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

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Looking Back At 2013

Well it's that time of year again.......
From a personal perspective I've never known a year quite like it, much that was in life is no more and there's pain & grief. However, this has been tempered by new beginnings which have provided cause for joy & optimism.
Once again this year's review will simply take the form of a collection of photographs from each month of 2013.
Thanks for reading and in 2014, watch this space...................
But for now, wishing you all the Peace & Joy that this special season brings

After a day on Raise in full winter conditions with the In2venture guys - caught this superb view of Blencathra from Stannah

Other worldly on High Street - so many good photos from this day

Three day trip to Snowdonia with Alan Rainford, stayed at Pete's Eats - this was our first visit to Wrysgan Slate Mine

View from a boat - what a superb day out on Ullswater

Highest I've ever been on my own two feet, Prada Llana & Alto del Chorillo in Spain's Las Alpajurras

Fantastic expedition with the In2venture Community - Loch Morar

Summer '13 was excellent. Loads of work with school groups, this is the In2venture instruction team from the summer on High Pike, North Lakes

Wrysgan for real, with a group for the first time. Really enjoyed 2 weeks working out of Llyn Gwynant campsite

Cloud inversion on Grassmoor

Stunning weather at our local climbing crag - Headend Quarry, North Cumbria

We went on holiday to Torridon for the last few days in October, early November. This is dawn over Loch Torridon. There were stacks of good photos from this trip, we also had three days in Cwmorthin slate mine but this dawn image has precluded putting any of them in the review

Finished the year out with some canoe coaching, locally, on Derwent Water

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Wet Morning In Hause Gill With In2enture

Saturday was a wet & windy day in the Lake District. We'd planned to do Crinkle Crags via Issac Gill with the In2venture Community - but postponed in favour of the more sheltered Hause Gill.

Below are a picture & link to a YouTube video clip.

December Sunshine At Headend Quarry

Still very much playing catch up with posts at the moment........................

Last Wednesday saw the winter climbing project progress further with another visit to our local venue - Headend Quarry.

The weather was amazing, 13 degC and bright sunshine made it feel like a Spring evening.

Our climbing is beginning to show signs of improvement with everything climbed on this visit having a letter "S" in the grade. For me this trip included lead climbs on: Diogenes (S); Devil's Kneecap (HS) & Headend Chimney (MS).

The end of day view, south, into the Northern Fells was special (see last photo)

Some Open Canoeing

In recent years I've been fortunate enough to be the recipient of some excellent training from Glyn Mitchell both in the mountains and more recently in the area of rock climbing. As such it was a real privilege to reciprocate with some time open canoeing last  Monday out on Derwent Water, all being well we will continue on moving water later this coming week.

The weather started off treating us very kindly with mild, overcast and still conditions as we paddled out with several stops to practise forward paddling; backward paddling; sideways movement & turning. There was much conversation - it was a thoroughly enjoyable morning that saw us make it from Kettlewell to one of the islands for lunch.

The return journey was a little more interesting, as typically, the wind got up making it necessary for us to construct a katamaran to negotiate our way through the white topped waves in order to return to our starting point. More of this to come!


Thursday, 5 December 2013

North Cumbria Crags

This year's winter project is the improvement of personal climbing skills. To this end after a couple of excellent days training with Glyn Mitchell where we visited Kendall Climbing Wall; Hutton Roof & Scratchmere Crags (near Penrith) - Graham Simpson & myself have been persevering with the up-skilling programme on nearby crags in Northern Cumbria. The current standard is very much V Diff - Severe & the cold weather is making Spring & Summer evenings look very attractive but some time off yet.

We've made a couple of visits to Headend Quarry, very much the local crag & climbed a good variety of routes here: Blah (S); Snail Wall (S); Piggy Malone (HS); Novice Route (V Diff); Birds Nest (D); Bilberry (V Diff) to name a few.

Graham after seconding Snail Wall at Headend Quarry

This week we made a visit to Seat Quarry just outside of Caldbeck, like Headend its an old limestone quarry. The guidebook describes the venue as being "flakey" which is fair - its horrible. The day we visited was fine & dry with bright blue skies but the temperatures were Baltic at just 3 degrees in a brisk North Westerly wind.
We had a go at Seat Arete (S) & Faulds (S) before retiring.
The rock here does, however, bite back - see bottom photo!
Seat Quarry

Graham on Seat Arete


Rock That Bites


Monday, 18 November 2013

At Work

There aren't that many photos of "my bad self" on these pages but after Saturday's Family Ghyll Scramble I posted this series on Twitter. Its not a bad life........

Not too early a start to the working day

Busy, busy....


Brew Time

Back to it


Its a hard life


Home time.....


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Ghyll Scrambling

Apologies, its a period of quite short posts at the moment (perhaps some prefer it that way?!).

We spent Saturday working for In2venture on a family Ghyll Scramble in Sour Milk Ghyll, Borrowdale. The weather was kind for the time of year & water levels were low. It was a really enjoyable time for those involved with challenges met & fears conquered!

