‘Scrambled Legs’

A recent trip to the French Alps provided perfect opportunity to pack in some practise as the main event fast approaches.

Small patches of snow were the only remnant of the ski season, exposing an abundance of walking trails etched within the hills – a true hiker’s playground.

19357540_10209487253727350_539761691_n-e1497810126106.jpgMuch to the FitBit’s delight, this meant that my walking partner and I far exceeded the daily step recommendation, and the further we climbed, the more rewarding the views became. 19389817_10209487253527345_2051805212_n3.5 hours and 2,172 metres later, we found ourselves at the top of Pointe de Ressachaux looking out towards Mont Blanc. Breathtaking (quite literally)! 19357617_10209487253567346_2037820376_n-e1497810238118.jpgTruth be told, the climb was relentless and made all the more exhausting by the 28 degree heat. I doubted I would reach the top on multiple occasions, sometimes pausing at  minute intervals to gather energy and much needed determination.

But as with any uphill struggle the best views come from the hardest climbs and now more than ever I feel ready to take on whatever the Yorkshire Three Peaks has in store for us!



‘Having a W(h)ales of a time’

As promised here is walk number 6 from George:

On a recent family holiday to Wales, George from IntoUniversity Leeds South, along with family (Lynda, Rebecca, Katy), dogs (Labrador – Jasper and Cocker Spaniel – Oscar) and fellow Yorkshire Three Peakers Neil and Martin decided to conquer Snowdon – the second highest mountain in the UK!

After consulting the map and many local walk guides, we decided on a route up Snowdon (Llwybr Rhyd Ddu) which was described as one of the easier routes up Snowdon.

So in fog and a bit of rain we set off, eager to reach the summit on this easiest of all the routes. After three hours and having already eaten our lunch, we met other people for the first time. Keen to track our progress (as we couldn’t see more than 20 yards ahead) we asked how far we were from the summit – to our dismay we were only around half way!

Reassuring ourselves that these people must have been incorrect we continued our ascent, with the incline steadily increasing as the path became narrower and the drops became steeper.

We would later discover this picture (at the summit), can you guess which path we were on?


That’s right we were on the pink path – so much for an easy way up!

To cut a long story, many tears and lots of shouts of ‘This cant be the real path!’ short, we made it to the summit unscathed, some of us clearly enjoying it more than others…19357500_10209486984520620_2016759641_n

We certainly felt a sense of achievement upon reaching the summit, although, as you can see from the picture below the views could have been better…

Needless to say we took an alternative path down the mountain!

All in all this was a great family experience and we are now more than ready to face anything the Yorkshire Three Peaks can throw at us!

Stay tuned for walk number 7…

‘Mud, Sweat and Beers’

This weekend myself, Kate, and two friends, Sam and Charlotte, took on what my dad calls the Derbyshire Three Peaks – Win Hill, Lose Hill and Mam Tor. Due to our poor navigation skills on a previous training walk I asked my dad to step in to help guide us around the 16 mile route.  When we first set out from the car park I’m convinced we must have looked like three students on an expedition with their DofE instructor. Before long we were handed the navigation reins, and having made our way through the quaint village of Hope we soon began on our upward journey.


We had chosen a practise walk that included various inclines, as this is the element of the event we are most nervous about – little did we know just how long the climb would last. Weaving up through fields and dodging some angry looking cows, we thought we had reached the top as it seemed to ease and become more flat. We soon realised the worst was yet to come as we faced a further gruelling 100m steep climb to reach the summit of our first peak, Win Hill. Here we felt on top of the world and very accomplished. Our spirits were high and the next two peaks we were hoping to conquer were now in sight.

It is here that we were given responsibility of my dad’s prized possession, his Garmin – a GPS device complete with pre-programmed route, making it pretty much impossible to get lost (in theory). Sam led the way back down the hill (why don’t they just build bridges between hills?) where it began to spit with rain. But in true British style, the sun had made an appearance as we came to climb the next peak, Lose Hill, causing us all to completely de-robe. In fact, at this point, I could barely see from the sweat dripping down into my eyes – Note to self: invest in a cool sweatband for the actual walk..?  A passer-by reassured us that Lose Hill was tougher than Mam Tor and encouraged us to take the easier way up rather than the steeper tougher option. Taking his advice we continued on the “easier” route (god knows how bad the alternative was!!), but were still feeling positive that we’d reach the top. We finally summited Lose Hill and were 10km in. It was motivating in itself just to see how far we had come, not to mention the sights of where we would be heading next. The views from the top were amazing and worth the slog up.


Now, the easier option was to head along the ridge straight for Mam Tor, however myself and dad have Irish heritage so a pub pit-stop was always on the cards. Unfortunately they don’t build pubs on hills (new business venture?) so we dropped down into Edale to grab a quick pint and pub lunch. As it was Sunday there was a Carvery which made the boys very happy.  As soon as we’d arrived the heavens opened and there were many wet dogs and their owners who poured into the pub 5 minutes after our arrival. Our legs were glad of the break and we got to use actual toilets which was ace! We put our waterproofs on and headed out into the wet wilderness once more! We had to re-trace our steps back from Edale, up onto the ridge that would take us to Mam Tor. This was a long, slow slog up, with us getting very wet, the paths very slippy and muddy and spirits definitely dipped.  An afternoon nap would have been a better suiting activity after filling our stomachs with delicious food.


