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

Sunday, 27 April 2014


My dictionary makes a couple of different statements when it comes to defining "community":

"a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common"

"the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common"

I often think of "community" in terms of things like: local community; or a group of countries working together like the European Community; or maybe even a Church Community.........

Regular readers will possibly have realised that over recent months we have been doing much work in collaboration with the Christian Charity In2venture in the area of building community. This is a different slant on community with phrases like: "geographically disperse"; "temporary community"; "common interests" all being relevant. The community that we are trying to build with In2venture is one which is; "committed to exploring faith through outdoor activity".  Really its a bunch of folk with a common interest in outdoor activities that get together on a regular basis with the hope of encouraging; inspiring; taking "rest" from daily life together as we engage with our created environment through outdoor activity. We've had some great times together exploring caves; climbing mountains & journeying by open canoe. There's a link to the programme here, if you might be interested - you know how to get in touch!!

In the meantime here are a few photos, hopefully they might be inspiring, encouraging & say something of our awesome created environment:


By the way, the scope of this Community building is presently being broadened to include a separate "Family Programme", there's a link here. We've had a great time out with families, paddling canoes; scrambling in ghylls & messing about in the woods - if you'd like more info. Please just get in touch!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Arenig Fawr

With: Marion

Where: Arenig Fawr, Snowdonia

Weather: dry & sunny

Unbelievably the first "proper" mountain day of 2014 had to wait until April, the compensation though was glorious sunshine for the whole day. The location, too, was very new to me - the southern half of Snowdonia - Arenig Fawr was a superb day out.

We started our ascent mid-morning from the minor road adjacent to Llyn Cellyn and used what appears to be a recently improved Water Authority track leading to the hidden and very impressive Llyn Arenig, nestled beneath towering cliffs.

We walked across the dam before beginning a steep climb to the fence which leads on above the lake.

The main ridge to Arenig Fawr was now obvious and we were able to make an off-piste approach to gain the high ground by the most direct route without losing any unnecessary height. The journey along the ridge was a joy and upon approach to the final summit the mountain-scape changed to a pleasant rocky environment decorated in places by what we later found to be Club Moss amongst other impressive flora & fauna.

This final "pull" to the top of the mountain was excellent and had everything about it that we love in Snowdonia: rocky, steep, big views & a wild feel - we hadn't & weren't to - see another soul all day. The summit itself is decorated by a plaque in memory of a US Air Force Flying Fortress crew who crashed on the summit during the summer of 1943 whilst on a training flight from their base in Cambridgeshire. There's still some Aluminium wreckage & local people clearly continue to make a pilgrimage to the summit with poppies & crosses, very moving.
We opted for a lengthy descent along the ridge that runs generally in a northerly direction back to the road. It was fairly gentle, although a little boggy in its lower reaches and affords excellent views back up the mountain we had just climbed.

Alternative Mode of Transport

We are just back from an incredible week in Snowdonia & for the first time ever it passed without a drop of rain.

Accommodation for the week was the superb Bodiwan B&B in Bala, to be more exact Mimosa Cottage which adjoins the main building. Sarah & Mark were great hosts, this is an outstanding place to stay! Its worth mentioning the added dimension of history as it was the house of Michael D Jones, whose inspiration it was in 1865 to try to gain a better deal for Welsh tenant farmers by funding a voyage on the Mimosa to found the Welsh colony in Patagonia.

Did I mention the weather? The photo below is Llyn Vyrnwy, not a Mediterranean resort.

It was a recommendation from friends that we should check out the bike hire at Vyrnwy, which was built on by Mark & Sarah who suggested tandem hire - and so it was! What a way to enjoy the approx 10 mile circuit of the lake. There could be more of this!!

The sun shone throughout our circuit of the reservoir, which I've always been led to believe was where our drinking water originated for when being brought up in Widnes! There were a few other cyclists out and about - our tandem learning curve didn't result in too many embarrassing moments.
It was good to stop & take a look at "The Hand" which has been carved from a (pollarded?) tree on the far side of the lake - it's the creation of a talented friend Simon O'Rourke, check out his work here & see "The Hand" below. The UK's tallest tree (a Scot's Pine) standing at over 60m high is also in this area.


Finishing the afternoon off with tea at the Llyn Vyrnwy Hotel is also something to be commended!
The following day, still under bright sunshine, saw a first trip to Dolegllau for another cycle trip along the 9 mile route of the Mawddach Trail to Barmouth. We did the return trip, in the shadow of Cadair Idris enjoying a couple of hours at Barmouth over lunch time. The trip saw only minor mishap, in the shape of a fall, no serious injury though!



Friday, 11 April 2014

A Day to be Noted

Thursday 10th April 2014 was a cool wet early morning in Carlisle, the earliest part of the journey south on the M6 showed little promise of improvement as we headed off towards Glenridding for a day with Teresa, Dan & Thomas. Fortunately nearing the Penrith junction there was a promise of brighter skies and an improving picture, a day of open canoeing & gill scrambling lay ahead in the Ullswater area.


As the day went on the weather improved & several short journeys along the shoreline & out into the open water of the lake were enjoyed by all, the first of several lunches were eaten on the stony beach just outside of Glenridding.


We packed the gear away at the lake around noon & headed to our next venue, the tiny hamlet of Hartsop & some deft parking on the very welcome but crowded “honesty” village car park.
The next phase of our day was a gill scramble in Hayeswater Gill, recent rain must be keeping plenty of water in Hayeswater itself as the level was quite “lively”. We dropped into the Gill just after the end of the new deer fence & within minutes one of our number was rather wet! Careful picking of our route, with frequent exits from the immediate vicinity of the gill led us to the footbridge where further refreshment was enjoyed before a final couple of scrambles on some really quite pleasant water cascades. It was a weary but smiling team that made its way to the White Lion in Patterdale for a welcome early evening meal, the lamb stew was excellent!

Ullswater Hayes Water Ghyll April 2014 741

Ullswater Hayes Water Ghyll April 2014 755

Ullswater Hayes Water Ghyll April 2014 769

Ullswater Hayes Water Ghyll April 2014 771

This post also appears on the In2venture website www.in2v.org

A Watery Week at The Office

The new season has very much arrived and this week has been the busiest to date, in the outdoors, of 2014.

Its been a very watery start to the year, much rain has fell from the sky & this week has had a distinctly "watery" bias!

Monday night saw a group of 9 adults out for an evening in Ash Gill, North Pennines. It was the highest level at which I have ever attempted this particular venue, some of the popular spots were unusable & others became white water swimming locations for the evening, Ash Gill was "kayakable" on Monday night! I'm just waiting on a couple of photos which I'll insert later.

Wednesday saw the Gill theme continue with morning & afternoon youth groups in Cat Gill, near Derwent Water, the run off of water is clearly quite quick at this location as although a little wet water levels were lower than I had envisaged. It was great to spend the day working with my "Best Man" Paul Rich (see previous post)

Thursday will be the subject of a separate post to follow other than to say we spent an excellent day in the Ullswater area with Teresa, Dan & Thomas which featured a morning of Open Canoeing & an afternoon's gill scrambling in the excellent Hayeswater Gill