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

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Last Few Days

Apologies for the lack of regular posts just lately its been another of those very difficult passages of time. Kay hasn't been very well and is in the hospice at the moment, we are hoping & praying she'll be out in a few days when they get symptoms under control. Thanks to all for the huge support you have offered throughout this illness and especially of late.

Getting out & about and doing "stuff" in the outdoors seems almost trivial at the moment. However, it does have (for me at least) a real therapeutic benefit, its good to do the things that seem "normal" and to share those experiences with friends.

The recent persistent rain hasn't helped much with planned trips to the fells & caves having to be cancelled in favour of indoor activities and mine exploration. There are a couple of paragraphs & pictures below:

Indoor SRT / Ladder & Lifeline Training

Alan Rainford and myself spent an evening in the Barn at Blaithwaite House doing a bit of training on: rigging for SRT; SRT progression; SRT rescues and ladder & lifeline rescues.

Mine Exploration

We've visited Nenthead twice both on particularly wet days, Alan, Paul Rich & myself did a "tour" of Smallcleugh followed by a pull-through to exit via Prouds Sump and Rampgill level.

A visit to Nentsberry Haggs was a first for all of us (again Alan, Paul & myself)

The weather was foul - we made just an initial trip into the mine via the portal on the Nenthead to Alston road. Folk must have worked pretty hard to clear a way through not long after the entrance.

We spent about 2 hours underground: the water was deep (chest level in places); cold and the mine looked pretty fragile in one or two places (several collapses in the shale). Our next visit will likely be from the Brownley Hills end.

Portal - I did say it was wet

Bunkhouses looking good

Apologies for the camera shake it was freezing (and deeper in parts)

The Distant Alluring Light

Monday, 19 November 2012


I've just posted an article for In2venture on their website click here to read it and take a look at their Facebook page to view the full photo album.

There are a few extra photos taken by Adrian Wintle that I've "borrowed" with his permission (!) posted on my own Facebook Page (link in right hand tool bar)

I've never really written a lot about In2venture on this blog, just referring to the organisation in passing from time to time so thought it might be a good opportunity this week to rectify this. My personal involvement with the charity goes back to 1993, a lot has happened since then!

In2venture is a Christian charity (Registered Number 518891) and exists today as a Christian Community Committed to the Exploration of Faith Through Outdoor Activity. 

In 1983 the vicar of West Pelton, Rob Bianchi, set up the West Pelton Activity Centre as a non residential centre for activities as a means of reaching young people both locally and across the North of England. The centre existed as an office and store for outdoor equipment, with activities taking place wherever suitable. Many of the young people were either unemployed or social service referrals, which meant that the Centre also ran probation courses. 1987 saw the formation of the West Pelton Centre charity.The work mainly relied on volunteer support.

In 1989 the work had grown to such an extent that Church Army Captain Alan Rainford joined the Centre as assistant manager. From this point a training course in outdoor activities was started and schools also started using the Centre. During this period various outdoor activity clubs were started.

In 1995 Rob left and Alan took over the running of the Centre. Also that year the Centre started to run activities for the Barnabas Trust centre Whithaugh Park, in the Scottish Borders. This work developed and in 1997 Whithaugh Park became the main operating base.

Due to the need for an Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) license, various groups started to affiliate to the centre during this time. Cockerton Outdoor Activity Club (COAC) started at this time, later to become a full project running under the centre in 2002. 

In 2001, Church Army Captain Paul Little joined the centre to support Alan as the youth worker at Whithaugh Park. After joining Paul developed an underground tunnel system called the Walk of Life at the Park. This gave us the opportunity to discuss various topics of faith, such as creation, choices, valuing people, and life after death.

In 2002 the name West Pelton Centre was officially changed to In2venture to signify the growing scope the work that the charity was undertaking; COAC became COAC In2venture in 2003. Paul Little started making links throughout the Scottish Borders and beyond, and in February 2003 the Grafted Project started to form. 

From the end of September 2005 the activity contract at Whithaugh Park came to an end, with Barnabas moving in the Barnabas Adventure team to run the residential activities. Alan’s role changed from being activities manager at Whithaugh Park to general In2venture manager, and the office moved into Newcastleton itself.

