Willow Ward’s Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge

Walking is great for health in mind and body: the Willow Ward team at Sussex Partnership took walking to the next level…

Willow Ward’s Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge

The importance of team bonding

Stephen Shephard, Senior clinical Specialist Support worker  on Willow Ward shared with us why the team decided to take on the Three Peak Challenge.

“The team at Willow ward have been going from strength to strength over the last few years; the team dynamics are not only positively affecting the ward but are now spreading to outside the work place. One shift we got chatting about getting more active and we soon got onto the topic of taking on a walking challenge. It wasn’t long before we decided to take on the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge.”

Raising money for a good cause too…

Steve Shepard, Laura Ferguson, Rebecca Francis, Emma Harrington, Kirsty Purdie, Abi Pike, Charlie Hole, Abigail Fenton, Damien Hilder and Keith Priest

The team decided to fund raise through Sussex Partnerhip’s charity Head’s On, with the aim of raising money to support a new service called Health in Mind. The service is free and run through the NHS for anyone in East Sussex experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties such as stress, anxiety and depression.

The idea snowballed and before long more colleagues were signing up and the word was spreading across the Hellingly Centre, with a whatsapp group set up and the training walks scheduled.

Stephen explains, “November 2018 our training walks began, taking on the Long man of Wilmington in the snow first thing in the morning starting off with a small 9 mile walk. Over the months we took on walks over the seven sisters, beachy head, Hastings, Rye, Battle, with the final training walk being a long 20 miles in glorious March sunshine starting from Cuckmere river all the way to Eastbourne seafront and back again! Despite some members of the team not joining us on the main challenge plenty of the team joined us on the training walks, supporting us through the whole process! We got the patients involved on the ward by helping us to plan two bake sales; they helped with baking and selling the cakes in the unit shop for all the wards to donate money to our charity. Over the two bake sales we managed to raise £267!”

Taking on the challenge

A hearty breakfast of porridge set the team up on the big day, with the challenge kicking off at 7am in Horton-in-Ribblesdale village where they met with their guide Jack.

“Then we were off, first peak Pen-y-Ghent threw us in at the deep end, having to scramble on our hands and knees to reach the summit! Looking out over the Yorkshire landscape on the route ahead it dawned on us all what we were in for. There was a long 4 hour walk to the next peak where the team had a chance to chat and joke about what we had got ourselves into. The second peak, Whernside is the tallest of the peaks standing at 736 metres. This beast of a peak hit the team hard, it was the longest climb at the hottest point of the day, this is where the team split in to mini teams as some charged up to the top and others had to stop and break several times. We were walking for hours and the people at the summit still looked like ants, it seemed like it would never end! “

“On approaching Ingleborough, the final peak we were greeted with a ‘lovely’ surprise of a near vertical climb of about 200 metres up. Battling through fatigue, pain and some with a fear of heights, we scrambled to the top. Unable to look down or up for fear of freezing, clinging to the mountain for dear life, our lovely guide Jack took the brunt of everyone’s fear guiding us where to place our feet and the best route the take. “

“Relief fell over the team after we’d achieved that and the final 5 miles back to the village were the longest 5 miles of the day, the team were exhausted , our feet were sore and the walk back included the roughest terrain yet; sharp rocks, uneven paths, and slippery mud, we were all desperate for a bit of grass to walk on. 11 hours and 50 minutes after we set off we finally reached the village and the pub!”

“We were all over the moon to have made it, and although we all ached and were struggling to walk it was a massive achievement for us all! This challenge has not only brought together all parts of our team including nurses, support workers, psychologists and domestic staff, it has strengthened our bond and has only made our working dynamics even better! It is a memory that we will all cherish and we are already planning our next adventure.”

If you would like to get walking with your team why not make our ‘take a walk’ pledge?

Stephen and the team are planning further challenges in March 2020,  looking to complete the Welsh 3 peaks  in just 16 hours and in June 2020 the national three peaks challenge too. Training will start with walks over the Southdowns in the  new year. So if anyone else at Sussex Partnership fancies taking on a walking challenge this could be your opportunity, Stephen and the team welcome new walkers!

Or you can request the Sussex Partnership ‘Step Up Challenge’ info to take on one of three virtual routes over 12 weeks – just email hello@carewithoutcarbon.org.