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

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!!

Preparations complete, our discoveries made, the only thing left to do was celebrate the birth of 'the man in the manger'.

It was for us to be a year to make a step of 'redefining' these celebrations and after a 'traditional' morning visit to church we took to the waters to undertake Christmas un-commercialised. 

The weatherman had for several days forecast a dry and bright Christmas Day for the North West of England, as such it was with a little disappointment we launched and took our initial paddle strokes under lead grey skies and in persistent drizzle; a chill start. What breeze there was blew into our faces, the conditions far from flat calm.

Forty five minutes saw us arrive at our island destination, recent rainfall had raised the level of the lake such that the landing was amongst the trees and there was no beach to walk across.

We quickly emptied essentials from the canoe; chose our spot; erected a tarp shelter and lit the fire. The place was deserted and as the wood smoke rose the conditions slowly improved to provide a cool winters day with patches of blue sky appearing above the trees.

A simple fire cooked the Christmas fayre feast of turkey burgers and veg, followed by mince pies & white sauce with coffee!

Lingering in the solitude the afternoon light gave way to dusk and darkness fell swiftly.

The boat was re-loaded lit only by the beams of our head torches. A silent calm had fallen over the lake and the paddle back to shore was magical. Distant lights; cool air; the sound of paddles and canoe gliding through the water described our world - Christmas re-defined.

This 're-defining' took an element of courage and boldness, and as we enter a 'New Year' we go with this same strength, looking forward to the new challenges that it brings, yet more discoveries to be made and the opportunity to make some more new definitions on life.

Our hope and prayer is that as journeys continue into 2015 it will be a year of purpose and blessing.

Mal & Marion

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Journeys End?

Preparations are almost done, the advent journey at its end.

Whether the discoveries of the manger have, provoked new thinking; been a reminder of something once found but forgotten; or an affirmation  of beliefs held in your heart, we hope that this Christmas you will know the love of the Creator; that love seen in His Son.

More than a baby, the man that is ‘God with us’ here to take our selfishness and save us from harm and danger, so that we have the chance of a life with Him forever as we trust in His ways.
May we take this opportunity to thank all of those who have shared in this journey,
we pray that you will know peace, blessings and joy this Christmas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

On Lindisfarne 2

Our exploration of Holy Island today took us from the quiet Boiler House Prayer Chapel to the landmark that is known as Emmanuels Head.

With thunderous waves impacting the shoreline our thoughts were flooded with the babe in the manger.

It was declared that what this manger held was 'God with us'; God in human form to walk the earth as a living example.

Is this a mystery that has yet to impact our shoreline of life like the waves of sea?

Monday, 22 December 2014

On Lindisfarne

Our Advent Journey has taken a greater literal turn today. We may not be on camel, or classed as 'wise professionals' but we have taken to the road and find ourselves on Holy Island, Lindisfarne.

 As we have soaked in the peacefulness we find that it stems from the dwelling of 'Cuthbert' on the island for an extended period in the seventh century. He was renowned for his gifts of healing and insight, which were much sought after by the people of the day.

The source of these gifts?  The man from the manger who Cuthbert found to be his Healer, Comforter and Guide as he put his trust in Him.

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Another musical interlude today

 Click here to view Mary Did You Know

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Bigger Picture

We come to the end of our week in the mountains and draw ever nearer to completing our Advent Journey.

The week has discovered that if we find the right path and connect with it the view that follows can be truly amazing; the baby in the manger takes this to a level beyond a days activity in the mountains!

Friday, 19 December 2014


Within these pages there are not all that many accounts, written by me, of what the plethora of activities described might mean beyond their "face value". The current Advent journey has been one of great personal challenge and has prompted much reflection on what "time spent" and "effort exerted" engaging with our Created environment entails - beyond the physical and mental exertion of completing a particular activity.

At different times over the years different activities have received more or less focus at a given time. Life and work in the North East of England saw much devotion to developing the skills to thoroughly enjoy the rivers of the Tyne & Tees by both open canoe and kayak. The move to Cumbria was with anticipation of more paddle sport and time in the fells but life's twists and turns had their say and the demands of a busy Outdoor Activity and Residential Centre alongside some extreme personal circumstances confined activities to evenings and night time hours - caving and mine exploration became an area of focus.

Canoes and kayaks; caves and mines are all things I enjoy immensely, however, for me outdoor activity all started in the mountains. A recent browse of log books revealed nearly 400 mountain day entries from: Yosemite to Spain's Las Alpajurras; Snowdonia to the North West Highlands with the epicentre being the Lake District and the North of England.

There have been days spent climbing mountains with friends and days spent trying to motivate groups. Days spent with family and many days spent on my own. There have been memorable days spent climbing to the high ground and simply wandering around soaking in the unique atmosphere and often just watching the day go by. There have been nights camped high in the fells having watched the sun set and then witnessing it rise again the following morning. Conversely there was an intense period of fell running where large distances were covered  necessitating great endeavour but with the most profound sense of freedom moving fast and light through these high places. Looking back on all of this activity its hard to remember a day that was not a most enjoyable experience, I believe there is something memorable about every one of them, that's not to say, however, that these days were easy. Just about every day in the mountains has involved a degree of physical hard work; long slogs up steep slopes that seem to go on forever and knee jarring descents over harsh rocky terrain.Similarly there have been times when mentally the demands have been great: navigating through difficult weather conditions or trying to motivate un-interested groups.

