Some notes on Peak Activities Ltd's background & history...


Finance Director - Caroline Jennings BSc PGCE and ROCK LEA (above)


Several of our customers have asked if we would include  some 
"background history" on our company web site, so here we go...

First beginnings : S.E.A.L. GUIDES

In the late 1970's a small group of enthusiastic trainers, Geologists, 
post-graduate Ecologists & Foresters led by  Iain Jennings and Sue
Garwood decided to set up a business based initially in Edinburgh, 
where Sue had been an undergraduate and Iain had been teaching 
and undertaking research for his PhD at the University's Department 
of Forestry & Natural Resources Management, now part of the 
Scottish Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

The initial aims were to have fun sharing our love of the Great Outdoors 
and to turn in a profit now & again. That was the start of S.E.A.L. GUIDES 
- which was primarily involved in the designing & running of unusual 
outdoor based courses, interpretive guided tours, expeditions, 
cross-country skiing courses, & skills-transfer events for groups 
and individuals from hostels and local centres in the Scottish Highlands 
and the Peak District. 

Sue decided to study for a career in Medicine after having successfully 
completed a four year degree in Forestry & Natural Resources Management 
and several years of postgraduate research surveying hedgerow destruction.  
She was very successful in her MBChB studies winning Medals for her 
intercollated Pharmacoloigy studies. She is now an Associate Professor 
of Anaesthesiology at the University of Yale at Newhaven CT.  After 1981 
Sue was no longer involved in the business and Iain began involving various 
other enthusiasts in the day to day management and running of things,
including Tony Kendall.

It is also well worth noting the great support Iain received from the late
Mr and Mrs Alan Atkin and the late Pat Atkin at Ladybooth Farm in Edale
-plus encouragement and years of friendship from John Atkin and his 
family.  John and his wife Sandra now run the Snake Pass Inn on the A57
between Glossop and Bamford and John still farms on the flanks of WIn
Hill at Twitchill Farm.

Founding fathers : Iain & Tony Kendall.

The great popularity and demand for events in the Peak District soon 
became apparent to Iain - and our business moved down to Sheffield 
in 1981 and started specialising in running events in the magificent 
Hope Valley. 

Thanks to the work of people who were drawn to us then and who still work 
in our team now - such as Tony Kendall, John Thomas, Caroline Farnes, 
Pete Brookes, Ben Church, Steve Pope, Carole Wheeler, Dean Peck, 
Alan Robinson, Vicky Gamblin, Lesley Roddick Harris, Angela Groves
and many others. Over the last three decades we have developed an 
enviable reputation as one of the foremost providers of outdoor based
activities in the Peak District National Park. 

 John T.  

J. Thomas : one of our long-serving part time tutors who used
to be a computer network manager. When he's not helping out 
at Rock Lea, John is often to be found helping maintain and run
the steam railway which runs between Matlock and Rowsley.

Caroline, ( seen above with tv celebrity Ian Wright ),
is now our Finance Director. She met Iain as a customer 
on a Hillcraft training course which Iain was running at 
Edale YHA with  local mountaineer and climber Alison 
Jane Hargreaves. Alison later went on to much greater 
things and became the first woman to climb Everest oxygen 
free. Sadly Alison tragically died climbing near the summit 
of K2 on a private climbing expedition some years later. 

Angela Groves :  Dr  Ed Silva :...Lesley Roddick Harris :

We're not sure if we're the best small family run outdoor training and activity 
providers -  but for over 25 years now we've been striving to be perceived as 
one of the most reliable, and safest team of facilitators.  In 1980 we were 
appointed the principal contractor for organisations such as the YHA at Edale
and elsewhere and for the CHA at Hope - with lots of help and encouragement 
from wardens such as Dave Nicholls (YHA Edale) and Bill Hindle (CHA Moorgate)
...who helped us to arrange and run some very popular and successful programmes 
from their venues in Edale.

At the time the YHA's Magazine, Triangle, ran numerous articles on the various
and numerous social activities and sports events being run at Edale by the SEAL
GUIDES TEAM.  We were one of the most prolific providers of outdoor and
indoor events - and were applauded by Andrew Chinnock ( the YHA's CEO )
as one of the main reasons why Edale YHA became a well known and popular
venue for outdoor activities.


Our corporate client list quickly started to log the names of some very well known 
blue-chip organisations from the UK and elsewhere in Europe...and heaps of nice
unsolicited clients' kind comments and  endorsements started rolling in...thankfully 
they still keep coming !

Rock Lea's instructors Ben, Iain, Kev, Caroline, Ed, Andy, John, 
Steve & Alan at Iain and Caroline's wedding in 1987. Most of the 
above are still active instructors working at Rock Lea from time to 
time...and we are still very much a family based business.  Iain 
was slimmer then than now !

Like many of our early clients, Caroline came back for more 
courses with us ( such as mastering cross country skiing in 
the Cairngorms with  Iain and Cameron McNeish). She was back 
for work experience during her PE teacher training and rapidly 
became one of our junior tutors.  Being impressed she acquired 
the company ( just like the guy in the Remington adverts).
A much slimmer-than-now Iain married fellow director.
Our fellowship opened ROCK LEA Activity Centre, which 
became SEAL GUIDES new home-from-home. As Dave 
prepared to move from Edale YHA the team felt it was 
time to break out from our tiny base in Sheffield and 
expand into providing residential bunkhouse style 
accommodation for our customers in the unspoiled 
village of Hathersage.

