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, 29 April 2012

Esk Pike; Bowfell & A Round of Tarns

With: on my own
Weather: a fine dry day with cloud above the summits but the easterly wind was bitterly cold
Where: the Lake District - starting & finishing from Seathwaite (approx 11 miles & 3,300' ascent)

Big Views From Bowfell Summit
Yesterday was a good day in the lakes bright sunny intervals; high cloud; dry although quite cold in the brisk easterly wind. Its been a difficult week, Kay isn't very well at all at the moment and spent a couple of days being treated in hospital on Monday & Tuesday, her Mum & Dad and our middle daughter have come up for the weekend and spent some time looking after her so I took the opportunity to go out and spend a few hours thinking and reflecting on the situation.

Even at just after 10:00 the queue of parked vehicles at Seathwaite was long, it was some distance from the farm where that last faff with boots & kit took place before setting off. Through the farm & up the track to Stockley Bridge another one of those places where the walk into the mountain environment gives a hint of what's to come. Over the bridge and the long pull alongside Grains Gill began - the view ahead is dominated by the bulk of Great End which appears to block the way on. Across the ford and take a left for the short ascent towards Esk Hause Shelter under ever clearing skies, the views from the Hause not really being done any justice by the picture below.

I've never visited either either Esk Pike or Bowfell before in daylight, its always been as part of night nav exercises either when training or under assessment conditions so it was good to be out in these high fells with no agenda other than to enjoy them. The rocky summit of Esk Pike provided plenty of sheltered spots out of the wind for a first lunch break, the sun was warm. It was enjoyable to hop from rock to rock on the descent to Ore Gap before the next gradual ascent up on to Bowfell and the hands and feet scramble on to it's summit which commanded spectacular views in all directions. Both summits are photographed below.

For the next section I re-traced footsteps down to Ore Gap stopping for a while to help out a couple who hadn't got a map and didn't know where they were or how to find a route back down to Langdale.

I have a recollection from a previous visit here in the dark of there being some aircraft wreckage on the slopes of Bowfell although if memory serves me well this is most likely on the Yeastyrigg side rather than around Ore Gap.

Dropping down through the gap the wind chill became more notoceable and the first glimpse of Angle Tarn showed its surface to be disturbed to the extent that the occasional white top could be seen. It was only at this point that I decided to head on past Sprinkling Tarn & take in Sty Head Tarn also to add a round of Tarns into the day. The climb back up to Esk Hause, although obvious from the map surprised me a little - it was quite impressive to ascend back back up from this side under the gaze of Allen Crags.

Returning to Esk Hause next target was Sprinkling Tarn, on this occasion devoid of campers, in fact by this time (around 14:00hrs) the previously busy fells had become distinctly more sparsely populated. Descending now with impressive views towards the Gables as intervals of sunshine interspersed with slightly more cloudy conditions produced a continuously changing landscape.

Sty Head Tarn, conversely, was well attended by campers with at least seven or eight tents dotted around the edge, one group had a couple of fishing lines set up. 

With one last look behind into this most inspiring of Lake District panoramas I set off alongside Sty Head Gill, under Seathwaite Fell and down to Stockley Bridge where folk were soaking tired feet in the clear mountain water. Not long back to the car and an altogether quieter scene at Seathwaite as the majority of people had clearly had their day in the fells and headed off from the area. For me, back to a busy Blaithwaite to check back in on Kay.

The Gables & Sty Head Tarn From Just Beyond Sprinkling Tarn

Friday, 20 April 2012

Little Calva, Great Calva

With: group of seven enjoying the ODM walking week at Blaithwaite
Weather: cool north easterly breeze but a gradually brightening picture throughout the day, still patchy snow above ca. 2,500'
Where: Lake District, Northern Fells

Dash Falls (White Water Dash)

Each April Rob & Margaret Bianchi (Outdoor Development Ministries, ODM) run a walking week at Blaithwaite House. Last year I gave Rob a hand by taking a group out in the fells & so this year we did the same again.

