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, 23 February 2013

Bleak On Borrins Moor

Bleak, Baltic, Bone Numbingly Cold. Just a few of the descriptors applied to yesterdays excursion to the Yorkshire Dales.

Kevin is preparing for a Level 1 Cave personal skills assessment so we spent a few hours on Borrins Moor on the flanks of Ingleborough re-visiting: Borrins Moor Cave; Upper & Lower Long Churns and Wilson's Cave. Water levels were extremely low after a dry week and constantly low temperatures.

In addition, for the first time for me, we took a look at Selside Cave. It was, in the main, low & muddy. No plans to go back there in a hurry!

Exit Selside Cave - Photo Clare Mackey

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Coledale Horseshoe

With: Glynn Mitchell

Weather: Cold; low cloud clearing as the day progressed; patchy snow at high level

Where: Lake District

Grisedale Pike from Oughterside
Out with Glynn Mitchell today - what a great day we had around Coledale. It was somewhat in contrast to the day before: T-shirts were never an option as the earlier parts of the day were spent in low cloud and even when the sun did appear later in the day it remained bitingly cold.

We left Braithwaite village and headed up the Whinlatter road taking the footpath out of the first car park. Its a long steady pull up Grisedale Pike (I've not done this for years) we did the steepest section, on approach to the summit in low cloud, there were just a few isolated pockets of snow at this height.

Dropping off the summit we followed the edge around via Hobcarton Crags to Hopegill Head, which I don't think I've done before (need to check the lists). Since a "hardcore" day was in order we opted not to go round Sand Hill but rather go over it before stopping in Coledale Hause itself for lunch. As is often the case the wind howled through the Hause, however, just a few metres to the west side we were able to sit in complete calm. At this point the low cloud that shrouded us since the approach to Grisedale Pike began to slowly break & clear, a process which continued for the rest of the day.

From the Hause we continued along the pleasant hanging valley to the west of Eel Crag, at the head of the gill we turned sharply to the east & began to climb - our ascent towards the day's high point of Crag Hill (photo below)

Our next objective was Sail from where we descended along the relatively new handy work of the LDNP's path repair team. I have to say that the the old erosion scars in this area did appear far better on the eye than they did the last time I was here a couple of years ago.

We completed our descent by skirting around the Stoneycroft Gill side of Oughterside before cutting through at Stile End and enjoying a very gradual descent above Barrow Gill and back into Braithwaite. 

Approx Distance:

9 miles

Approx Height Gain:


More of the days photos on Flickr

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

High Street via Hayeswater Gill & Sulphury Gill

With: Alan Rainford

Weather: Spectacular!

Where: Patterdale, Lake District 

Sunbathers on Thornthwaite Crag
Alan & I set off today with the objective of checking out possible Gill Scrambles is Hayeswater Gill & Sulphury Gill, we parked at Hartsop and headed up the "Water" road on the North side of the valley. The scrambles in the above gills are described in the trusty:

Scrambles in the Lake District (North) Cicerone guide.

Both scrambles appear to offer great potential, however, we were only able to engage hands with rock very infrequently today as, firstly, there was a significant quantity of water in Hayeswater Gill (likely due to continuing snow melt) and, secondly, the bulk of the rock in both gills was glazed in a thin veneer of very slick ice making each foot placement really quite precarious. As such the majority of our assessment was from the bank of the gills as we ascended initially in shadow but later in glorious sunshine. From a working with groups perspective Sulphury Gill (below) looked very interesting as the opportunity to "free scramble" with protection from spotters appeared to offer real potential.

From the head of the gill we headed on under bright blue skies stopping for lunch at the foot of The Knott.

Rather than by-passing on the path - we then took a direct route across a snow field to take in the Knott's summit before continuing on over a mixture of snow and ice to the summit of High Street, the scene was truly spectacular.

Making good speed now we followed the edge of the High Street Ridge checking out a possible line of descent from the head of Hayeswater Gill which we reckoned would work well if the full horse shoe was not to be attempted. However, we decided to stay high and enjoy the superlative conditions heading for Thornthwaite Crag where the scene was almost one of "al fresco" living as people relaxed in the sun.

Our route of descent was via Gray Crag which once again offered impressive views in all directions, the picture below is looking back across to the High Street ridge that we had earlier traversed.

The descent off the end of Gray Crag was steep and at times a little awkward across some of the unavoidable patches of hard frozen snow. However, it offered a pretty direct route back on to the broad paths of the valley for a straightforward return to Hartsop.

Distance: approx 7 miles
Height Gain: 2,650'

There are a full set of today's photos on my Flickr site

Monday, 18 February 2013

Group Shelters

I carry a group shelter almost everywhere I go in the outdoors whether for work or leisure: its in my ruck sack when in the mountains; the emergency bag when caving and is standard group kit when canoeing. 

However, if you are anything like me you will very rarely take the shelter out of its bag & use it! Maybe its because if you've been around for a while you still call it an "emergency shelter" (?) - I reckon I'm guilty of this.

Last week when out with my family on a cold, windy & wet day in North Wales I got one of my under used group shelters out & we ate lunch in it. Check out a very small person's face at the end of the 15 second video to tell you what she thought of the idea of eating her lunch protected from the elements!!

