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

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Still Unseasonal In The Northern Fells!!

I took the school group which is presently residential with us into the Northern Fells this afternoon, its hard to believe its still March. There are a few pictures below in an attempt to illustrate just how incredible this spell of weather is.

Longlands Fell Summit


Brae Fell

Looking towards Skiddaw

Monday, 26 March 2012

Unseasonal in the Northern Fells!

With: Paul Richardson
Weather: warm, dry & sunny
Where: Bannerdale Crags; Lake District, Northern Fells

Regular readers will have noticed the distinct lack of more "outdoorsy" posts of late, this is due to an exceptionally busy passage of time at the Centre. The last two weeks have seen abnormally dry and increasingly warm weather, so tonight I decided that work just had to finish at a sensible time to enable an evening in the Fells. A series of texts through the day led to meeting up with Paul Richardson at Mungrisdale at 5:30 for a short trip over Bannerdale Crags.
y the temperature was still 17 degC as we set off, an added bonus was despite the unprecedented conditions & the start of the Easter Holidays for some there was hardly a soul about.
Up the lane; along the valley; over the footbridge; follow the beck to the confluence with Bannerdale Beck & then start to climb - this is a familiar route. Up the first incline; along the flat section; another pull up; another flat and then the arete towering up above, its steep, slatey and in my view one of the Northern Fells classic routes - I always enjoy it! The climb, thankfully, was in the shade of the bulk of Bannerdale Crags and it wasn't until the summit ridge that we found ourselves bathed in the evening sunshine - the light was incredible.

The walk around the rim of Bannerdale Crags was like a leisurely stroll on a summer's evening. It wasn't until we descended along the miners track that we were passed b y a fell runner, our only human encounter!

Back at the cars by 8:15 to round off an excellent evening.

Driving home along the A595 I saw something I have never witnessed before - Criffel the hill in Dumfries & Galloway visible across the Solway from Blaithwaite was on fire

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Blaithwaite - A Week in March

The Barn on a Busy Night at Blaithwaite
By the time we get to the end of summer   or maybe December or New Year and take out some time to reflect on events at Blaithwaite the month of March is invariably overlooked.
However, in our time here it has always been a month worthy of note: the weather is often surprisingly good as it has been over the last few days and the Centre really begins to come to life as visitor numbers increase sharply.
Since returning to the Centre last Sunday evening we have hosted our third Spring Retreat (fifth retreat overall in the last two years) it was well attended with a good mixture of regular visitors and newcomers to Blaithwaite. The retreat began on Monday afternoon and ended mid-morning on Thursday, it was held in the Main House, the main aim being simply to provide some space and time for folk to take time out away from their normal daily routines, the next one is in October & is already beginning to book up.
Also on Monday West Pelton school arrived for their annual outdoor activity residential, In2venture has been working with the staff and children of this school for twenty years and this event has been held at Blaithwaite for each year since Kay & I have been here - they enjoyed cool but dry weather for a full range of activities including: rock climbing; open canoeing; gorge walking; archery; fencing; night walks; night lines to name a few. 
So after a full Centre change-over on Monday it was another one on Friday in order to get ready for our Saturday arrivals - a large student conference which occupies the full site and spans a total of eight nights, this is one of our biggest events of the year and is always one of the true highlights of the Blaithwaite calendar so tonight sees a bustling and busy Centre under clear skies with spectacular views of the Jupiter - Venus conjunction still visible.
Considering the above & the rapid approach of our year end its been a busy week at Blaithwaite! Unsurprisingly not much opportunity for activity to the extent that I did something that has become very much a rarity - I went for a run, twice!! Not very far (just about 3 miles each time) & not all that quick, however, I enjoyed each time tremendously. Since damaging the remaining "good" knee fell running in Snowdonia last May I have avoided running totally in order to preclude further damage as much as possible - they won't ever recover to the point where long distances in the fells will be possible again but I reckon that the benefit to mind & soul of a couple of outings such as these outweighs the minor additional wear & tear on the joints. Not expecting much in the way of activity opportunities to arise in the coming week so its likely to be a couple of sessions in the gym with Alan!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spring in Swaledale