A group of seven opted to do a day in the Northern Fells - the plan was Little & Great Calva - it was calculated that the combined age of the seven (not including myself of course!!) was well over 400. We set off from Peter House Farm and walked in along the Cumbrian Way, this is always  enjoyable as there is a real feel of walking in to a mountain environment with the bulk of the Skiddaw group to the right and the Pennine like "Cockups" off to the left, ahead is Dash Falls which today were carrying plenty of water after heavy overnight rain. We stopped briefly a couple of times on the way up to the falls to take pictures and look at a few examples of the slatey rock at the foot of Dead Crags.

A slightly longer stop at the head of Dash Falls gave the guys a chance to prepare for the major ascent of the day alongside the boundary fence which provides an excellent handrail feature all the way to both Calva's. There isn't really a path for this ascent and ageing joints felt the strain - I have to say I was incredibly impressed and inspired as folk of 78, 79 and even 84 years of age made relatively light work of this short sharp ascent. The fell levels off considerably as Little Calva is approached and there was a genuine and well deserved sense of achievement as its summit was gained.

The Gang of Seven - Little Calva
Leaving Little Calva summit saw the only adverse weather of the day with the North Easterly wind scouring across this upland section bringing with it a little sleety rain. A couple of folk decided not to make the final ascent of Great Calva, opting for an extended lunch break out of the wind, whilst the rest completed the last ascent, acknowledged the summit cairn, before quickly also finding a sheltered spot out of the wind for some refreshment. The picture below shows Great Calva's summit with a snow flecked "Knott" in the background.

A couple of minutes drop off from the summit enabled us to collect those who did not do the last ascent and then we were able to continue descending as a group across open pathless fell and springy heather in the direction of Dead Beck, the skies steadily brightening. The beck offers another good handrail feature, helpful when visibility is poor, leading directly back to the "motorway" of the Cumbria Way. When we hit the main track we took a right for the walk out which ultimately completed a day of about seven miles and just under 2,000' of ascent

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Night Nav Practise - Mungrisdale Common

This is a post for the geeks - or maybe those preparing for a Mountain Leader assessment!!
The route below is a good test of micro navigation in the dark

Where: Mungrisdale Common, Lake District, Northern Fells
Weather: Tonight it was pouring with rain throughout

The Old Crown In Hesket Newmarket - a Good Meeting Place
and  One of My Favourite Haunts in the Northern Fells

Try this out on a dark wet night:

1. Park the car at 353344 adjacent to the little "link" road

2. Walk up the road to the ford at 349351. Its a good warm up counting paces

3. Locate the left hand (90 degree) corner of the large enclosure wall at 349353

4. Find the path junction at 343353, this one can be a bit difficult, the junction isn't all that easy to see even when you are very close to it.

5. On to the confluence of the two becks at 338349

6. Then locate the disused (run in) mine workings at 344345, be careful around here I don't know whether there are any mine shafts that it might be possible to fall into in the dark

7. Finally try to find the car again! 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path: Another Short Trip From Treffin

With: On my own
Weather: Fine, bright sunny evening with a fresh south westerly breeze
Where: Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, National Trail

Another superlative early evening stroll, once again just around 4 miles accessing the path at Treffin and this time heading in the opposite direction towards Treffin's very pleasant cove & ruined mill before progressing to just short of Porthgain before re-tracing steps. I enjoy walking on my own its a good opportunity to think & reflect, the scenery this evening was both stimulation & distraction - the pictures tell the story.

