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, 31 October 2012

October, the Best Bits

October has been a really mixed month, starting to work with In2venture has been a really good time: plenty of caving; some great training with Glyn Mitchell and a new website & facebook page up & running.

George's first Wainwright was one of those special days too.

Unfortunately though the last couple of weeks have been dominated by Kay's continuing illness and she has spent much of this time back in hospital, where she remains now. Many thanks for everybody's prayers and support.

As such I though it might be a good idea to end the month with a selection of the best bits.

Derwent Water on a Fine Autumn Morning

George's First Wainwright:

Caving around the Ingleborough Area, Alum Pot & Meregill

Friday, 26 October 2012

Caving, Meregill, Yorkshire Dales

With: Kevin

Weather: Dry, Cold NE wind

Where: Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales

Kevin on the Second Pitch - Wet Route

By the standards of this year the last week or so has been dry, the ground is still holding a lot of moisture but the recent high pressure system has at least prevented it from falling from the sky.

Meregill has been on our "to do" list for a long time, situated on the flanks of Ingleborough at the edge of the great scar limestone boundary it is an active cave that can respond quickly to rainfall. As such this gap in a wet year provided an ideal opportunity for a first visit.

The well forecast cold air had began to arrive in the form of a chilly north easterly wind as we changed in the lay by just just up the road from the Hill Inn. The trudge up the main Ingleborough path was familiar in the fading light: past Great Douk; through the limestone pavement; Braithwaite Wife Hole; a right through the gate & past Sunset Hole. From now on though we were in new territory and it was just at the time we needed to switch on our headlamps that we were searching for, what for us at least, was a new hole in the ground. After a short period of ratching we found the Aven entrance and after a bit of squirming around decided that the mere entrance might be a better bet. When we try to tackle a new cave on one of these evening sessions its this kind of stuff (finding the cave; experimenting with unfamiliar routes) that often limits the scope of the initial exploration & once again this was the case this evening. More time spent locating the bolt by the tree at the Mere entrance & finally we were on with rigging the first pitch an abseil of 15m or so saw us at the foot of the waterfall next to the mere. For this first trip we couldn't resist the temptation to explore the mere, tonight it was low and we had to scramble down a good 6m or so through flood debris and settled silt before we reached the dark pool. Back up to the foot of the pitch and a short crawl soon enlarged into a good sized passage which connects the Mere entrance to the Aven entrance that we had earlier rejected as an entry point for the cave.

After this some classic clean washed Yorkshire stream passage followed, meandering steadily down to the second pitch. Kevin rigged this one (I did the surface - "mere entrance") via the lower wetter route. Its a good pitch featuring a deviation, followed by a re-belay from a small chamber where the water lands before its conclusion at the foot of the waterfall. 

Continuing on down further fine stream passage we reached the head of the third pitch, as described above we often run out of time on these evening trips, so a good scope of the options here was as much as we could allow ourselves before beginning the re-tracing of steps and a couple of prusiks up the ropes we had previously rigged saw us back out of the cave at half past nine. It was a brisk walk off the moonlight fell, is it Venus that is very bright in the sky at this time of year? The sky was magical & it would have provided perfect conditions for a night in the fells navigation being easy in almost "day-like" conditions. Back at the car at three minutes to ten, we just made our call-in time! The air temperature was by now just 4-5 decC.

A great evening's caving - we'll now get back when there is more time & do more!

A Murky Scene in the Connecting |Passage Between the Mere & Aven Entrances

Friday, 19 October 2012

Scrambling. Nitting Haws

With: Glyn Mitchell

Weather: A mild showery autumn day, when the sun shone it was very pleasant

Where: Borrowdale, Lake District

Derwent Water from Kettlewell - Looking Good

Days out with Glyn (who is In2venture's Technical Advisor for all things mountains) are always a highlight - his love of the mountain environment is infectious; his coaching excellent and company first class! Yesterday morning we met at Kettlewell on Derwent Water, the aim of the day was to progress my personal rope work & leadership on steep ground skills to something a little higher than the standard needed at the Mountain Leader award. 