When we finally reached the ridge we were fooled once again, assuming that we’d done our day’s hard work. To our disappointment it was one continuous incline up to Mam Tor. At this stage we’d resorted to playing the categories game, which quickly came to a halt as we were all too out of breathe in our march up. It didn’t help boost our confidence seeing a guy run up the hill as we were struggling to walk up it! About an hour after we’d left the pub we had reached the top of Mam Tor.  The rain had stopped and we felt super ecstatic that we’d made it to the final peak still feeling reasonably ok! From here it was just down and flat right? – easy.


We had only made it down to the first road when our navigation skills took a turn for the worse. The Garmin had lost the map causing us to loose time while we attempted to re-load it. After jumping over a wall to get away from some angry cows (yes, more) we were back on track. The last part of the route involved us walking down a runnel (we didn’t know what this was either, it’s a big ditch!) and towards the Blue John Caverns. From here we dropped down into Castleton, had a quick kit-kat and then made it back to the car at Hope.

It took us 8 hours, with an hour for lunch, to do 25km which is around 16 miles.  So we just have to do half again for the real thing! By the end of it our legs and feet were tired but we feel much more confident to make it to the finish line on 24th June! I just felt sorry for whoever was sat next to Sam on his train back to Leeds…

Kate – IntoUniversity Nottingham East

‘Sharing Success’

An electronic introduction to Adil Mehmood, a Year 12 student from Bluecoat Academy. Adil first joined IntoUniversity in 2014 at the Nottingham Central Centre, seeking support with preparing for his A-level exams. He was initially confused about his future options, however having worked 1:1 with centre staff, has been able to identify a range of possible career pathways.

Last year, Adil faced his biggest challenge yet. Despite being very academically able, he experienced extreme stress and anxiety during exams, which impacted his results to the extent that he was unable to continue at his sixth form. IntoUniversity worked closely with Adil and his family to combat these nervous episodes and restore his self-belief. Remaining determined to succeed, staff supported Adil in his transition to another sixth form where he would re-sit the year, and begin a new course of A-levels in different subjects.

Demonstrating great resilience, Adil has adopted strategies to overcome the angst that once masked his academic ability, resulting in a much calmer approach to exams and a significant increase in confidence. Consequently, he has since identified finance as the field best suited to his skill base, commenting that

With the help of IntoUniversity teachers I was successful for the interview stage of the University of Sheffield’s Access scheme, all the staff were so supportive – it was mostly down to them that I was granted a place.”

Adil hopes to be the first generation in his family to go to university: “I am working towards studying Economics at university – preferably Sheffield, to then go on to becoming a stockbroker.” Staff have every confidence that Adil will achieve his goals and look forward to congratulating him on many more future successes along the way!

‘Some Paths Aren’t Discovered Without Getting Lost’

Today marked a team training effort out in the Peak District, whereby a group of IntoUniversity staff and friends set out to accomplish a 10 mile hike of Kinder Scout. Beginning in Edale, all appeared to go swimmingly as we meandered through the quaint little village, in-between farmhouses and over the rolling hills.


Before long we reached and accomplished one Jacob Marshall’s Ladder – steps supposedly ‘manicured’ into the hillside to make it easier to climb. A milestone in every sense of the word, we took to our packed lunches in celebration of this small victory.


From here (we think) is where things went a little pear shaped. Now, very tenuous directions led to vague landscape markers, with passers by becoming increasingly sparse. Having received a third opinion it was confirmed we’d veered well off route towards the neighboring village of Hayfield.


Pressing on through our 10th mile, we breathed a sigh of relief when eventually arriving at The Sportsman pub, where we were reassured ‘this happens all the time’ (God’s honest truth). But what’s a practice walk without lessons well learnt? So here we share with you our top tips:

What’s a trig point? – Not an ideal question mid-hike. Learn the lingo.  

When it comes to navigational back up, old school FTW. The once trusted iPhone is dependable for nothing but selfies when experiencing intermittent signal.

Never underestimate Mother Nature. She whips up a keen breeze at the top, making gloves, snug hoods & tight fitting hats absolute essentials whatever the weather.    

Although sometimes tempting to follow the herd, the Ibex Mountain Goat’s approach to scaling sheer climbs is not advisable. Trust your instinct and take it at your own pace. 

