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

Friday, 27 June 2014

Canoes, Mountains & Caves "Community": Summer Programme Updates

Some CMC "Community" Summer Programme updates, see below for booking details:

17 July
An evening underground (Cave or Mine depending on weather)

10-15 August...

"Drop-In" camping holiday at Bala, Snowdonia.
Canoes, Mountains & Caves all on offer as activity options or just come along & chill. Stay for the week or just a couple of days - its up to you. Couples, singles, families - all welcome!

30-31 August
Canoe micro-exped, Lake District
This one will be for adults. Places are limited please BOOK EARLY

06-07 September
Canoe micro-exped, Lake District
Aimed at families who we will try to prioritise but ALL welcome. Places are limited please BOOK EARLY

There'll be a new Autumn programme out in September, to take us through to Christmas.

The above events are offered on our "Community Basis" i.e. free of charge at the point of delivery but donations to support this aspect of our work will be gratefully received.

For more details or to BOOK email: cmcmmt1@gmail.com


Tuesday, 24 June 2014


The month of June has seen some welcome warm and dry weather.

Last night we took the opportunity for an evening paddle on Derwent Water, one of the true blessings of living in this part of Northern Cumbria is to be able to take advantage of fine summer night to get out in the fells; take in an evening's scrambling or on this occasion to savour the splendour of a still, quiet body of water, surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery.

We made a relaxed journey from Kettlewell (my Mum & Dad's birthday gift of annual national Trust membership was so gratefully received & has been such a benefit!) to St Herbert's Island and back, pausing for a picnic on the shores of the Island.

What struck me, especially on the return journey was the subtle changing light as the higher mountains of Borrowdale were illuminated from different angles & the stillness of a flat calm Derwent Water. A stillness that when observed more closely was teeming with life and activity as fish jumped and birds swooped and dived. It was a beautiful evening.

Viewed From The River

Its a good while since I've spent a day on a river in a canoe.
Saturday saw the Canoes, Mountains & Caves Community out on the River Tyne at Prudhoe. There were ten of us & the sun shone all day. What an enjoyable way to pass a few hours.

Rivers offer a very different view of the world, especially from the vantage point of an open canoe, sat literally on the water. A river is nature's created highway, a means of transport for so many types of creature; a delicate ecosystem supporting a diverse range of life. The canoe offers a unique perspective: the noise of the water as it oozes & surges over and between rocks to form rapids; the constant movement & power of the water which needs to be worked with rather than against......

We spent the day looking at basic tandem & solo open canoe skills: forward paddling; turning; moving sideways. Each session led from this into moving water skills: ferry gliding; breaking in to & out of current and on to traditional skills of checking, setting, back ferrying and even a couple of excellent poling sessions.

There are a series of photos below to illustrate what for one or two was a very wet day!
A massive thank you to Adrian Wintle for all his help with both logistical & coaching support!!


Friday, 20 June 2014

Causey Arch

Yesterday was spent at Causey Arch in Co Durham, as well as its historical interest its a location that brought back many fond memories.

Climbing at Causey and paddling canoes on the River Wear was very much where my personal involvement in the professional delivery of outdoor activities began, all those years ago - 1993 saw a first visit to Causey if my memory serves me well!!

Anyway, it was good to be back. The weather was fine and dry and it was a pleasure to spend another day in the company of a group of guys from the Salvation Army. Abseiling was the activity of choice, everybody achieved and a few fears were conquered. Our first descent was about  30-35', followed by a much more intimidating 60' drop. All good fun & much enjoyed!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hidden Beauty?

Some reflections from Marion on our day on Helvellyn:

The outdoors, whether it is viewed as ‘creation’ or ‘evolution’ has much to offer and on those days out amongst the carpet of flora and flurry of fauna; rugged rocks and majestic mountains; gentle streams and gushing waterfalls, I find myself left with many pondering thoughts.

As I wander through, what is for me the ‘created’, I see many parallels with life’s journey and am thankful for the all-round vision of the ‘Creator’.

Our recent exploration up Helvellyn Ghyll was no exception.  As we made our way into this tree flanked and fern shrouded ravine, we found such beauty – a reminder for me that our Creator hasn’t hidden anything from us, but that an abundance of blessings are there for us if we just dare to take hold of His hand and tread the path.