View Here

Thanks to Martin for the clip

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Moel Eilio

With: Nic, Martin, Becky, Nige, George & Eliza

Weather: Mild; Light Winds; Cloud lifting and dropping around the summits throughout the day

Where: Snowdonia

The weather on Friday was somewhat improved on the day before & we were joined by Becky & Nige. Its a shame Jo, Billy & Evelyn couldn't be with us to make it a "full set". The day started in Pete's Eats for breakfast - a good start!

The plan was to take a tour of the hills to the south of Llaneris with Moel Eilio our main target. From Pete's Eats it was a short walk along the still flood damaged main street before taking a right on the road towards the Youth Hostel. As we left the village the road became a track and the track ultimately a footpath as we headed up Maesgwm. At Bwlch Maesgwm we struck up the grassy hill, a steep ascent for a five year old, to the summit of Foel Goch.

Looking Back From Bwlch Maesgwm

From Foel Goch we followed the undulations across Foel Gron with the impressive Cwm Cesig to our right. A brief lunch stop on the ridge provided the fuel necessary for a young man to make his summit assault on Moel Eillio. The cloud began to lift at this point providing us with an improving lighter & brighter outlook for the remainder of the day. Moel Eilio summit was our high point.

Our descent back towards Llanberis afforded some of the best views of the day.

There are a few more photos on Flickr

Two Days In Snowdonia

Snowdonia is a place where, as a family, we have spent much time over the years: big days in the Glyders & around Snowdon; camping for weeks on end working on CYFA-Pathfinder camps at Llyn Gwynant; canoeing & kayaking; bouldering; great food in Pete's Eats; rain (!); trips to Llandudno; Castles - I love the place!

Nic, Martin & the kids took a cottage in Llanberis for half term and I went down mid-week to spend a couple of days with them.

On Thursday, in pretty awful weather, we took a walk in the Clogwyn Maldy area. I was impressed with its wild feel despite man's intervention. I've posted a few photos below & on Flickr.

On Friday, Becky & Nige joined us and we took a longer walk in much better conditions around the hills to the south of Llanberis - I'll write this one up separately.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Flickr Photostream

 I've just added a new "gadget" to the site, namely a Flickr photo stream..

It's in the right hand tool bar in the "Find Me Also At" section.

So far I've just uploaded sets of photos from last week & a couple of trial sets from Beinn Eighe taken in September 2011. However, from now on I'll upload more extensive photo sets from each individual trip.

If you would like to use any of the published photos please contact me

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A Busy Week At The Office

To be honest I'm still trying to keep myself as busy as possible at the moment & the last few days have been a welcome busy spell with much time spent with family & friends (I'm fortunate to be able to spend my working life amongst good friends)


Across in Darlington today with the COAC In2venture guys.

Great to see John Pear back at Rock Antics in the evening!!


Tuesday didn't really go according to plan! The visit to Inglesport saw me pick up a new caving lamp but we had to retreat from High Birkwith in heavy snow for fear of getting the vehicles stuck. Nevertheless, a great opportunity for extended conversation with Paul Rich & Kevin rescued a couple of fell walkers who were lost in the blizzard.


Out in the Fells in the morning - what a privelige to be out on a day like this with my daughter!
Lunch was in the car before a drive back across to the North East again to meet & spend a couple of days with good friends Rob & Margaret Bianchi of Outdoor Develoment Ministries. I was to spend Wednesday evening; all day Thursday & Friday with Rob & Margaret. Great hospitality & company accompanied by much in depth discussion about Outdoor Ministry & life in general.


Rob & I spent a day on the Northumberland coast - its a special place.

Big skies; quiet beaches; stunning seascapes and lots of quality conversation.

I spent the evening back in Darlington at a COAC In2venture staff meeting again good fellowship, humour and lively debate on activity programming for the coming year.


On Friday we met up with Ian Kent for a day on Hedgehope Hill in the Cheviots. I don't often get across to this area but it was superb under a mantle of snow and bright skies. 

Similarly I don't often (never?) go out in the hills with a Methodist & Anglican minister at the same time - walking with a higher power(s)!!

It was a great day once again characterised by lots of discussion regarding outdoor ministry in an inspiring environment. There are one or two more photos from Friday below.
After getting back to Rob & Margaret's I took a long drive down to London for the weekend to spend some time with my middle daughter & her family, more time well spent.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Revealed: February Competition

Thanks to everyone who had a go at the February competition! As well as the comments on this site there was a fair amount of off-line "chatter" via Twitter etc.

Brendan & Billy both identified all three photos - good effort guys!

Dale Head summit was readily recognised.

Esk Pike proved to be a little trickier. This photo was take from the flanks of Bowfell looking back across Ore Gap

Sty Head Tarn proved to be the problem.
I guess a lot of Lakeland tarns look quite similar.
This photo was taken just after passing Sprinkling Tarn - walking towards Great Gable

I'll post another one of these in a few weeks time - thanks again for having a go.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Competition Time - February

Here we go, the first competition of the year - I reckon this one is pretty easy. If you have some ideas post them as a comment & I'll give it a few days before posting the answer.

Name the summit, mountain & tarn:

Prize - the satisfaction of knowing you were right!!