A snowy Nenthead on Wednesday seemed like a different climate zone away from Spring in Swaledale today!
I've just taken a couple of days off & Kay has been feeling a bit better over the weekend, so we drove back to Blaithwaite via Swaledale - one of our favourite parts of the world. The car temperature guage touched 17 degrees. We stopped at the Kearton Country Hotel for lunch, this has become our preferred spot in the area. As the picture shows the conditions were suitable for al fresco dining for the first time this year.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Brownley Hill - Nentsberry Haggs Connection

With: Alan & Clare
Weather: Snow showers in Nenthead!
Where: Brownley Hills, Bloomsberry Adit, Nenthead, North Pennines

We went back into Brownley Hills again on Wednesday aiming to build on our knowledge of the Wellgill Cross Vein area and locate the connection to Nentsberry Haggs mine. It took slightly longer than we anticipated (due largely to our own misinterpretation of a trip report we had read). In typical Nenthead style just before we entered the mine there was a heavy snow shower - it didn't stick - just got me soaked on the way back from the Community Shop & gave everything a distinctly chill feel.

Once in the mine, via the Bloomsberry Adit, we turned a sharp left at the sump & headed off down the Wellgill Cross Vein. The first site we suspected might be the connection was accessed by a short climb up to the left about 175m along the vein, not far from the white stone arching photographed in a recent post. The area was bolted out (picture below of Alan de-rigging) but unfortunately led nowhere.

Back into the main passage we headed on along the vein in the knowledge from the survey that the Nentsberry Haggs connection was no more than 250m from the sump. On past the area from where it is possible to climb up into flats on the right we continued NW for a short distance (less than 25m) and found another climb up on the left which led into a passage containing a wooden ladder & a slightly awkward climb up into an engine house, we knew from research that the connection was beneath the engine house.
Engine House in Brownley Hills        
Me Descending Ladder Into Nentsberry Haggs

 At this point we were temporarily confused as we had interpreted our pre-trip research as indicating the way on to Nentsberry Haggs was from this engine house. This is in fact not the case. It is necessary to continue on in the passage below (i.e. effectively ignoring the climb up the wooden ladder) for a short distance before climbing down & doubling back in the direction of the engine house - to reveal the top of the first metal ladder leading down into Nentsberry Haggs, Alan & myself descended the ladder way (2 ladders separated by a wood boarded landing) and took the opportunity to dip our toes in the watery Nentsberry Haggs passage below. All told the connection is no more than 25 minutes in from the Bloomsberry Adit.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

In2venture Activity Weekend At Blaithwaite House

Ascending a Fall in Cat Gill

The weekend of 02-04 March was this year's In2venture Activity Weekend at Blaithwaite House, I think it was the best one yet!
It was great to welcome friends back to the Centre, we reckon Ian Grimshaw holds the record of having been on every activity weekend, with Brendan & Sarah just one behind. The weather started off as "interesting" with enough heavy rain & hail on Saturday morning to give the cavers something to think about, there was snow in the fells overnight on Saturday to provide stunning views as the sun came out on Sunday morning.
Activity choices worked out very well this year & saw us working as two groups, on Saturday: myself & Graham took a group into the mountains (Deepdale; Link Cove Beck; Hart Crag; Dove Crag & Hartsop-above-How) while Alan, Clare and the cavers went to Upper & Lower Long Churns in the Yorkshire Dales. 

On a much cooler Sunday morning activity choices once again worked out nicely to split us into a Ghyll Scrambling group (again myself; Graham & Ferg took a group into Cat Gill and then on to Walla Craggs for very impressive views of Lakeland). Alan, Clare and the others canoed on Bassenthwaite where initially flat calm conditions were favourable for an open water crossing. Great Weekend - next years is already booked 01-03 March 2013.

Limestone pavement on Ingleborough
Underground in the Churns

Alan Rainford & the cavers just before going underground

"Team Morpeth Road" on the Hartsop-above-How ridge

Cat Gill was excellent

Flat calm conditions on Bassenthwaite Lake
Thanks to all who provided photographs for the weekend: John Wood, Chris Turner & Clare. I'll aim to get as many as possible on to the blog via the facebook link.