The Cove At Treffin

Looking Back Up The Coast Towards Treffin
Looking Up The Coast Towards Abercastell

For the last two or three weeks, until this evening, I have struggled with uploading photos to Blogger. Google appear to have downgraded the photo software associated with their old "interface". Tonight after switching to the new interface - no problem, back to all the old functionality for photo uploading, I suppose thats one way Google can "persuade" folk to switch to the new system!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path: Treffin - Abercastell Loop

With: on my own
Weather: overcast, cool with fresh south westerly breeze
Where: Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, National Trail

Being within a stones throw of this National Trail it was an obvious choice for a short early evening walk. There's not much to say really: expansive seascapes; precipitous cliffs; sea caves; wildlife and I never saw a soul on this 4 mile loop!
Straight on to the trail at Treffin then a cliff- top - hugging stroll finally dropping down into the well presented village of Abercastell with its pastel shaded cottages and a group of canoeists enjoying the sheltered calm of the harbour. A short walk back down the road to Treffin completed the loop.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Relaxing This Easter

For the first time in seven years we haven't worked the Easter weekend. Blaithwaite is quite busy with a Church in the Main House, Stables & Barn and a few campers in across the whole weekend. Ferg and Alan are looking after the Centre.
Good Friday was wet: Alan, Mim, Kay & myself marked the day by doing stations of the cross around the Centre.
On Saturday Kay & I set off for a few days with the family staying in Treffin, Pembrokshire. Its a long time since we have spent any time in the south west corner of Wales - the coastline is truly spectacular and at the time of writing we are having a great time here.
After a long drive down we spent this morning (Easter Sunday) on the beach with the kids, Treffin's beach is not a classic tourist beach - its the kind of place for scrambling on rocks; exploring rock pools and caves; throwing stones in the sea and a fantastic time was enjoyed by us all.
Kay & I went with George to the Easter Sunday afternoon service at the village Baptist Chapel - hymns in Welsh & a warm welcome made this a highlight of the day. I'll post separately on a walk this afternoon on the Coastal Path but for now a couple of photos from earlier.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A Thought For Easter - Alan Rainford

Once again its great to have Alan writing on the blog - time for a hot cross bun & a good read!

A Thought for the Easter Journey

We have been exploring a number of mines recently as you will have seen if you follow Mals blog. Why? Mim (my wife asks me is the point?) The reason is so that we can work out the links between each mine so we can take on the Greater Nenthead traverse ( 9-10 kilometres 5 mines although some say more about the 10 hours it takes). This is proving to be very frustrating as we think we have sorted the route only to find that things are not quite as we expected. We start off full of hope think we have it sussed only for our hopes to be dashed as we fail to find the way we wanted. On a number of occasions we have been a stone’s throw away only just not taken the right turn. We look hard at the survey take a compass with us but when down in the mine the route doesn’t seem as we pictured it. So as I said it can be very frustrating and often is.

When we do find the way or find something new or get a better understanding of the mine then it all becomes worthwhile ( well for those of us who like to explore). We are able to piece together all we have seen on the survey any snippets of information from others or on mine web sites and our personal exploration and experience in the mine and our understanding grows.

I think for Jesus' disciples they must have felt so much frustration at times following this man thinking they have what he’s saying sussed. Yet every time they think they have they realise they only have part of the picture. There is so much more for them to learn and experience on their personal journey/exploration of trust and faith in Jesus.

The Easter period has such different emotions: highs and lows, frustration, pride, uncertainty, joy, the list goes on. From being powerless in what was happening to Jesus at his arrest and trial; the extreme pain and loss in his death on the cross to the ultimate joy at his resurrection.

The feelings and emotions that they had are the same as we often feel in life as we journey and explore who we are and where are we going. Whether we believe in God or not we are not immune from all the feelings & emotions of Easter. All of us have, or will experience the pain of a crucifixion experience in our lives, but also the joy of a resurrection experience in our lives.

For me one of the reasons I am a Christian is that I follow a God who through Jesus knows the joys and sorrows of life and as I journey through this life on Earth I have a fellow traveller who knows what I am experiencing and all that I am going through. Does that mean I find life easy, no way. Going back to where I started in the mine illustration, sometimes it’s frustrating on my Christian journey all the answers are not there, but sometimes the light comes on and I can see more clearly the next step - the way forward.

So whatever experience of life we are going through this Easter time I hope that we can know a God who is a fellow traveller who is with in our joys and sorrows our hopes and fears.