Amongst these positive, life affirming, memories its difficult not be drawn into the spiritual dimension of this activity and to consider what unites the mental and the physical. Is it that in an environment such as the mountains that the "life spark" which is our spirit recognises the spirit of the creator of both ourselves and the landscape we are engaging with?

It seems to me that there are many parallels which can be drawn between the endeavour, challenge, solitude, companionship and ultimately the satisfaction of a journey in the mountains: with life's personal spiritual journey which too can at times be difficult & lonely but which upon reflection also offers un-surpassed reward.

"In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him";
Psalm 95 v4

Thursday, 18 December 2014

More Than A Path

Our considerations on the 'paths of life' uncover some more words of the man in the manger.

"I AM the path that leads and connects you to God ..."

"I have come so that you can know and live an honest life, and plenty of it"

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


As we stand on the summits of yesterday our thoughts take us to the paths that were trodden to get us there ...

wide & smooth

... leading us to consider which might depict the 'path of life' we are on right now, and what that means?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


When heading for a day in the mountains the objective for many is to reach a summit.

In our minds summits prompt thoughts of: high points; goals and achievements.

Often marked in the mountains by stones (rough piles or impressive structures) or crosses.

Thornthwaite Crag, Far Eastern Fells

Weitspitz, summitpost,org

Summits offer us the opportunity to see things from a different perspective; new views.

Ullswater From Hallin Fell

What do we see at our summits and what do they mean to us?

Monday, 15 December 2014

Foot Steps!

In the coming week we'll take to our feet on the penultimate leg of this Advent journey.

From lakeside valley, to mountain summit the views will vary but each picture tells a story, as did the scene that those early travellers of wise men and shepherds witnessed, one that merited a response of honour and worship.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Day 14 of Advent, Carman Licciardello: The True Meaning of Christmas 25 December

Click to Play

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Other Side!

Advent week two nears its end.

As we come to land on shore our thoughts look over the week to what we've encountered.

Refreshment and cleansing; peace and calm in rough waters; but most of all the source that never runs dry.

Our hope is that as we've journeyed these waters its been a time of new discoveries.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Rough Waters!

A most appealing and inviting sight greeted us on Monday as we headed to spend a few hours on Ullswater as part of our ‘Advent Journey’; snow-capped mountains, clear blue sky and modest waters.

However, our day on the water was to be unaccomplished as personal circumstances became the challenge of the day!

On returning home we found that the waters still had a part to play in our day and had much to ‘say’.

Our thoughts were turned to the images that we have seen on many occasions over the last few months, where in the midst of ‘rough waters’ there still can be found a ‘peace and calm’.

For us this led to the account that we have read often of the man who set out, with some friends, to journey from one side of the lake to the other.  The storms came and the waters began to stir. Whilst his friends became anxious about the change in circumstances, he rested in peace and calm holding onto the words he had spoken that the opposing lake shore was their destination.

The baby we look to in the manager this Christmas became that man.

Storms come and storms go but in their rage we have found that as we look to and acknowledge the comforting, counselling words of the ‘manger man’ we can know that same peace and calm and that our ‘shore’ will undoubtedly be reached.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

More Than Water?

Flowing waters always cause the words of one of our wedding songs to resonate in our minds:

Let Your living water flow over my soul,
Let your Holy Spirit come and take control,
Of every situation that has troubled my mind,
All my cares and burdens on to you I roll.
Father, Jesus, Spirit.

Revealed in the manger, the man who came to say, "The effect of this water is short lived. The water I come to give will rise like a spring within those that receive it gushing fountains of life daily and beyond"

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Water Sources

The River Tees is a beautiful river. Its source, however, high on the eastern slopes of Cross Fell is an often bleak and in many ways  humble place for such a precious commodity to begin its life.

Photo: Northumbria Water Ltd

This beautiful river grows and comes to life as it descends, ultimately, into the worldly conurbations of North East England.

Photo: George Todd

It takes on a life and direction of its own with distinctive and unique features which cannot fail but to make an impression on those that choose to observe it.

Low Force, Summer 2015


 Where do we find our "life" source?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


On waters rough or calm we are left with the thoughts, what is this water all about and what does it mean to us?

Water is life giving and sustaining; it can be refreshing with cleansing properties and powerful in force.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Leaving Shore

As we leave the shore this week whether the waters are still & calm or rough & choppy we go with a sense of anticipation as to what might be discovered...

Sunday, 7 December 2014


Day 7 of Advent and its time for a slightly different thought. If you haven't seen or heard Cenacle they are well worth checking out!

Cenacle O Come All Ye Faithful

Saturday, 6 December 2014


Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is a milestone, the end of an Advent week underground. 

So after setting out to discover:

"who is it we are preparing for and where is it we are looking to put Him?"

Our hope is that the light has revealed some new thinking.....

Here's a roundup of a few more pictures, possibly the last this year, from some of our adventures where the light has been much needed. Hope you like them:

Tomorrow will see the start of a transition to a "watery" week afloat, look out for something completely different!