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 September 2015


Its the last Sunday in September and spending the evening under the glow of a "super moon" waiting with anticipation for the rare event of a lunar eclipse I'm reflecting on just what a month its been: undoubtedly one of the busiest months of a busy summer; undoubtedly the best month for weather in the North of England this summer.

The first weekend saw us in Ayrshire running our second micro-expedition on Loch Doon. This one was the "family event" and we had an amazing time with two families, arrival was midday Saturday in bright, warm, sunny weather. Departure was twenty four hours later. Other than it going dark overnight the sun never stopped shining!

We accessed the Loch towards its southern end close to the ruined castle and initially traveled north, the paddlers became increasingly more familiar with their craft as we journeyed collecting fire wood ahead of an open crossing of the Loch in calm conditions aiming ultimately for what Bill Mason would have described as an "A1" campsite. The white beach was flat with low shrub like brush providing ideal shelter for tents. The kids splashed around in the water until it went dark and the camp fire burned late into the evening providing a focal point for lively conversation! 

Sunday dawned equally brightly and our journey continued into the southern recesses of the Loch ahead of another open crossing in slightly more breezy conditions to explore the watery ruins of the original Loch Doon castle. As planned we landed back where we started twenty four hours earlier. A superb trip.

The early part of the month also featured some traditional Ghyll Scrambling in the Lake District with a local youth group in equally fine conditions. More open canoeing followed, freelancing, on youth adventure days on Derwent Water using rafted open canoes, we attempted to sail each day but there was no wind ...

Last week was dominated by caving with groups in the Yorkshire Dales. The weather was a little more unsettled towards the beginning of the week but conditions underground remained pretty stable with just low -  moderate water levels. Its always a privileged occasion to be able to introduce young people to the experience and challenge of the underworld for the first time. 

High pressure has built again towards the weekend producing temperatures around 20 degrees, very nice for the time of year! Yesterday was a "Community Day" gorge walking in Liddel Water as it describes the line of the England-Scotland border at Penton. Its a gorge that never fails to deliver with exciting jumps at the beginning and the end sandwiching a grade 4 rapid which needs to be ascended; swam in; floated down in between! Water levels were ideal yesterday: low enough to be able to make progress against the flow of the current but as always still plenty of water in the pools for safe jumping.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Carrock Wolframite Mine

With:          Andy Hoe

When:        09 September 2015

Weather:    Uncharacteristically warm late summer evening

I first heard of Carrock Wolframite Mine as long ago as 2007 in the early days of living and working at Blaithwaite House. It was described as a local mine, well worth exploring but with some sensitivity around access. It remained on the "to do" list or even the back burner for the next eight years! Earlier this year when out on a trip to Lucy Tongue Level in Greenside mine led by CATMHS, Carrock came up in conversation: the restoration work undertaken on the Canadian X-Cut entrance; the new "key" system for access and other bits and pieces were discussed. This all led ultimately to Andy Hoe and myself setting off up Mosedale on a warm, late summer, Wednesday evening.

A review of our joint research and a brief look at the map had us seeking the confluence of Brandy Gill and Grainsgill Beck: the evidence of past industrial endeavour in the area is extensive and we were surprised upon approach to the confluence to be met by an information board offering insight into the historical activities undertaken in this area & suggesting the exact location of the adit to the Canadian X--cut! The shortest of walks and we were stood at the recently & impressively restored entrance. Next, getting in... We'd had a bit of a last minute ratch around trying to procure the appropriate "key" so it was with some relief that the gate was smoothly opened!

The Canadian X-cut, as the name implies, driven by Canadian engineers in the 1940's connects the earlier Harding (1900) and Smith Veins. The first efforts undertaken at Carrock were to recover lead from the site in 1870 through Emerson. However, it was the significantly more valuable Tungsten ores of Wolframite and Scheelite that were recovered in abundance by the Canadians from the Harding and Smith veins (north) leading to the mine's most prosperous period. Tungsten originally found use in filaments for light bulbs but latterly its principle use was via the military for hardening steel to be employed in armour plating & shell tips.The mine's fortunes fluctuated with the price of Tungsten and after the Canadian efforts of the 1940's it was to be 1976 before the mine re-opened for a period of six years, its final closure being in 1982. Personally, I find it disappointing that after closure the surface buildings were demolished leaving scant evidence of this particular piece of our industrial heritage.

Underground, just a few metres after the entrance, a cross roads is reached. Everything to the right being the Harding & Smith veins (north) and to the left their south running counterparts. On the evening of the visit we explored just about everything apart from Emerson Vein which is accessed from Harding Vein (North). 

Harding Vein (North) is an excellent area for the mine explorer: passages cut through solid rock and chasing the wandering course of a quartz vein; ore pass after ore pass and magnificent stopes extending to great height. We spent considerable time in this area.

A return trip will be needed for Emerson Vein and Harding Vein (South) although I believe the latter extends only as far as a sludge dam. All in all a great evening underground.

Friday, 4 September 2015

A Moment in Time - Part 2 - Wrysgan August 2015

‘…There are moments in life that a camera cannot fully capture the beauty or power of a scene; cannot speak of what the naked eye has truly seen and experienced…’
Another of these occasions occurred whilst revisiting Wrysgan Slate Mine, one of our Bala Community Holiday activities. After an inaugural visit to this site in 2013, a time that was also a baptism of fire into the underground there was an air of readiness to enter and encounter.
Having previously conquered the various extremities of this mine and Cwmorthin, along with the hours spent in the more local mine at Nenthead, confidence was at a good level and even the 100ft drop traverse seemed less daunting; knowledge and experience was much greater, a hope and belief that what had been accomplished once could be completed again without the same anxiety!
However, what hadn’t been prepared for and was a million miles away from any consideration prior to entry was a very brief, but what seemed like a ‘forever’ moment of entering a section of the mine solo to recover some rope.
Already having walked this way with the group, the ‘on the spot’ offer to tread the same path again didn’t seem to invite or induce any real emotion, it seemed within range – this however was soon to change!
Within a few steps of ‘independence’ an overwhelming sense of trepidation set in and before the intended destination had been reached tears began to find themselves rolling down a dust laden face; a moment of vulnerability and inadequacy took hold,  that words, once again, could not truly describe!
If ever there was a need to be focused it was now, for the light of one small head torch to be used with intention and feet purposefully positioned to successfully complete the task in hand; a moment to hold onto the knowledge that, irrespective of the darkness that surrounded and the feelings this conjured, God had gone no-where – a moment to acknowledge His inescapable presence and care.
‘Where could I go that Your Spirit and presence wouldn’t be …
You even see me in the dark where Your hands lead and hold me’
(from Psalm139)