Skiers Cumbrian Cycle Challenge raises over £48,000

The Skiers Cumbrian Cycle Challenge breaks Switch180 records by raising £48,000, the largest amount raised through an event solely organised by our supporters!

On June 4th, a group of wonderful Switch180 supporters came together to tackle a 113-mile cycle challenge round the Lake District, raising an incredible £48,000 to support our work. This is the largest amount that any third-party event has ever raised for us! Incredible.

Cycle Challenge

Huge thank you to the team: James Palmer-Tomkinson, Michael Oesterlin, Mark Motion, Nicholas Morgan, Crispin Orr, Sam Palmer-Tomkinson, Jonathan Botting, Claire Innes, Colin Mathews, Edward Sinclair-Killwick, Cleeves Palmer, Simon Hoskyns, Jennifer Brydon, Alex Howard, Andy Miles and Serena Miles. Your support will have a big impact on many young lives.

cycle challenge

Organised and led by team captain James Palmer-Tomkinson from PT Ski, in just 10 hours the group conquered the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose. All in all there was 4000m of ascent and Britain’s toughest climb (Hardknott Pass) with gradients of up to 30% coming at 94 miles.

This was a massive cycle challenge and the team spent months in training. If you can, please do support them by donating here, thank you.

We asked James to write a few words about the challenge, here’s what he had to say:

“Last winter was PT Ski’s 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion we thought that rather than celebrating with a party we would instead take the opportunity to fundraise for Switch180, with the idea of raising enough to support 10 young people through their programme Snow Camp. Snow Camp has resonated with us ever since we first came across them a few years ago, using the sport that we are passionate about to make life changing differences for young people.

cycle challenge

The challenge we alighted upon was a cycling one, but the team were all skiers. A quick internet search told us that the Fred Whitton Cycle Challenge in the Lake District was one of Europe’s toughest sportives and so we somewhat boldly, and perhaps rashly, decided to base our route on that. With 115 miles to pedal encompassing nearly 12000ft of ascent, and Britain’s hardest climb (Hardknott Pass) coming after 90 long miles we knew training would be essential. However it is fair to say that London and the Home Counties do not quite have the topography to mirror what was in store and our 40-80 mile rides around Hampshire, Berkshire and the Surrey Hills lulled us into a false sense of security. Two weeks before the ride a few of us had a very hilly (and wet!) day in Dorset which was the wake up call everyone needed and this precipitated a dramatic and much needed escalation in our training regimes. There were genuine concerns that some of the team might not make it round the course.

I was joined in this endeavour by 15 other cyclists (and 8 supporters) and we checked into the gorgeous Victorian House Hotel in Grasmere the day before the ride; Grasmere being the start and finish of the ride. There was nervous anticipation at dinner and it was noticeable that several were not touching beer or wine!

cycle challenge

The following morning we had a team photo at 7.30 and then headed off in small groups of 3 or 4 riders, with my cohort being at the back. The weather was on our side and we were in good spirits as we headed through Ambleside and alongside Lake Windermere. Then the uphill was upon us as we headed up and over Kirkstone Pass and we knew the challenge was on! Next up was a more sedate (everything’s relative!) Park Brow which headed up from the shores of Ullswater and then through Keswick, past Derwent Water and on to our first big test, Honister Pass. Out of nowhere the benign road turned into a 25% monster, sapping our energy and resolve, the smell of burning rubber from a recent passing car lingering in the air.

Mountain cycle

On the other side of the pass, as we approached Buttermere, our lovely support team were waiting for us with much needed sustenance, cold drinks and moral support. The rest was brief and we were soon heading up Newlands Pass (where I got a puncture!) and its fearsome 25% final right turn. The scenery was stunning if we cared to look at it. Whinlatter Pass followed and then Cold Fell before we pulled in at Gosforth where the support team had sausage rolls and energy bars ready to prepare us for the most brutal part of the ride. Bodies were aching, it had been physically draining, we had done 80 miles and we knew Hardknott Pass stood between us and the finish.

Gradient Cycle

It showed no mercy. One of the team encountered severe mechanical failure with her crankshaft between the pedals snapping with the force of pedalling (sadly meaning the end of her ride). I toppled over near the top after stopping to allow a car to pass. One way or another everyone made it over and then had to navigate the terrifyingly steep descent on the other side. I remained at the top waiting for two of the team who were dealing with a puncture at the bottom, but with no mobile signal I couldn’t get any updates and in the end I had to rely on the support team to make sure that they were ok.


I carried on solo for the remainder, over Wrynose Pass, then Blea Tarn and thankfully the last 25% gradient sign. Then it was a gentle cruise back to Grasmere where beer and pizza were waiting, as well as most of the other riders. Everyone was elated at their achievement, for nearly all of us this was the biggest ride we had ever done. The last 2 riders came in about half an hour after me and I would love to say the party went on long into the night, but that is not what happens when you have just cycled at the limit for nearly 10 hours!


As a ps, I just want to pay tribute to our amazing support team – Sos, Edwina, Julie, Joanna, Anna, Carey, B and Lizzy, they were amazing, playing us with drinks and energy bars around the course, cheering us up hills and rescuing us when we had problems. Without them we just would never have got round.

Support team

I also want to thank the Victorian House Hotel who have kindly helped sponsor the team, and also Meriski and Alpine Answers who have also both supported and rode in the challenge.”

Hotel Cycle Pic

Switch180’s Founder and Director Dan Charlish said:

“Congratulations to the whole team on such a successful event and thank you all for your fantastic fundraising efforts supporting our work with young people.

We are extremely grateful for the support, especially as we move towards relaunching Snow Camp this summer and being able to support young people face to face once again. At the same time, the new online mental health programmes for young people we launched over the last year continue to grow, and there is more need than ever in this area. Your support will also help us develop this work further too. Thank you.

The effort that both cyclists and support team have put into this event really means a huge amount to us at the charity. The Covid challenges you must have faced only make it all the more impressive. Thank you all for stepping up and joining James to make such a difference. I know there must be some tired legs out there still, but we are hugely grateful for the support – especially at this time.

I would hope that as things continue to open up, we could even meet up at some point – I would love to be able to say thank you in person. But in the meantime, thank you once again for this wonderful support.”