Rock Lea became a success - with courses there 
being highly - acclaimed on BBC radio and on 
numerous TV programmes - & with rave reviews 
in media such as the Sunday Times & Telegraph.

All the enthusiastic part-time volunteer SEAL GUIDES 
instructors pictured above nearly 20 years ago are still 
working with us. today. All those in the photograph 
were customers before they asked if they could come 
and join our unique  fellowship. They're now a senior 
psychiatrist, a health & safety inspector, a geology teacher, 
two chartered engineers, a computer manager & a production 
manager. Caroline was a secondary P.E. & Outdoor Education 
teacher then but is now our limited company's Director
 i/c Finance and Administration..

Rock Lea  was a great home from home for 
people to stay in.  In one year alone no less 
than 550 delegates came and stayed at the centre 
just from Land Rover.  However, it is rarely used 
as an accommodation base for training clients 
nowadays because  tastes and budgets have 
changed. Many clients prefer to stay in single 
en-suite rooms in adjacent hotels conference
centres & guest houses.   Others prefer to
camp on nearby camping sites.

Brookfield Manor in Hathersage is one of the training 
& conference centres we used regularly for many 
years until it closed and went into private ownership 
in 2005. Sir Hugh Sykes currently owns and lives there

Meanwhile, back at Rock Lea  our offices and store rooms 
& classrooms keep expanding and an endless stream of 
visitors and friends seem happy to fill up the rest of our 
space ! 

Our third initiative - Peak Activities Ltd - was set 
up as a holding company in 1988 in response to 
demands for a more structured business as more 
hotel and conference-centre-based outdoor 
management development (OMD) training courses 
were being booked for clients from the food industry, 
aerospace sector and commercial organisations.

Thanks to the hard work of people such as the late 
Derek Jones ( formerly a senior training manager at 
Lucas who was another ex-customer who started 
working for us on his retirement), and assisted by
Sqdn Leader Pete Daughtrey and Flt Lt Phil Parsons 
(on official secondment from the Royal Air Force), 
the company developed some extremely powerful 
non-machismo outdoor based training tools which 
were very much appreciated by our corporate clients. 
Since then, OMD training has been particularly 
successful and has evolved further. Pete has
subsequently been promoted and is now one 
of our non-executive directors and more importantly
he's also a close friend.

 Wing Commander Peter Daughtrey MCIPD MRAeS

Team Building Events and Development Training are now the 
principal core businesses for our company. However, we still 
run "jolly" fun events just for fun - because we still love running 
them and it motivates our staff who like to enjoy the variety of 
different kinds of course through the year ! Moreover, delighted 
clients who have seen what we can do over jolly sports weekends 
often return as corporate business partners...or to train up for NGB 
awards to become part of our unique training team.

Comments from happy corporate customers...

In 1997 two of our five directors retired and we recruited
a new non-exec. director. Eileen spent lots of time wandering 
around the Chinese Himalayas, Spain, Norway etc. looking at 
her beloved Alpine plants with husband David - and taking care 
of their grandchildren at Rock Lea and elsewhere. 

"Grandma and Poppa"  helped out at the centre for many years
with guided walks and, most importantly, helping serve those 
endless cups of tea we need to ward off dehydration !  Meanwhile 
ex-director Keith Marsh stood down to set up a new life and career 
with his new wife.  Keith's huge impact in setting up our computer 
systems as our IT expert is a debt that can never be repaid. 

Peak's Activities team of three remaining directors Caroline, Tony and 
Iain formally took over the running of the business. Peak Activities Ltd
had already taken over the two other operations some years ago. 
However, as the name of this web site implies, the firm is still very 
much Iain's small and friendly personal business - with a very strong 
commitment to looking after all our customers and maintaining their 
safety at all times. Iain's door is nearly always open to customers 
during office hours ! 

Peak Activities is still a small family business which has been lucky 
enough to do business successfully with some pretty serious-sounding 
organisations over the years...although we trust we've still got the 
wisdom not to take ourselves too seriously...and to remember why we 
set up the firm in the first place !  :-)

Whether you come to us alone or with a huge group you'll get a 
warm and friendly welcome - especially if you've looked after us in 
return and paid your bills on time !  We'll treat you with complete 
honesty and integrity - and, if we may, as a small family run business 
we'll expect nothing less from you. We often find our corporate clients 
have a "culture fit" with our staff. They work hard, play hard, take 
their professionalism and safety very seriously but know how to relax 
and have a good time once the day's activities are over.




MAIN INDEX... or perhaps try the comprehensive Alphabetical Index

Dates and prices of events open to the public this year and next year

OUR TEAM OF TUTORS... more about our other tutors & instructors...





The various activities you can do with us....


Selections of kind messages from a selection of our partners & satisfied clients...

Corporate Client list..


Peak Activities Limited logotype. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Telephone : 01433-650345.

Peak Activities Limited Rock Lea Activity Centre, Station Road, Hathersage, The Hope Valley, The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, S32 1DD, United Kingdom. Revised 2009. Copyright : Peak Activities Ltd.