Reaseheath students make a wheely good impression for Tour of Britain

Reaseheath College sports performance, adventure sports and public services students made a special effort to mark British Cycling’s Tour of Britain by getting involved in a giant piece of aerial artwork alongside the competitors’ route.

About 80 students formed the moving wheels of a 100 foot long bicycle laid out on a field opposite the college’s main entrance on the Worleston Road, just outside Nantwich. The event was timed to coincide as the elite athletes, who included Sir Bradley Wiggins, passed the college during Stage Three of the prestigious road cycling event.

Liam Salt, a Reaseheath Sports Performance course manager and keen cyclist himself, organised the aerial artwork after seeing similar events marking premier international competitions abroad.

He said: “This was the students’ first day at college and it was a great opportunity for them to take part in a team building activity with a difference. Reaseheath’s Farm manager Mark Roue kindly gave us permission to use the field and also allowed us to use plastic haylage wrap to make the bike frame.

“Awareness of all types of sport is growing thanks to the Rio Olympics and it was a great way for the students to be part of a premier event. The aerial artwork looked amazing and was an exciting activity to mark the race as it passed through Cheshire.”

Watch our video to see the aerial artwork in action!

Image header caption: Students from Reaseheath sports department form a giant cycle as riders in the Tour of Britain pass the college’s entrance

Reaseheath graduation opens doors to careers success

Graduates from Reaseheath College received degrees designed to boost their careers at a ceremony in the centre of Nantwich.

Dressed in gowns and mortar boards, almost 150 graduates spilled out of St Mary’s Church to celebrate with Britain’s best known Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson OBE, who was guest speaker.

The ceremony marked the achievement of students who had completed degrees in agricultural science, equine science, food technology, garden and landscape design, engineering, countryside management, adventure sports management and rural events management, all delivered in partnership with Harper Adams University.

Animal management and science students on degree programmes validated by the University of Chester (UoM) graduated alongside other UoM students at Chester Catherdral  in November.

Describing the Nantwich ceremony as one of the highlight of the academic year, Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David emphasised that the graduates would see a massive return on their financial and emotional investment. An independent analysis had shown that £40,000 spent on course fees and living expenses would secure an additional £250,000 over the span of a career. Nearly 90% of Reaseheath graduates who completed degrees last year were in related employment within six months of completing their course on an average starting salary of £21,000.

Degrees gained at Reaseheath College were specialist, technical qualifications which enabled students to gain both knowledge and the necessary skills and competencies to carve out a successful career.

In such a competitive jobs market it was important that higher education (HE) programmes were delivered and validated by high quality, well respected institutions. Reaseheath’s own HE programmes had recently been inspected by the Quality Assurance Agency and had received fantastic report, equivalent to an ‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted.

Reaseheath continued to invest in specialist facilities and resources which would give students the competitive edge in the jobs market. Over £40 million had been spent on facilities which were recognised as among the best in the country. A further £10 million would be invested this year into a national centre for Food Futures and Environmental Management and this would be followed by a £13 million spend on a 200 room residential building and an extension to the Higher Education Centre, both to be completed for September 2016.

Reaseheath currently had 700 students enrolled on degree courses. A significant number were mature students or were studying while working with the support of their employers. One of its most successful programmes was the Eden Project, which offers dairy technologists the chance to gain a globally recognised Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology. The qualification had been developed in close partnership with industry and was aimed at meeting demand for future managers.

Although academic progress was important, Meredydd pointed out that many graduates had helped to organise social events and charity fund raising, which last year contributed £12,000 to worthy charities.

Congratulating the graduates, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who studied politics and now has a seat in the House of Lords, said that education was vital and led to wider choices. Her key advice was to try something new and not be put off by failure. Although she had been dedicated to wheelchair racing from the age of 12 she did not win for four years and this had taught her how to train and be committed.

To find out more about our degree programmes please visit the Higher Education pages on our website.

For more photos from the day visit our Facebook page.


Falling for Adventure

Adventure Sports degree students spent the day jumping off a rock face to practice taking ‘lead falls’ when climbing on ‘Trad’ routes.

Mountaineering Instructor, Simon Wells explained “Trad or traditional climbing is where the climber places removable pieces of metal in the natural cracks in the rock then attaches them to the specially made climbing rope. If the climber falls they fall as far as that piece of metal plus the amount of rope. It can be very scary!”

“The psychological pressure of the fear of falling is immense. When you are lead climbing on trad gear your mind may focus on your gear, worrying if it will hold a fall. You need to be focusing on the climb. But that fear can make your hands over grip then your movements become stiff and jerky and your climbing deteriorates. The pressure of the fear of falling can make it really hard to climb at the top of your game.”

