27 June 2014
Saturday 7th June saw members of Scientific Services from the North and South join forces in the Lake District to take part in WaterAid′s 200 Peak Challenge.
The aim of this annual event is to get people to climb the 200 highest peaks in the UK and Ireland on the same day. The teams made the climb in order to raise money for WaterAid who help the 884 million people across the world who don′t have access to safe drinking water and the 2.6 billion who don′t have access to adequate sanitation.
Glorious sunshine greeted the intrepid hikers as they converged on Great Langdale campsite near Ambleside the day before the attempt on the summits. Memories of battling through Friday motorway traffic were soon forgotten when BBQs were lit and G&T′s were poured. Saturday morning however brought blackened skies and heavy clouds overhead. The peaks, although still visible, looked more like the mountains of Mordor than the previous days′ lush green, Wordsworthian, rolling hills. Not to be deterred, waterproofs were donned and the teams began their ascent. The Northern Team tackling the 2300ft Pavey Ark with the Southern Team climbing the Pike of Stickle - also 2300ft.
The team from Essex and Suffolk had Dan Wilson, Asset Manager, as their expedition leader. Dan, fresh from his WaterAid trek in the mountains of Nepal, was the perfect choice to head the group. However all of Dan′s knowledge and experience couldn′t prevent the team from getting lost three times... on the way to the foot of the mountain.
Torrential rain and slippery conditions made the climbs difficult but within a couple of hours walking, the summits were conquered. Soggy photos were snapped and cockles were warmed with medicinal nips of Scotch from hip flasks. Laments of beautiful views lost to clouds were shared. Everyone soaked to the skin, agreed that waterproofs were not worthy of the name.
As the descents were started, both teams, obvious gluttons for punishment, decided to also climb the nearby peak of Harrison Pike. The teams met in the mist on the mountain side, like two long lost, Berghaus clad, tribes emerging from the low cloud, bonded by drenched misery. It was quickly decided that the reunion would be best continued in the pub at the foot of the mountain as visibility worsened and the downpour showed no signs of relenting. The climb down the mountain became a race towards real ale and dry socks. The mist clearing as the far distant Sticklebarn pub grew larger with every step. As the ground began to level out and the grass and rocks under foot turned to Tarmac the target was finally reached. As (not so) waterproofs were stripped off and pints of local beer disappeared rapidly, soaked and exhausted the teams reflected on their achievement. Would we do it again next year - of course, it′s for charity. The sun then came out.
The Northern Team consisted of; Kathryn Buist, John Coulson (Water Quality North), Mark Woolley, Laura Wilkinson, Matty Atkin (Wastewater Compliance) and Rob Barker (formerly of Scientific Services, now Commercial Accounts Manager). Mark′s son Josh also made the trip.
The Southern Team were; Mark Williams and Ian Corbett (Water Quality South), joined by Liz Scott and Jenny Abel (Communications), Alex Mueller and Kim Wallis (Conservation) and Dan Wilson (Asset Planning). Lynne Williams and Monty the dog (not of NWG).
The coming together of the teams was a particularly happy reunion for Water Quality Support Scientist, Ian Corbett who relocated to Essex in 2011 after working for Northumbrian Water for 11 years. "It was great to see some of the old gang again, even Mark Woolley".
The teams headed back to their respective corners of the country with heavy legs and damp boots but happy that their efforts had raised a few hundred quid for WaterAid.
If you feel inspired to take part in next years event and raise money for WaterAid why not put together a team? For more information of the WaterAid 200 Challenge and the amazing work that the charity does in 27 countries across the world visit their website here.
A huge congratulations to all involved.