From April 2005 In2venture began to offer and run activity programmes at Blaithwaite House which is situated just to the north of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. This saw a further period of great change within the organisation as technically the Centre began a transition from a largely water based organisation (principle skill set being in Canoeing & Kayaking) to a more land based focus, with new skills developing in Mountaineering, Cave & Mine Exploration. Seven years on this transition is well on the way to completion. 

Furthermore, during this time In2venture for the first time in its history took on the management of a residential centre (Blaithwaite House) and 2009 saw the formation of In2venture Community Interest Company to manage the tenancy at Blaithwaite.

In2venture today sees the principle focus of its mission as:

- Schools Ministry (both residential & non-residential)
- Youth Ministry with local groups in North East England and Cumbria
- The support and development of a Christian Community Committed to the Exploration of Faith Through Outdoor Activity.

There are two In2venture "satellite" groups: COAC In2venture, based in Darlington, County Durham & FOG In2venture based just outside York.

To keep up to date with In2venture visit their website at www.in2v.org 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Ingleborough Hall & Alum Pot

Ingleborough Hall
Yesterday was 5 year revalidation day for underground qualifications. I was one of eight folk attending the workshop at Ingleborough Hall in Clapham. It was ran by Tony Flanagan & Chris Jackson

The morning focussed mainly on: 

- flooding & a review of recent incidents

- current access issues

- radon gas

An afternoon practical session took place in two groups of four in Alum Pot, the weather was fine & dry with clear blue skies, however, as seems to have been the case for some time now conditions were quite damp underground. We worked on the Dolly Tubs pitch looking at best practise in pitch head rigging (well tensioned; high traverse lines; knots; and belaying).Particular emphasis was given to the use of Petzt Traxion devices especially how to lower a climber when using these pulley-jammer systems. We emerged from the cave to a cold, dark showery evening

It was time well spent to take a step back for a day & look at some of the key issues involved in leading groups in a vertical environment underground - a good day.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Off-Piste: High Spy in the Snow

With: Alan, Graham, Ferg & Becky

Weather: Bright & sunny with occasional snow showers; good visibility; lying snow above 400m

Where: Borrowdale

High Spy Summit

Yesterday was one of those days where we ended up doing something quite different than planned which subsequently turned into one of those gems the outdoors frequently turns up. I won't go into the details of what we planned and why it didn't happen but it became effectively an impromptu In2venture staff day out.

We started out from Grange and did the scramble at Nitting Haws that Glyn Mitchell & myself did the other week.This is not really an area I would automatically associate with a top day in the mountains but the scramble got us off to a good start: the lower slabs and rock outcrops are straightforward & avoidable if that is your wish. Traversing adjacent to the holly tree gets more interesting and on the day as the rock was quite greasy in places we continued the traverse to the far end of the pitch where the scrambling remains exposed but the consequences of a slip are much less serious. Even after the main event there is still further optional scrambling to be enjoyed.

Some Additional Scrambling

From the top of this last outcrop we crossed the scree slope to our south and followed the line of the gill - an off piste route, "the beaten path is for beaten men!! "

The gill runs out in and around some crags & we continued through ankle deep snow across numerous false tops to the summit ridge. Conditions on approach were excellent with deep drifting powder snow which was being picked up and swirled around in the cold wind. The views north across Derwent Water towards Skiddaw & Blencathra were excellent:

There weren't too many folk about at the popular cairn of High Spy but after the bright sunshine of the scramble and lower slopes we were privileged to enjoy an early taste of winter:

To descend we followed the summit ridge north in the direction of Maiden Moor again dropping off to the east side of the ridge in the general area of the footpath leading back down to Derwent Water. As in ascent we did not follow the path instead taking a line down initially through the snow & then through the scree alongside the gill.

The day was relatively short at 6km & 600m of ascent, however, the quality was excellent.

I carried the rope & packed on top of the usual camera so all todays photography is via the HTC One X phone as discussed in a previous post.