‘No Pain, No Gain (so they say)’

Hi everyone! I’m Jenny, one of the IntoUniversity Leeds East staff, and on 24th June I’ll be walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks for our charity. I’d say that I’m a fairly positive and proactive person and usually up for trying new things but walking really isn’t my forte! I was completing some initial training in London when it was first mentioned that the Leeds and Nottingham teams were taking on this grueling challenge and I questioned why anyone would volunteer to do anything so ridiculously difficult. As part of the new January 2017 staff intake I prayed that it would be too late to sign up, however when a fellow newbie asked if we could still get involved she was enthusiastically reassured that we’d be more than welcome .. news that made me physically sink in my seat.

Whilst settling into the new role I soon learned that everyone from both the Leeds centres, (apart from Rosie Kenwood who is expecting the arrival of her baby), was participating. Without any physical reason not to take part in the challenge (aside from the sheer fear of putting my body through the pain) my reasons against taking part were looking weak. Since I’d just started a new job, the pressure of making a good impression on my team and the realisation that I’d never accomplished a physical challenge before, along with the reassurance that I would feel “a great sense of achievement on completion”, I agreed to join in with the madness.

When I told my dad that I’d signed up for the event he was unreservedly alarmed. This conversation made it all a bit more real and I decided that if I was going to do this then I needed to begin training. Myself and my colleague joined the gym where we started off with Zumba but have now progressed to a step class in serious preparation for walking 24 miles in 12 hours!

With less than 2 months to go I’ve decided to embrace the challenge and in an attempt to reduce the pain on the day, have decided to complete a couple of horribly hard walks ahead of the main event. On Bank Holiday Monday my Dad took me out to the Yorkshire Dales where we completed a 12 mile walk in five and a half hours (see the photo of myself at the summit of Buckden Pike). I’m also joining my Leeds and Nottingham colleagues in a group practise walk in the Peak District where we’ll be taking on Kinder Scout. My first practise walk left me sun burnt and unable to move, but I’m sure that things can only improve…

Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes!


‘Robin Hood and his Merry (Wo)men’

Some of our Nottingham representatives ventured outside of Sherwood Forest to complete the Matlock Bath, High Tor and Heights of Abraham circuit. Greeted with blue skies and sunshine, it proved the perfect day to practice their pacing.

With no sign of the Sheriff our troops relaxed with a well deserved beverage on completion of the 7 mile Derbyshire route.


‘Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls’

Hello! My name’s Laura and I’m part of the IntoUniversity team based at Leeds South. Having been rather sluggish in my approach to training so far it was about time I was served a kick up the backside, and where better to receive some much needed motivation, than from our students…

Throughout January-March of this year, many 16-18 year olds across the IntoUniversity network were carefully crafting applications and polishing up their interview techniques for a chance to receive a place on an Outward Bound Canada Discovery Course. What’s that? In short – the adventure of a lifetime!

Supported by the Stuart Horne Foundation 6 of our students were awarded a fully funded trip to Canada where they will take part in a unique expedition, designed to teach resilience through a series of physically and mentally challenging excursions.

It was during a discussion with one of the successful applicants that I was given a gentle reminder of why I’d signed up to take part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks event. Although that isn’t to say that the two experiences are directly comparable – the student was a 16 year old female flying solo 2330 miles across the world, to an unfamiliar country, to camp, hike and kayak in the wilderness with a group of completely new people!

That being said, the flood of apprehension in that initial ‘I’m really doing this’ moment, we had both experienced. The sporadic rush of nerves at the thought of leaving our comfort zones was a feeling that we shared. But the flurries of excitement to eventually say “I’ve done it!” we agreed makes the journey most worthwhile. And in this instance I found myself reaffirming the importance of stretching oneself, engaging in new experiences and taking opportunities to learn about, well, you! – (approaches we often aim to foster within our students).

So it’s here I arrived at the conclusion that I’d better get my butt into gear because I’d hate to look back and think that I’d taken on a challenge half-heartedly, especially whilst these young people model courage so admirably. The following weekend I set out on my first practise hike, (was yet to purchase hiking boots), but decided there was no better test than diving in at the deep end with the biggest of the Yorkshire peaks; Whernside.


After a number of tactical pauses to admire the views, I completed the route with a smile on my face having genuinely enjoyed 4 hours of complete tranquility (discounting the pounding of my heart in the latter stages of the incline).


[Confession time] I still remain a fair weather walker, but do seize any sign of blue sky as a chance to explore both the outdoors, and my own capabilities. Having officially upped my game I’m now the proud owner of a brand-spanking-new pair of hiking boots which I’m looking forward to taking for a spin this coming weekend – watch this space!


‘Making The Dream Work’

As a continually growing team of fundraisers it is becoming increasingly more difficult to catch us all in the same place at the same time, making our quest for a good photo opportunity nigh on impossible! Therefore after some delay, I bring to you [most] of our IntoUniversity staff representatives that will be taking on the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge!

However, this paints only a fraction of the picture, as this lovely lot will be joined by so many other kind souls willing to endure the mother of all leg days in recognition of a great cause. With a grand total of forty team members so far, we’re filled with every confidence of achieving our fundraising goal, but more importantly are so hugely grateful for the support we are receiving – thank you.


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