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Students tackle Cross Lakes Challenge

Back in June, four students from the Grenfell-Baines School of Architecture, Construction and Environment took part in the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Novus Cross Lakes Challenge in the Lake District. 

Edward Clegg, Matthew Lakey, Mark Ruscoe and Daniel Tempest, all first year Building Surveyors and Quantity Surveyors were given the opportunity to represent the University in this challenging endurance event which involved kayaking across the largest natural lake in England, cycling and fell running to the Summit of Helvellyn.

After a briefing the previous evening, and a chance to get to know the rest of the 24 participants, which included teams from other CIOB accredited Universities and young construction professionals, Team UCLan were tucked up in their tents at the Distant Horizons outdoor activity centre in the Ullswater Valley, by 10pm, ready for the adventures that lay ahead on Saturday.

The day consisted of 12 hours of endurance activities starting at 7am with a drive from base camp to the southern shore of Lake Windermere at Newby Bridge to commence the Kayaking. As they drove south for 44.5 Km the realisation hit the team that over the course of the day, they would be making their way back to camp using only the power of paddle, pedal and foot, a distance which was increasing seeming a long way behind.

The Kayaking got underway at 8 am, and after a short briefing the team were off across the lake. It was a beautiful sunny day, which was a relief after the blustery weather of the previous days, and Lake Windermere was calm and beautifully picturesque. The 17 Km crossing took four hours, after which time the shoulder muscles were complaining loudly, and it was a relief to see shore and a welcome food and water stop.

A quick change into dry clothes and the team were off on bikes through the town of Ambleside and out into open country for a gruelling 1 hour uphill climb up to the changeover point of Dunmail Raise. Speeding into second place, Mark Ruscoe (on a basic hybrid bike) was not only able to beat off stiff competition from competitors on professional carbon-fibre road bikes but was also heroic in his trip back down and up the hill to round up several stragglers who had turned the wrong way coming out of Ambleside.

The final leg of the challenge was a 5 hour hike or scramble up to the summit of Helvellyn, an ascent of 1019m. This gave the more experienced players the chance to fell run and challenge themselves further. Ruscoe and Tempest and the overall winning pair (from Kier Construction) were experienced enough to take this on, whilst Clegg and Lakey stuck with the bulk of the teams on a slower but still exhausting 45 degree hike. Descent was down the terrifying Swirrel Edge which is a notoriously dangerous arête leading off the summit with spiked rocks reminiscent of a Harry Potter set. The team of Ruscoe and Tempest came in second, approximately 45 minutes in front of the main pack of “hikers”.

After a well-earned hot shower and change of clothes, the evening was concluded with a hog roast and social event, which gave everyone chance to share stories from the day, and chat with other built environment students and professionals. The Novus groups’ aim is to bring together like-minded young construction professionals, and this was a great time to meet guys from big construction companies such as Carillion, Kier and Wates, and also to chat to people who had recently completed Construction Degrees at other CIOB affiliated Universities. Team UCLan were given great insights by the Winning London Novus team, who had both just graduated as Building Surveyors from Kingston University and shared tips with us as to how to approach our second and third years and what they would do differently.

Team UCLan would like to extend thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable event to our Dean of School: Professor Akintola Akintoye, our Course Leader: John Ashton-Yamnikar, and to Barbara Brown, Hazel Yorke and Andy Johnson of CIOB. The day was challenging, great fun, and helped us meet like-minded people. We look forward to seeing new friends at the social events and CPD sessions later in the year.