The pathway through the ghyll was by no means an easy option for the day (particularly for those with short arm and leg span!).  Decisions and choices had to be made on which rocks were drier and safest; how to negotiate the slippery ones when there was no other option; which foliage was well rooted and stable; what was dead wood, and loose rocks … mere obstacles that could be removed; and what boulders could be lovingly held! These decisions were not always easy as the potentially paralysing fear of ‘what happens if …’ began to rise; a fear that could actually only be negated by making a move and testing the surrounding surfaces to see which would fulfil the purpose; moments to pause and breath were required to gain strength and move on.

In one particular section as I tested some rocks for a foothold, and realised the need to kick most of it away before I could find a firm foundation to put my weight on; and without hesitation move quickly a clump of ferns that were blocking my view of a handhold, I found myself thinking over the last few weeks and months.  A vision and purpose having opened up to us, our life’s journey of late has meant that we have had much to ‘test’ to know what changes needed to be made in life; what was to remain with us to make the road ahead firm and well rooted; and what would be a hindrance and distraction, to its accomplishment, and reaching the beauty of blessings that it could offer.

As we moved out onto the well-trodden ‘man made’ assent to the summit, although the views were big and beautiful in the afternoon sun, it felt as if something was lacking; the intimacy of the ghyll had impacted me more than I first realised. As much as the respite from the ‘challenges’ for a brief moment were welcome, there was a yearning to be close to the elements again.  And so the crags beckoned …


For me, this was another reminder of how in the ‘challenges’ of life, as I have dropped the hand of my friend Jesus, and let some distance come between us, life has lost something special; He has still been there but His awesome presence has been diluted by my decision to step aside and ‘go it alone’.  Thankfully His unconditional love has been even greater than the beckoning of the crags …




Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Scrambling in the Sun: Helvellyn Ghyll & Browncove Crags

Canoes, Mountains & Caves  spent a day in the sun exploring Helvellyn Ghyll & Browncove Crags. Much time has been spent in the past considering Helvellyn Ghyll and its options but Browncove Crags was a first today.

The weather was superb, touching 20 degC on return to the car, we entered the ghyll at the first proper footbridge after leaving Swirls car park & spent the next two hours progressing up the numerous cascades. At just about all times we were able to stay at the rock-water margin & we didn't get wet. The photos below give a feel of the challenges presented.



We left the ghyll, with still plenty left undone, to continue briefly along the tourist path as far as the end of the broken wall before heading off towards Browncove Crags. Scrambling routes on these crags are described in: "50 Best Scrambles in the lake District" by Bill O'Connor (a book I have cherished for many years) & in the Cicerone Guide: "Scrambles in the Lake District, North". Both guides describe route finding as "intricate". For our part we approached the main gulley via the lower scree slopes and "scrambled on sight" broadly up the right hand side of the gulley combining scrambles & traverses across the rock with steep climbs up the small grassy/rocky rakes before eventually reaching the top of the crags and continuing to Helvellyn Lower Man. We opted not to take in Helvellyn's summit, it was in cloud, preferring to stay in the sun for the day! By the way, there were some excellent views as well!






Monday, 2 June 2014

Re-Connecting: COAC @ Ellerton 2014

Canoes, Mountains & Caves spent the weekend with the folk from Cockerton Outdoor Activity Club (COAC) at their annual canoeing & camping event at Ellerton Water Park in North Yorkshire.

This year was the 16th Ellerton weekend & began on Friday evening in dry conditions with a little hazy sunshine, a very rare commodity over the years! We got tents pitched and moved boats around before adjourning to the camp fire.

Saturday morning dawned with the most incredible bird song and a clear blue & sunny sky. Porridge for breakfast and ever increasing numbers appearing on site for a day on the water.

There were sessions for "beginners" & "skill builders" in both canoe & kayak in the morning, a break for lunch and then a full afternoon on the lake - around 50 people participated in the water based activities, whilst on dry land families took part in "Viking Chess" & compass trails - all good fun!

Tea time on Saturday was a mass BBQ - excellent!

In the evening sunshine a few of us enjoyed a "tech-geek" open canoe skills session, looking at both paddling & poling technique, there are quite a few photos of this below and on our Facebook Page

The latter part of the evening was once again spent around the camp fire, another late night!

Sunday morning saw "Alternative Church" take place on the water as an armada of Canoes & Kayaks set sail and went on to hear of Peter's attempt to walk on water...........

It was a special occasion to spend the weekend in the company of so many good friends and reassuring to sense that the "heart" of COAC remains well after all these years.