Given the unsettled weather forecast we switched our venue from the planned Pinnacle Ridge to Nitting Haws. The scrambling at Nitting Haws is described in several publications including:

Scrambles in the Lake District Volume 2: Northern Lakes

50 Best Scrambles in the Lake District 50 Best Scrambles in the Lake District

Depending on which book and which edition the scramble is graded from 1* through 2 to 2*

After leaving a car at Kettlewell we drove on to Grange, a place I have often driven past but never stopped at before, which is unfortunate and will now change, as it is well worth a visit. We got ready, full waterproofs from the outset and headed off along the road following the sign to Hollows Farm. Through the camping field beyond the Yurts is a stile on to rough fell, A short distance saw us amongst the rocky slabs & outcrops that mark the beginning of the scrambling. Harnesses, & helmets on; rope & metal work sorted - time to start.

This is not really the place to describe the route of the scramble, it is well covered in the two books referred to above, save to say that after a series of rocky slabs and steps the main event is the section shown in the picture above where the route proceeds around the holly trees just to the left of centre of the photograph,

We spent the morning looking at kit; considering movement i.e. where to put your feet; spotting; verbal coaching; confidence roping; moving together on the rope; selection of belays; body belays; direct belays; use of slings; nuts; knots; ascent; descent; traversing & how to keep it all slick!! A good few hours passed in no time and we finally made off the buttress when a longer period of rain set in.

All good - thoroughly enjoyable!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Experiment on a Sunny Autumn Afternoon Round Ullswater

It was a beautiful sunny day in Cumbria yesterday so with no real plans Kay & I got out for a drive  in the Ullswater area. 
Now, the experimental bit is that I have recently got a new phone (HTC OneX) and thought it might be a good idea to check out its camera (most of the photography on this blog has been done with a Fuji Finepix S2000HD). 
We visited the eastern side of the lake (Hallin Fell, Howtown, Martindale and its 16th Century Church). There are a few photos below taken from the phone & uploaded to the blog.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Alum Pot

With: Kevin, Clare & Ferg

Weather: Fine & Dry

Where: Borrins Moor, Yorkshire Dales

The recent dry spell (which started the day after we last went caving!) continues, however, I have to say it was wetter in Alum Pot than we anticipated.

Our aim for the evening was simply to get in some rigging / SRT practise in order to prepare for harder trips planned later this winter. A quick(ish?) change in Alum Pot lane & a stomp up to Diccan entrance soon saw us underground. We'd packed rope sufficient to "bottom" Alum Pot, however, it was apparent from pretty much the outset that this might be a little ambitious in the time available this evening.

A flat out crawl through Diccan entrance saw us quickly at "the slot" where bags were transferred from person-person ahead of the short roped climb down to the head of  "Dollytubs Pitch". We temporarily divided at this point Kev & Ferg going down the direct route, whilst Clare & myself went down via the small window; on to the ledge; a short traverse & then on to the bottom of the pitch. Given that there was little chance of us getting to the bottom these pitches provided a good opportunity to play around with rigging and knots. 
Re-united at the window into Alum Pot itself we rigged the "Greasy Slab" - it was wet at this point as more water than we had imagined was still draining off the land.

Picture to the left is Kevin descending the Greasy Slab.

Its a pity we got to this point in the cave as it was going dark outside as I've been keen for some time to get photos with the back lit Pot as a background ( see below for the best I could manage tonight).

We rigged the next traverse as well so as to be able to get a look down into the real depth of Alum Pot before deciding that in order to make our call in time we'd better start the ascent. Once back up the Greasy Slab we divided again - this time Ferg & myself pairing up for one ascent whilst the others took the alternative prusik.. 

Re-tracing our steps it wasn't long before we surfaced into a fine clear & starry night.

Best view I could get looking up & out of Alum Pot

Ferg & Clare above the Greasy Slab

Friday, 5 October 2012

Caving: Plenty of water in Upper & Lower Long Churns

With: Ferg, Clare & Kevin

Weather: Following a very wet spell, what was forecast to be a a largely dry day turned out wetter than expected!

Where: Yorkshire Dales National Park

The In2venture staff winter caving programme saw its second outing yesterday afternoon, the day turned out to be wetter than forecast which after a very wet spell produced some very sporting conditions in Upper & Lower Long Churn caves. We passed through the system from Doctors Bannisters Handbasin - Diccan exit taking every opportunity to practise basic rope work etc.

Limestone Pavement

Kevin at Dr Bannisters

Kevin & Clare & Plenty of Water

Wet Ferg!

More photos on facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mals-Blog-Canoes-Mountains-Caves/192537504137037