Last Week's Climbing

Three days of last week were spent on a climbing course, its an area of outdoor activity that I've not really paid a lot of attention to over the years so this was a first formal, structured look at this area. So training now complete, there'll be an investment in a bit more new kit and a winter project will now ensue aimed at up-skilling towards assessment next Spring.

We spent a few hours at the Kendal Climbing Wall (no pictures from here); a day at Hutton Roof (it was Baltic) and a really interesting  day at Scratchmere - just outside of Penrith. Thanks to Glyn Mitchell for an excellent few days!

Photographs From Hutton Roof

Saturday, 9 November 2013


We've been spending quite a bit of time this year developing activity options in the North Wales area. Last week saw a three day visit with Alan Rainford & Clare Mackey to familiarise ourselves with the vast Cwmorthin Slate Mine near Tanygrisiau.

Day one started at the Lakeside Cafe with a meet up with our good friend Dave Baines for an initial guided look through the mine, it was a massive help to wander around with Dave. The ground we covered would have taken days to sort out by ourselves. Entering the mine at lake level we headed off down the incline plane to begin the vertical descent through the system.

An initial traverse on the right followed by crossing over the incline plane leads to the head of the first pitch - a straightforward abseil that we rigged for pull through. The pitch lands at the foot of the "stairway to heaven"

From here its possible to re-access the incline plane or, as a better alternative, head through to the catwalk traverses & use the excellent infra-structure provided by "Go Below" to box around the huge void to gain a second abseil.

Once again we rigged the pitch for abseil and descended another floor heading for the bridge & back out on to the incline plane.

Descending the incline plane another level allows access to the final pitch, which is on the right hand side and is the biggest of the three at a full 20m,

A further pull-through abseil saw us land once again able to access further excellent infra-structure in the form of the "pipes" a nice walk way with chains for the hands which allows a section of deeper water to be crossed dry-shod. Thanks again to "Go Below"

This is D/E floor where a compressed air line, on the ground now, can be followed via two side-steps to the left before ascending towards to the ceiling. At this point a slight step to the right and short ascent allows "Level French" to be gained.

We followed Level French to a sharp right hand bend before working our way right again to vast chambers and the head of the zig zag steps which were descended to G Floor & Graf Spee House. A little "ratching" around G floor was followed by a return to the house & exit via the back of the chamber & ultimately the ascent of an incline plane back on to D/E floor & a walk along past the water wheel; compressor house and then the boundary with Oakley Mine. We then back-tracked until the passage just after the compressor to emerge in a chamber above Graf Spee House from where we headed back to the foot of the incline plane. It was a hard slog back up - especially carrying a good 100m of rope & tackle so we headed off at the up turned cart to locate the "Stairway to Heaven" in order to complete our ascent back to Lake Level.

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
We returned to the mine on Thursday and repeated the "rope free" section of the above trip & also explored the area of the Old Vein incline plane & then again on Friday to repeat the vertical trip above.
All in all a very productive 3 days in the biggest mine system I have visited and undoubtedly the best vertical mine exploration I have experienced.  Big thanks to Dave Baines for all his help.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A Few Days In Torridon

Its been a pretty intense passage of time since returning from a working holiday in Snowdonia at the end of August so we were well ready for a few days in wild Torridon over the half term holiday last week.

We stayed for 5 days at the absolutely excellent B&B facility "The Loft" at Inveralligin. The accommodation, which is owned by the very hospitable Glyn & Pete, is finished to an excellent standard and offers B&B with a slight difference! If you are heading in this direction I couldn't recommend it highly enough!

The journey up was long (we did however divert very much off-route to Hawick to visit friends on the way) so it was a late arrival on a wet Sunday evening.

Waking on Monday morning gave a first impression of just what an excellent location this is. Inveralligin is about 4 miles west of Torridon and it was a pleasant walk there and back through The Torridon House estate after a late start to the day. The cafe at Torridon provided a good coffee & cake stop in the middle!

 The Loft - Inveralligin

Diverse Views Between Inveralligin & Torridon

Tuesday was planned (although it was always more a hope than reality given the forecast for the week) as a Benn Alligin mountain day. Unfortunately the forecasters were very much correct and low cloud; frequent torrential showers; hail & the wind blowing a hoolie led us to decide to head for the lower Sgorr a Chadail (in the photos above). We parked at the Benn Alligin car park just outside Inveralligin & headed up the path towards Coire Mhic Nobuil. Breaking off the path just before the footbridge lead to a really good day out - no paths (nav by features); plenty of scrambling & between showers some excellent views. I'd never heard of this hill but if it was in the lake District it would be very popular!

Sgorr a Chadail

Wednesday, got off to a good start with the most incredible dawn over Loch Torridon.
We spent the day which initially turned out a bit better than forecast with a visit to Gairloch.

Thursday - long drive back home & the start of a tour of Northern England!