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

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Enjoying the Outdoors

Its a blessing, a real privilege to be able to spend as much time as we do living and working in the outdoors across the North of England and further afield. Recently after a day with a group of students from the North East on Ullswater we decided that rather than head straight for home we'd spend a little more time enjoying the south end of the lake.

The sun had come out and the water was calm, a short paddle saw us cross from Glenridding to the far side of the lake. The highlight though was an exploration, upstream, of Goldrill Beck. Ullswater itself had a hustle & bustle about it with a truly diverse range of craft navigating its waters. Goldrill Beck, however, provided an instant and stark contrast: a small group of kayaks in its lower reaches were the only people we saw. The trees that lined the banks were like a net curtain, shutting out the rest of the world save for the bright light that filtered through their green canopy. The reflections were such that it was difficult to discern where the water began and the trees ended - it was our created planet at its finest. We stopped for a while at a shingle beach for a moment of reflection, it was difficult to imagine the proximity of civilisation. The float back down the beck was equally as compelling, a gem in the middle of a busy summer.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

An Evening In The Sun

The recent spell of warm weather is most welcome. On Wednesday, the hottest day so far in Cumbria, we were working underground all day at Nenthead with a group of adults from the North East. Emerging from the mine into hot sunshine soon led to conversation as to how we might be able to use the rest of the day, a journey home and quick turn round saw us heading out to a favourite local climbing spot - Headend Quarry.

It was a beautiful evening, still 21 degC at six thirty, with big views south into the Lake District and north across the Solway Firth.

We had the crag to ourselves and rigged a couple of climbs for top roping, nice and straightforward on warm rock.

Now I haven't done any lead climbing since Graham's fall & injury over 18 months ago. So the return to leading was very gentle! However, it went smoothly and it felt good to top out and climb out of the increasing shade into the bright sunlight at the top of the crag. Marion seconded the climb, hitch free, and at turned nine o'clock it was still warm in the sunshine. Save for three folk coming up to admire the view and take photographs we saw no one all evening.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Photo of the Month: May

Sorry its a bit late! May's photo of the month was taken by John Pear at this year's COAC Ellerton weekend.

Both open canoes & tarps are versatile pieces of equipment, John captured them both being used to good effect!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

COAC Ellerton Weekend 2015

Cockerton Outdoor Activity Club (COAC), based in Darlington, have been visiting Ellerton Water Park for their annual canoeing and camping event since the late nineties - its a great family occasion! I checked back in my own canoe log book this weekend: my first visit to Ellerton was on 28th November 1993 (pre-COAC days!); the first entry that might align with a COAC weekend was in the summer of 1999, making this at least the seventeenth COAC Ellerton Weekend!

I don't recall writing about COAC previously in these pages. Founded in the 1990's by members of two Darlington Churches COAC seeks to use outdoor activities with much innovation as an independent extension of these Church's  youth and family work. The organisation has skills in the areas of: water sports, climbing, caving and archery in fact the first "phase" of this year's Ellerton weekend was an open canoeing session with a local Guide group. They run regular archery sessions in the village Church Hall; pool kayak sessions in the winter and a number of canoe river trips to name but a few events. COAC's identity is very much in being a local group, serving the community in which the organisation is based. The "club" is bound together by ties of relationship rather than an emphasis on organisational structure and hierarchy.

This year's Ellerton saw about 35 folk attend plus the above mentioned Guides and began with set up and fish and chips on Friday evening. There was the usual late night "option" of gathering around a blazing camp fire on what was a cool but dry evening.

Saturday morning dawned bright and fine as forecast and the day began with the first open canoe session on the water, with the Guides, at around 09:30. This overlapped with a kayak session for some of the younger element that was present and events were underway. Session followed session on the water with ages from under tens to over sixties enjoying a warm but breezy Ellerton day which even saw a bit of canoe sailing and a water based orienteering course. Ellerton is a vibrant place these days and we shared the water with divers, sailors and a multitude of open water swimmers. All that said its a real bonus for COAC to have a camping field to themselves for the weekend.

Saturday ended with a barbecue, which was excellent, and another night around the camp fire. The rain held off and restricted itself to overnight, allowing ultimately for dry tents to be taken down for everybody.

Sunday was windy and the usual "service" afloat was held, appropriately, with discussion of Jesus calming the storm! Throughout the course of the morning tents came down and farewells were said. 

This year's Ellerton had a very different feel to it, relaxed but purposeful, with a real sense of energy and determination - already looking forward to 2016!!