For readers who would like to know something about me:
I’m now 28 and live near Penrith, Cumbria with my super family. I have a teenaged sister named Martha who is autistic. Martha is not in mainstream education, requires full-time care & is unlikely ever to be able to live independently. Ensuring people like my sister are still able to be valued members of society is something for which I will always strive. My parents are strong resilient people, but mum juggles a full-time career as head teacher of a small village school with the demands of daily life, whilst dad has limited freedom. Families like mine need support & understanding. I recognise this, and raising awareness is one of my driving forces.
I grew up & went to school in the Lake District. I performed well academically but had to cope with bullying & other adversity, so I never had the confidence to participate much in sports. Despite this, I’ve always taken my problems to nature, & felt most alive when I’m exposed to its forces. Early inspirations were my great aunt and uncle, who live in the Yorkshire Dales & know the Wainwrights like the backs of their hands. I also saw an exhibition of some of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine’s possessions at Rheged Discovery Centre, which captured my imagination.
After leaving my school in Penrith I went to Oxford University, where I studied English. Whilst there I experienced more problems with self-image, but I just about managed to cope with the work & was proud to achieve a 2:1.
I then completed a postgraduate degree in History from a distance, commuting weekly between Cumbria & Reading as I couldn’t afford the accommodation fees. Whilst doing this I applied for more than 1000 jobs and received only a handful of interviews. The negative impact of this on my self-esteem has been huge, and made me decide to stop allowing others to decide what I am worth. Only I should be able to do that. I spent 2 years volunteering to care for a beautiful garden in the Eden Valley. Anything and everything outdoors is my passion. I also discovered the joys of endurance racing and have competed several times in the gruelling Helvellyn triathlon. During the time when I was volunteering & trying to find a place where I fit, my cousin Jonny, who was 1 year 20 days my senior & also a beloved friend, became ill with malignant melanoma and died just 3 months after his diagnosis. I realised I only have one fragile life & that failing to make the most of what I have been given would be an unforgiveable waste.
So I turned my back on the corporate world. Fascinated with making things grow after a year of death & loss, I re-trained as a gardener. Since then I’ve seen and done so much, and I love that I’m still on this journey. I’ve come to see the value not only in summiting a mountain myself, but in helping others achieve through adventure, so I’ve recently embarked on a career as an outdoors instructor. It’s a joy to me that I can be active and surrounded by nature everyday.
At Jonny’s funeral I acknowledged to myself a dream I’d always had, and promised myself that I would someday stand on top of the world. This journey will be the axle of my life. It’s what I have always wanted, and in my heart, and because of my physical achievements and ability to cope with adversity so far, I know I am capable. You can read about my endurance challenges to date below.
*April 2015: The Lakes 3000s Ascent of the Lake District 3000ers, that is, all the hills that exceed 3000 feet in height, including 55 miles’ cycling between them, over Hardknott & Wrynose Pass. 17 hours.
*May 2015: The Fred Whitton cycle sportive 9 hours 27 minutes.
*October 2015: The National 3 Peaks with a twist Snowdon, Scafell Pike & Ben Nevis linked by 500 miles’ cycling, solo & unsupported in under 100 hours.
*February 2016: Winter ascent of Aneto (3404m) in the Catalonian Pyrenees. The group got to around 3200m and were looking strong, but 100mph winds forced them to turn back.
*June 2016: “Everesting” cycle challenge. Continuously cycling the equivalent vertical height gain to Mt Everest (8848m) in a day. Kate did this by completing ‘reps’ of Great Dun Fell in the Cumbrian Pennines, which has a road leading right to its summit and entails 5 miles of climbing, with a maximum gradient of 23%. 14 reps of GDF made up an ‘Everest’. Kate was supported in this challenge by a visit from Alan Hinkes OBE, the only British mountaineer to have summited all the world’s fourteen 8000m peaks.
*October 2016: Expedition to the Mont Blanc region. Including climbing classic alpine ledges on the Italian face of Mont Blanc, and a summit attempt on Gran Paradiso.