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, 17 March 2015

Wild Places & Temptation

I don't have many regrets in the whole area of outdoor activity..... Maybe not having cracked on and pushed some areas further in terms of qualifications rather than becoming a "General Practitioner"; maybe not having done much more sea kayaking, something I enjoy but haven't really done a lot of? However, the one thing that stands out the most is what was, for me at least, a relatively short-lived spell as an aspirant (but not very talented) fell runner - I'd like to have done much more.

The seven or eight years spent living at Blaithwaite House provided a great platform for this activity, the first two or three of these years were beset by the self manufactured issue of living in the Lake District and experiencing all of its problems but few of its benefits. The "busyness" of Centre Life swamping leisure time. However, after a re-think on how best to enjoy some of these benefits whilst still giving the Centre the time, effort and attention it merited one outcome was to enjoy the local fells as a runner!

With hindsight this was possibly an ill conceived plan from the outset as knees already beginning to show early signs of the wear and tear of an active life were always unlikely to survive the demands of fell running. However, a combination of evening runs in our local Northern Fells and getting up early on a Sunday morning so that I could travel farther afield; tick off three or four summits and be back before guests were getting ready to leave was a combination which practically fitted very well into life and gave a real sense of the benefit of living in this beautiful part of the world.

As such, long runs over The Dodds; Eel Crags with Sail & Oughterside; Base Brown and the Gables alongside those Spring evenings on Longlands, Lowthwaite, Great Sca Fell and Brae Fell all fed a growing interest in covering long distances, fast & light, in the area in which I lived. Although the Lake District can hardly be argued to be a wilderness its sense of "wildness" was greatly enhanced in these times when there were few others about. Moving quickly; often alone; across wind swept ridges offered a sense of freedom previously unknown to me in the outdoor world. It was mostly a solitary pastime and never competitive, other than with myself. As the distances grew, with fell based half marathons being almost commonplace so the internal struggles increased, sometimes no doubt physical as issues with fluids and nutrition were resolved. At other times these same struggles were undoubtedly mental in origin as mind tried to persuade body that it could no longer continue. This temptation became a familiar running mate.

Amongst many instances I can recall running a 20 mile Old Crown Round (about 8,000' of ascent) with my son-in-law, it was the day of my fiftieth birthday! We'd set off from Mosedale and ran over Mungrisdale Common and Blencathra before dropping down into the valley of the Glenderaterra for the ascent of Sale How. I found the next section, over Sale How and on to the summit of Skiddaw to be brutal. As we ascended into low damp cloud with burning thighs and for me a deep sense of fatigue the temptation to quit at this point was overwhelming. I didn't and the rest of the round was the most enjoyable part of the day, a goal achieved and temptation denied.

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