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, 30 March 2013


Today has been a day with a difference.

I drove down to Windermere this morning to meet up with my youngest brother; sister-in-law; niece & nephew. It was a busy Easter Saturday and after coffee my nephew & I headed off to Little Langdale, more coffee in the Three Shires and then off to Cathedral Quarry.

This was a new experience for both of us: a short walk down the road; over the bridge and a climb up the hill into the snow brought us to the entrance of the slate quarry. Its only a few metres down the tunnel before the impressive sight of the 40' high Cathedral Cavern is encountered.

We had a good ratch around the whole site and reckon we exhausted all the underground options. The place was well worth the visit.

We adjourned from Little Langdale to Troutbeck and the Mortal Man Inn  where we re-grouped for lunch. Another new spot & again well worth the visit!

The drive home via the Kirkstone Pass revealed yet more superlative views of Lakeland in this winter of winters. (There are a few more photos on Flickr).

The evening was spent at Carlisle Cathedral with Alan Rainford - we went to the Easter Eve service - a final dramatic pause just before the end of Holy Week. There was: dark; light; baptism; confirmation - all good!

Happy Easter


Monday, 25 March 2013

North Wales Underground

There have been several references to North Wales on these pages over the past couple of years, I really like the place!!

However, until last week's visit with Alan Rainford I'd never ventured underground in the area. A busy few days of research and some invaluable help from our good friend Dave Baines led to a "to do" list of: Wrysgan Slate Mine; Pant-y-Wrach Copper Mine & Bwlch-y-Plwm Lead Mine - a cluster of venues to the south/east of Bedgellert.

Alan Rainford Looking Down The Incline Plane On Craig-y-Wrysgan

An early start from Sea View on Thursday morning saw us parked up & eating lunch in Tan-y-Grisiau with plenty of time for a good look around Wrysgan Slate Mine. However, the best laid plans & all that led to us spending ages looking for the mine entrance (basically we parked in the wrong place & the grid reference we had for the mine entrance was incorrect). However, we were offered some very kind help from Tegid who lived in the area & very much went the extra mile to ensure we had a good visit - big thanks Tegid if you read this!!

Eventually we arrived at the entrance to number 1 floor of the mine & ventured into what can only be described as a vast underground environment.

Our mine tour was effectively an internal ascent of Craig-y-Wrysgan with much marvelling at the dimensions of this type of mining technology which is very different to our usual experiences in the North Pennines and Lake District.

A final scramble saw us emerge to snow as we exited number 6 floor!

It was a straightforward walk back down the mountain via a look at the incredible incline plane (see photo above). Its hard to imagine that such an engineering undertaking might ever be embarked upon in the British mountains again. A drive back to Llanberis & an evening at Pete's Eats bunkhouse concluded the first day.

Breakfast at Pete's and a concerned eye on the weather resulted in a later start but in the end we decided to have a go at getting to Llanfrothen, our next destination, all fears were unfounded and it was no more than a wet drive. Today's metal ore mines were much more familiar territory in terms of their technology. Pant-y-Wrach copper mine was a gem, short but very enjoyable. Just up the road, Bwlch-y-Plwm lead mine was altogether more extensive - we explored three of the five levels (Deep Adit; Roman Level and number 3 level). There are a few photos below:



There are a few more photos on flickr

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Messing About In Boats

Just posted a little GoPro movie footage of the open canoe workshop at Barnard Castle on Sunday afternoon. "Messing About In Boats":

Monday, 18 March 2013

Twenty Four Hours

Its been a strange winter with some excellent weather conditions and a lot of local variation and contrast. The last twenty four hours have illustrated this well.

Yesterday afternoon I was out on the River Tees at Barnard Castle canoeing with new friends and old. It was cool; dry; overcast but snow free. The river level was perfect for practising moving water skills.

Today was very much in contrast, the snow returned to produce the most wintry day I've been out on this year. Dave Magnall and I spent a few hours in a Northern Fells white out, a good day!

It was this time last year that Paul Rich & I saw weather like this in the Northern Fells:

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Back on Blencathra

With: On My Own

Weather: Cold, Bright & Sunny; Light Northerly Wind

Where: Blencathra, North Lakes

If Blencathra was 153' higher (taking it over the 3,000' mark) I think it would win a poll of the most popular mountain in the Lake District. Even without the 3'000 "footer" accolade it must rate close to the top of the list for many folk. I've been on Blencathra just twice during this excellent winter and both days have been under bright blue skies with snow & ice underfoot.

I got up early yesterday morning & did a few jobs but looking at the weather outside - just had to get out!
Leaving the house just after 11:00 saw me at the car park in Threlkeld & walking before noon. For some reason (?) I thought an off-piste ascent via Doddick Gill might be a good idea.

Doddick Gill itself is a gem & offers real solitude, however, there isn't really a good route from the gill on to the ridge of Doddick Fell and my ascending traverse was little more than a "bush-whack" through heather briefly interrupted by the odd scree run. The environment, though, was very pleasant (photo below).

The ridge of Doddick Fell was a fine approach, which I don't recall having done before, although it does lack some of the added interest offered by Hall's Fell Ridge & Sharp Edge. Towards the top some nicely angled snow banks presented the opportunity to to give a first outing to a new set of Grivel Air Tech Crampons - I keep thinking its the last day of winter in the Lakes but it keeps going on!

The summit ridge was spectacular and only one person on it. In one of those small world coincidences the solitary walker & myself shared a mutual friend, Richard, if you are reading this it was good to meet you!

The air clarity was good offering big views in all directions. Above is the view in a broadly easterly direction towards the Pennines. Beneath is across the Northern fells to the distant Solway Firth.

I crossed the summit ridge heading west and before the camera batteries died caught one or two nice glimpses looking back at the ground just crossed.

My descent was around the broad mass of Blease Fell; contouring toward Blease Gill & back to Threlkeld.

There are more images from the afternoon on Flickr

Approx Stats: 5 miles & 2,500' ascent

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Lighting Up Dark Places

The concept of lighting up dark places has always appealed to me on lots of different levels.

Last night we took a small group of students from University of Cumbria out caving. My presence on the trip was simply to provide cover for Kevin while he set up the abseils & ladder climbs - an easy evening for me. While the group went on to explore the attractive "canyon-way" which is beyond the short pitch in Valley Entrance cave Alan & I were able to just relax at the pitch head; talking; listening; enjoying the contrast between the dark & the light in the cave environment. I'll try to record a sound clip next time an occasion like this presents itself, I think it would sound good.

There was plenty of opportunity to take a few photos from some different perspectives, they may not be the best ever example of cave photography but I do quite like one or two of them. There's a full set on Flickr.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Canoeing on Sunday

After making the statement at New Year that there would be more canoeing on the blog this year - the first canoeing post has been a long time coming!

Anyway, I spent the weekend working on the In2venture Activity Weekend at Blaithwaite House & on Sunday morning looked after a canoeing workshop on the River Lidd at Penton on the Scotland-England border. There were six folk in the group & we were able to have a look at some moving water skills; solo forward paddling and a bit of poling. They were a great group to work with.

John Wood took some photos which he has kindly shared - thanks John!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Back At Seathwaite

I spent the weekend working on the In2venture Activity Weekend.

Keep an eye on www.in2v.org over the next couple of days for a full write up.

Saturday was spent at Seathwaite in Sour Milk Gill & the Wad Mines. Ferg & John Wood took some photographs - they are very much about the people in the environment rather than the environment itself: