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

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Exped Prep

Its been a bit frantic this morning with last minute prep for a four day open canoe expedition to NW Scotland. Alan Rainford & myself will be joined by a group of adults all keen to head north.

The gear seems to have condensed down well - the middle (blue) bag contains the stuff I'll wear on the water so the rest has gone easily into the large Ortlieb portage bag (red & black) to the right of the photo & the blue barrel (LHS). Other than that I'm taking paddles & poles; photography gear & portage wheels.

Without exhaustively listing everything the contents of the bag & barrel are roughly:

Portage Bag: 

Inside a 2nd dry bag: Goretex Bivi Bag;  Theramarest; sleeping bag; tarp; pegs & cord; boots & "dry"camping clothes; head torch; camp hygiene stuff

Blue Barrel:

First Aid / medical kit; repair kit; gas & stove; cooking utensils; three main meals (gone for Wayfarers this time); breakfasts; lunch; water purification system; a drop of malt (its impossible to go away with Mr Rainford without such an item!)

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Outdoors

Across The Solway From Headend quarry

Spending time in the outdoors; enjoying outdoor activity; outdoor sports....... its a broad spectrum & I often spend time reflecting on "what is" outdoor activity?

For me its a continuum that starts somewhere around "just being" in the outdoors: sitting or walking on easy ground and just watching; listening; feeling; soaking in all that oozes out of our natural created environment. Its a continuum that progresses through journeying in that environment: on foot in the high fells often just wandering with a loose plan around the Lake District's higher places - the area around Esk Pike; Bowfell; The Scafells; Great Gable has always been special to me, as have the quiter Northern Fells. 

Equally that journey could be by canoe preferably these days on big open water (the sea, sea lochs, large lakes). I paddle less on white water now.

At the farther end of my continuum is a day underground - with a liking for a big vertical pot hole in the Yorkshire Dales. I love a visit to: Marble Steps; Rowten Pot; Hurnell Moss Pot to name just a few! This never fails to provide a different perspective - physical; other worldly; but a truly unique environment.

Within all of this is working with groups & the whole concept of introducing young people & adults to these activities through which we interact with our world in a different kind of way. I find this inspirational.

Below are a few photos from the last couple of weeks working with groups:

Thanks to Sara & Clare for some of the photography

Monday, 20 May 2013

Mine Exploration

A short post this morning - just a few photos really.

During the Cumbrian monsoon on Saturday Brendan Robson & myself did the abseil trip from Smallcleugh Mine to Rampgill Mine at Nenthead. There was plenty of water about - especially on the roads!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Sea Kayaking Co Durham Coast

The post industrial coast of County Durham in the North East of England is not synonymous with sea kayaking. However, its underrated!

Out on Saturday with: Rob Bianchi; Paul Richardson; Chris; Mike & Penny - we accessed the sea at Hartlepool's North Shore in miserable conditions with a force 4 south westerly and persistent light rain.

Our target, 9 miles north was Seaham.

Paul & I started out in the double sea kayak which turned out to be a good move, at least for us, as the first few miles offered the least protection from the wind and the solo paddlers undoubtedly had to work that bit harder to maintain direction.

I don't recall seeing a soul out on the beaches all morning. Although giving some steering issues the wind was adequately behind us to offer at least a little assistance as we headed north around the change of the tide.

After lunch we had a boat swap with Mike & Penny switching to the double, whilst Paul & I used the solo boats. The sea state calmed a little and we were offered further protection from what to me, at least, were unexpected sea cliffs for the rest of the trip. We discussed the fact that this coastline is more like a northern extension of the North Yorkshire coast (eg. Sandsend, Saltburn etc) rather than the southern extension of the Northumberland beaches.

Along this cliff protected stretch there were sea caves; rock hopping opportunities and despite the relative urbanisation just inland quite a wild feel. The days of this being Britain's coal cost felt long gone.

We finished just short of Seaham harbour after a total outing time of around four hours - in the best conditions of the day!

Looking Back South From Seaham

Monday, 13 May 2013

Las Alpujarras

Apologies for scarcity of posts just lately - have been away to Sierra Nevada

The journey in its entirety was a bit of an epic, I've told many of the tales to folk off-line and may return to report some of them here in the future. To be honest, the time spent travelling in the high mountains was physically not the most demanding but it was good to get above 8,500' - the highest ever for me on foot.

I stayed in Capileira & will make an unapologetic advert for Jose's Cafe - Bar El Tilo: Great spot Jose, thanks for your hospitality!! 

Lots to tell, lots to think about but for now here are a few photos (all taken with the HTC OneX camera phone - travelling light!):

Capileira - 1500m & looking towards the mountains

Catching up with my good friend San Miguel at El Tilo

My route towards Alto del Chorrillo

Ascent of Prada Llana

I'm going to be controversial & say that I am completely "cool" with signs & way-marked paths in the mountains - think they are preferable to the way we litter the fells with often meaningless cairns

These trees were everywhere - really liked them, they are a pine of some sort but not sure what?

More from Capileira

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Wrysgan Slate Mine

After dropping off boats from the recent canoe trip Alan & myself drove down to North Wales in order to complete our familiarisation with Wrysgan Slate Mine.

After a night at the Pen-y-Pass Youth Hostel we headed down to Tanygrisiau via breakfast in Bedgellert. We were headed off for the mine entrance by 09:30 & completed a full mine tour from floors 1 -5, with re-entry at the impressive Floor 6 with all its daylight chambers.

A short walk back down the hill, on the outside, saw us go back in again at Floor 3 to enjoy the long traverse, followed by a climb down the hand-line and on to the man-way on Floor 2 for an abseil descent and exit. This is an excellent trip.

Canoe Micro Expedition

I know a guy called John Pear. He has an infectious & informed love of the outdoors; he's a very competent climber & mountaineer; quickly became an equally skilled open canoeist & was exploring mines and caves in the North of England before I knew they existed. He's also a really good friend!

Unfortunately John hasn't been too well for quite a few years now and time doing "stuff" together has become more limited. 

We'd been thinking about an open canoe over-nighter for quite a while.

So the other night, with John staying in the area - along with Alan Rainford & Paul Rich we launched our boats heading for an island & a rendevous with the stars. despite the appearance of the above photo within a few hundred metres we were paddling with a brisk F4/5 westerly at our backs and the journey was swift. Tarps were in place equally quickly and the absence of expedition practise was no hindrance - it never leaves you!

Great to see John out again - a big step!

Through the evening the wind dropped & the cloud steadily dispersed to leave the magical sight of star filled heavens. We ate; talked; joked and shared a whole load of memories & stories around the fire that evening - what a night!

I never slept much  - so I got my full dose of the over night experience.

Next morning it was fine, bright & a good bit milder than forecast. The lake was glass calm as we set off to conclude this short interlude in life.

John - it was great to see you out again, looking forward to the next time!