By Cameron Galloway.

On Saturday 20th April a group of 30 challengers took on YMCA North Tyneside’s Ullswater Challenge. This 22-mile hike around the perimeter of Ullswater started and finished at our Patterdale Estate, tying the beauty of the Lake District back to our community in North Shields. After a short briefing and a group photo, our challengers set off on their 22-mile adventure.

The first section took us towards Howtown, arguably the most challenging part of the route, with rough terrain and some climbs. Luckily the weather was on our side, and our challengers made it to checkpoint one in good time. After passing a waterfall we continued towards Pooley Bridge with the sun shining. This part of the route was much easier although our challengers had to overcome muddy sections and navigate a couple of open fields. Despite this, our challengers kept morale high as they approached Pooley Bridge for lunch.

At Pooley Bridge challengers were greeted by Joanne, our Supported Housing Development Manager, who kindly volunteered with her partner Steven to be our support vehicle for the day. On reflection, waiting in the sun with a coffee does seem like a great idea! After a quick welfare check and some snacks, our challengers were back on their way. 

The section from Pooley Bridge to Aira Force was the longest stretch of the route at around 7 miles long, starting with a climb that is made worse due to the boggy field that challengers have to walk up. The reward is beautiful views of Helvellyn on one side and the whole of Ullswater on the other. As we walked along the route towards Aira Force our challengers were tested both physically and mentally with fatigue settling in and blisters starting to appear. Thanks to the comradery of our challengers and encouragement from walk leaders Connor Fenton, Charlie Mood and Ellie Fowler we made it to Aira Force. 

With the end in sight, we pushed on towards Patterdale Estate, the sun still shining and spirits high. As our challengers approached the end of the hike we reflected on the friendships we’d made and the good that our fundraising efforts would do. We finished the challenge with a drink in hand and a smile on our faces as we sat around the fire pit at Patterdale Estate.

It was an amazing day that will greatly support our cause. We have raised over £4,000 that will go towards our ‘Opportunities for All’ Bursary that will enable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to engage in out-of-school enrichment activities.

I’d like to thank Karen, our Housing Manager for driving the minibus, Joanne for her help as a support car, Cat for her support at Patterdale Estate, Connor, Ellie and Charlie for supporting as walk leads and our amazing challengers who pushed their limits and raised vital funds for the YMCA. Another thank you goes to Martin and the team at the Coop for keeping our challengers fuelled with snacks and water. 

After a great day I’m already excited for our next event. On June 1st our second annual Picnic in the Park event takes place in Northumberland Square. We’ve also got a YMCA Golf Day on August 2nd before the Great North Run in September. If, like me, you love an adventure we have our biggest ever challenge, a trek up North Africa’s highest mountain Mount Toubkal, in October. We have limited spaces remaining and would love to have you join us on a life-changing adventure for a vital cause. For more details please visit our website or drop me an email at

Get Involved

If you want to help raise funds for YMCA North Tyneside, we’ve plenty options for you to get involved in!