Working on Overhead Lines


More Hardware

The "Mule" Transporting the New Transformer Across the Field

Hoisting the New Transformer

Contractor Transport

Shiny New Transformer Up & Running

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Speed Machine

Its been a busy start to 2012 at Blaithwaite, the In2venture weekend was followed on Wednesday by the arrival of a church from Lancaster who hold their annual mid-year conference at the Centre. It was great to be able to welcome back many familiar faces & see the conference so well attended.

This week sees the start of a planned 2 week shut down to undertake some major works at Blaithwaite - more of this to follow!

The busy Centre has prevented me from exploiting the welcome settled dry & sunny weather we have enjoyed for the last few days so this morning I tried out, for the first time, this year's Christmas present from Kay. I am no bike expert & in fact I don't always get on that well with them! However, I guess that in the road bike world this one is now a bit of a vintage classic - a Raleigh with Reynolds 501 frame - 20 years old, or more?? (if anyone knows I'm sure you'll tell me). We got the bike from "Rebike" in Carlisle, its a social enterprise which recycles old bikes providing training & employment opportunities for folk who have been out of work for some time.
This mornings trip was through the lanes & hamlets around Blaithwaite, its good cycling territory with undulating terrain which is relatively free from traffic. Getting used to the "thumb wide" tyres; toe clips and twitchy cornering  was interesting, however, on the flat or slightly downhill sections I cannot ever recall traveling faster under my own propulsion! Some adjustment on the gears & brakes will be necessary before a next outing but a very positive start.
View South into the Northern Fells Across Farmland From Aikbank

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Different Format

Experimenting with a different format - let me know what you think?

Off line comments have led to a swift return to the traditional format! - thanks

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sour Milk Gill - Borrowdale

With: Alan Rainford & Glyn Mitchell

Weather: for once it wasn't raining! 
A fine clear day with the cloud above the summits & still very mild for the time of year

Where: Borrowdale, Lake District

Glyn Mitchell is In2venture's technical advisor for mountain based activities - its always an enjoyable day when we are able to get out with him!
Today's plan was to have a look at a more interesting route up to Seathwaite Wad Mine, in an attempt to alleviate the long hard slog directly up the fell side. We elected to have a look at a combined gill scramble up Sour Milk Gill and some bouldering on the numerous rocky outcrops that litter this area of fell.
As can be seen from the photo on the left there was plenty of water in the gill, we worked our way up the right hand side ( as seen in the photo) and found plenty of interesting, safe scrambling with the added bonus of all being able to keep our feet dry. At a convenient point and before ropes became necessary we left the gill and cut a diagonal line up the fell side via numerous straightforward bouldering challenges heading in the general direction of the mines. A final, much shorter than usual, walk brought us to the top entrance. We donned SRT kits and entered the mine abseiling down the top couple of pitches before traversing over the "grand pipe" to return to daylight where we were able to view Borrowdale in a spectacular light.

In2venture Weekend

Last weekend was the annual In2venture weekend at Blaithwaite House, its the one weekend each year when the whole In2venture community get together.

In2venture is a registered charity and sees itself as: "A Christian community committed to enabling the exploration and expression of faith through outdoor activity"
The weekend is always a great opportunity for folk who work as either permanent staff or volunteers for the charity across the North of England to get together; catch up with friends & colleagues; share stuff that's relevant within the organisation; exchange ideas and just take some time out at Blaithwaite House. This year Trustees & Directors of the charity worked extremely hard over the weekend in order to finalise some important changes that will be implemented as the year progresses.

The weekend began with folk gathering on Friday evening followed by some late night socialising. Saturday morning kicked off with mobile worship around the grounds of Blaithwaite - you can get an outline of the theme by clicking here  (content to follow). During the afternoon people either went out or took part in activities at Blaithwaite (Bouldering Wall; Pedal Karts; Fencing) - the long round of Trustees & Directors meetings began. Saturday evening saw more fun, games & socialising - some lasted until the wee small hours.

Sunday worship took place at the summit of a dreek & damp Binsey, in the Northern Fells.
It was an excellent weekend and will hopefully have set the scene for an exciting year at In2venture.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Smallcleugh Mine - A Trip Through Time

With: Alan & Clare
Weather: Stormy wild evening
Where: Nenthead, North Pennines

Me Beginning Abseil at "New Pitch" Above Wheel Flats

The weather at the start of 2012 has continued to thwart our underground plans in the same way it did in the latter part of 2011 - this was planned as a caving trip, however, torrential rain made the decision to divert to the Nenthead mines an easy one.
We decided to do some of the easily accessible vertical sections of the mine, a Smallcleugh - Rampgill through trip: in through the Smallcleugh portal & keep right at the fork heading in the direction of 9 crawls. At Luke Hall's sump we took a left and headed for Wheel Flats where we ascended above the Flats to arrive at the recently bolted pitch - this is a nice addition to this section of the mine & it was good to stop by and have a good look at it (picture above).
We then re-traced our steps to Prouds Sump and abseiled down the two pitches into Prouds Sump Flats - an area quite rich in artefacts & well worth a visit. The final descent down a fixed ladder leads into the Rampgill horse level & a long wade out through sometimes waist deep "Baltic Cold" water. Any way its fairly quick back to Whisky Bottle corner this way & soon back on the visitor centre car park.
This is a good evening underground and a good alternative to a trip to the Dales on a wet night.

Clare at foot of 2nd abseil

A Mining Museum

Great Archaeology

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Day - Bannerdale Crags

With: Jim, Colin & Tony  (all from the New Year group staying at Blaithwaite)
Weather: remaining mild; blustery hail showers; cloud above summits
Where: Lake District, Northern Fells

Approx 5 miles & 1700' ascent

Another northern fells classic: Mungrisdale - River Glenderamackin - Bannerdale Beck - "Arete" - Summit - Miners Track - Mungrisdale

An excellent way to start a new year!

Happy New Year, Mal

The Arete  & Snow Flecked Bannerdale Crags

Bannerdale a Natural Rock Amphitheatre

Colin & Jim Beginning Their Ascent