Reflections on leaving Derwent Hill

Sue Middleton, is leaving Derwent Hill after 23 years as Operations Manager. She reflects on her time at Derwent Hill.

What’s it been like to work at Derwent Hill?  Sue shares her experiences and feelings about Derwent Hill.
Sue Middleton Bushcraft cooking under a parachute in the woods

It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work at Derwent Hill for the last 23 years.  When I first arrived it certainly wasn’t part of the game plan to stay so long! I’ve been lucky enough to be at the Centre during a period of immense change & development with Derwent Hill moving from a traditional 55 bed Centre to the big, busy and vibrant 109 bed Centre that it is today. We’ve increased the range of what we offer including developing the work in the Training Centre in particular the courses for Nissan Motor Manufacturing.


What has made working at Derwent Hill so special?

The fantastic group of staff at Derwent Hill, the location and most of all the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients ranging in age from 8 to 80 plus, from young people experiencing the joys of learning in the outdoors for the first time to adult groups developing their teamwork & leadership.

The variety of the job has been amazing – days in canoes breaking through the ice on Derwent Water, walking on mountains above the clouds, meeting people from all over Britain & many far flung places and even working for Nissan in Moscow.

Adults enjoying team working on a wet gorge walk session

But it’s not been all about being out and about in the great outdoors; the last few years have seen me “driving a desk” for more of the time but it’s still been an interesting challenge and on the wet and windy days perhaps it’s been a good thing! However it’s not all been easy – the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001 was a difficult time for everyone in Cumbria as was the impact of Storm Desmond in December 2015. Of course like every organisation there have been difficult times – but the impressive thing has been how everyone has pulled together and embraced change & the centre has & will continue to grow and develop.

Looking ahead

Nick Lumb with his young son on a sailing boat on Derwent Water

As I finish I’m confident that Derwent Hill is in good hands and  I know that Nick will do a fantastic job in the Operations Managers role.

Nick Lumb has been a tutor at Derwent Hill for 6 years.  He is a qualified teacher, a member of Cockermouth mountain rescue team and one of the teams major incident team managers.  He is a qualified H&S practitioner (NEBOSH) and runs his own part-time professional photography business.  Nick has a young family and enjoys spending his spare time accompanying them on adventures in the Lake District and beyond.  Fortunately, Nick has lots of energy and he relishes the challenge of his new role.

So it’s exciting times for Derwent Hill and I will leave with great memories!  I am looking forward to spending more time in the hills and sailing in Scotland – and just a bit of part time work locally!

Thanks to everyone who I’ve met or worked with along the way!

Sue on Helvellyn summit with Ullswater in the background