“As you can see from the picture we put an orange rope above each climber, this was secured to the top of the crag and operated by an experienced climber. This allows the climber to ‘lead’ the climb placing pieces of gear. At each one they weigh it, then jump down a little way, then finally they take a full lead fall onto the gear.”

“It gave the climbers real confidence to know the gear they placed could really do the job. It also gave them the chance to practice falling and using the ‘land like a cat’ technique we taught during the indoor climbing module.”

When you trust your gear you can climb at a whole new level. But it is vitally important to learn in a safe way with an experienced instructor who can help you reduce the risk to an acceptable level, and use their coaching skills to get the most out of each fall.







Award in Leadership

Senior Instructor, Mike Ryder from Action Centres Whitemoor Lake assessed BTEC Adventure Sports Students for their Award in Assisting in Basic Expedition Leadership. Mike who did his BTEC in Adventure Sports used his experience of leading teams of Adventure Instructors to help the students develop their leadership skills.

Mike reckons that by coming to Reaseheath and grabbing all the extra courses on offer he had a huge head start in his career, getting to Senior Instructor at least five years earlier than his peers. The Award in Assisting in Basic Expedition Leadership is just one of 11 extra Adventure Sports Coaching courses that Reaseheath run. This week alone saw a Climbing Wall Award Assessment for 6 students, all of whom passed and a British Canoe Union Level 2 Coaching course.

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Climbing Success!

As part of the Professional Courses at Reaseheath Adventure Sports 6 students passed their Climbing Wall Award assessment (CWA). Having already completed the two day training and been developing their group work skills it was a nervous day for the successful candidates, many of whom have gained work in Climbing Walls on the strength of their CWA.

Simon Wells, who co-ordinates the Professional Program said, “We try to keep assessments as calm and relaxed as possible. Candidates bring enough stress of their own, even though all 6 candidates were strong and easily meet the CWA standard they all went away having learnt a little bit more about teaching climbing.”

“Unusually the group was all current Reaseheath students, normally we have a few former students and members of the public. We used Awesome Walls, Stockport for the assessment, with six of our students using the colleges 12m high lead wall would have been limiting their chance to show off their skills.”

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Olympian Kayaking

Leo Hoare  from Getafix Coaching is working with Reaseheath Adventure Sports Students and members of the public to deliver the British Canoe Union Level 2 Coach training. Richard Hathway, Lecture in Adventure Sports and BCU tutor is working alongside Leo and says “It’s a real privilege to have a top coach like Leo running our courses, not only do our students get the BCU Level 2 at over 40% off, but they have one of the best trainers in the UK. Just to get on this course they have to have done their BCU 3 Star and Level 1 coaching course. Luckily for our students these are a standard part of our practical courses. Getting these opportunities for our students is what sets our Reaseheath Adventure Sports courses apart.”

Leo’s commitment to paddling and coaching runs through his life from competing at an Olympic level to instructing kayaking at the National Outdoor Centre, Plas Y Brenin he brings that passion to his courses.

Even the wild Welsh winter in his home by the River Dee didn’t stop him getting to Reaseheath “Yes, the road was closed due to snow drifts”, calmly explained Leo, “so I abandoned the trailer of kayaks in a drift, as I know Reaseheath has several fleets of boats. Lucky I was in a 4 x 4 and proper tyres so I could still get through to run these course.”

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Qualified for Adventure

The last week of the winter term is packed full of extra extreme sports qualifications for Reaseheath Adventure Students.

The diploma courses and foundation degree’s are an important part of how we help you to succeed in the adventure industry. You need extra qualifications to run climbing, kayaking and canoeing sessions professionally. Reaseheath Adventure Sports is a regional centre for running these professional courses for the British Canoe Union, Mountain Training Board and other extreme sports. In just one week a BCU level 2 course is  running, as well as a Climbing Wall Award Training, a Climbing Wall Award Assessment and Single Pitch Award Training.

In the summer term Archery Leader, Bushcraft and Outdoor First Aid courses are running alongside BCU level 1’s, Climbing Wall Awards, Single Pitch Awards and Summer Mountain Leader training and assessment.

Simon Wells, who co-ordinates all these course and delivers the Mountain Training Board and First Aid commented, “ I don’t know of any other college who runs course’s on this scale, some places promise, then struggle to deliver, we are having to put on extra courses to meet demand from our students and the public. Our students can claim up to 60% funding for these courses, so not only more types of course, more often but also at a lower price.”

“You need these extra courses to work in the adventure industry,” explained Simon. “ That’s why we run them, we train you to climb, paddle and navigate as part of your course. Then when you have the necessary experience we run the extra course.”

“I can’t tell you which other local colleges send their staff to our courses, but you would be surprised at who learns alongside our students then goes back to their own college to teach it! Some local outdoor companies are almost totally staffed by our current and former students because of the huge extra programme of professional courses we run” Simon added.

If you want a list of courses we always welcome suitably experienced members of the public, but only Reaseheath students can claim the 60% funding.

Contact Simon on 01270 613218 or email for more information on our professional qualifications.




Multi-pitch climbing in the Peak District

‘Multi-pitch’  is often viewed as one of the most technical aspects of climbing, involving complex rope work and route finding. Multi-pitch climbing routes can take all day, even several days in the Alps. So learning this skill is a real landmark for climbers. Stance management, hanging belays and just stopping the ropes getting jammed are all essential thing to master.

At Reaseheath students who have completed the other climbing courses get to train in multi-pitch climbing. Do they go to a vast Welsh crag with a two hour walk in? Or maybe the north face of Ben Nevis, which is Alpine in scale? At the very least the high mountain crags of the Lakes?

No they go to Windgather, in the Peak District!

At 9m metres high this seems an odd place to develop the skills destined for the brutal North Faces in the alps, or remote Norwegian Fjords. Chris Tym, Mountaineering instructor explains.

“We developed a training programme we call ‘Micro-Pitching ©’. The hardest part of multi-pitch climbing is sorting out the rope work and managing your belay stances, particularly when you are on a hanging belay. Students have already done an Introduction to Outdoor Climbing, or Developing Outdoor Climbing Skills courses, depending on what experience they already have. They may have even done our Mental Training for Climbers workshop. So we can focus on the core  multi-pitch skills.”

“On a small crag like Windgather we can have a number of pairs or three’s climbing, setting up stances and being easily coached by myself. We can create all the problems they might realistically meet and guide them through the solutions. They learn more than if we worked on a large multi-pitch crag, where coaching would be very difficult and most of the day taken up with long pitches of climbing. Today each climbing team has had the equivalent of huge day out, but with constant on hand help.”

climbing adventure sports

climbing adventure sports

climbing adventure sports

A Degree of High Adventure

Adventure Sports Degree students ran a High Ropes sessions for a school group as part of their qualification to become instructors.

Degree Course Manager, Simon Nortcliffe commented, “we have all the facilities and equipment of a major outdoor centre; this is just one of the ways we make our students more employable. Our academic programme complements the practical programme, we have all the coaching qualifications built into the practical’s as well such as Mountain Leader, British Canoe Union Coaching 1 and 2, Single Pitch and Climbing Wall Award are offered each term with up to a 60% discount. The High Ropes sign off is a free course we offer.”

Judging by the smiles, laughter and the odd scream the visiting school group enjoyed it as much as the Degree Student Instructors, who appreciate that this may well lead onto paid work with Reaseheath.

“We don’t offer everyone a part time job,” confirmed Simon, “but virtually everyone being assessed to work on the High Ropes course today has done paid work for Reaseheath and this extra course will give them even more opportunities.”







Expedition to the Haunted Mountain

Legends of an ancient ghost, -11 Centregrade and 60mph winds didn’t put Adventure Sports students off their Winter Skills trip to the Cairngorms, Scotland.

Mick Keeling, International Expedition leader, said “Students learnt how to use ice axes and crampons, the snow had refrozen to a solid form we call ‘neve’, meaning a slip on steep ground could be very serious. Ice and steep snow fields meant the really used their new skills. We also looked at winter climbing skills such as bucket seat belays and snow bollards. We even built survival shelters in the snow.”

In the evening the group attended lectures on avalanche detection and rescue at Glenmore Lodge, the National Outdoor Training Centre. They also looked a winter navigation and how to choose routes with reduced avalanche risk.

Chris Tym, Mountaineering Instructor, who led the weeklong trip, took a team to Ben Machdui, the UK’s second highest summit.

“The summit is meant to be home to a giant grey spectre, called Fearlas Mor in Gaelic or the Big Grey Man in English. Climbers report a feeling of dread and fear in his presence” whispered Chris.

Laughing Chris stated, “I’ve worked around these mountains for years and I have never seen or felt anything. It’s a tough and remote peak, possibly the wildest place in the UK, I guess that might play on climbers minds?”

See for more information on the Fearlas Mor!



Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park