Derbyshire’s newest adventure centre opens up the outdoors to all

Colin Adams of the Mount Cook Adventure Centre.
Colin Adams of the Mount Cook Adventure Centre.

Two friends who first bonded over a shared loved of the outdoors have set up an new centre in Derbyshire which makes adventure accessible to all.

Two friends who first bonded over a shared loved of the outdoors have set up an new centre in Derbyshire which makes adventure accessible to all.

The Mount Cook Adventure Centre nears completion.

The Mount Cook Adventure Centre nears completion.

Colin Adams and Robin Sibson are to open the Mount Cook Adventure Centre in Middleton-by-Wirksworth, offering canoeing, climbing, caving, bouldering and bushcraft to schools, scout troops and youth organisations.

The two friends admit the new company - which has been set up as a not-for-profit business - could have been highly lucrative but say the project is about so much more than money for them.

Colin said: “We both wanted to put something back into an idea which we believe has been a bit lacking recently.

“Both of us have had a lot of enjoyment in the Scouts and bringing up our families in the outdoors so we cherish the idea of young people enjoying the countryside.

The Mount Cook Adventure Centre nears completion.

The Mount Cook Adventure Centre nears completion.

“You hear about studies that show prisoners spending more time outdoors than children - when you see a young person be really affected by an experience it is a fantastic thing.”

“Neither of us are teachers but we are both interested in education and that is what is driving us.”

The centre will open its doors for the first time at a special launch event in late June before welcoming its first guests at the beginning of July.

The dormitories can sleep more than 130 guests and the centre also boasts a separate camping area which can host a further 40.

The Mount Cook Adventure Centre nears completion.

The Mount Cook Adventure Centre nears completion.

Colin says the idea behind the centre is a ‘long story’ that has been 20 or 25 years in the making.

“Both Rob and I have both been involved in primary school education and Scouts for many years.

“We were then governors of the same secondary school - John Flamstead Community School in Denby - so both our families have grown up together and our daughters are good friends.

“Then one day Rob asked me if I fancied setting up a new business and from the start it was obviously going to be based on the outdoors.”

With Colin’s background in chartered surveying and Rob’s as the chief financial officer of a public company, between them they felt like they had the necessary skills and so began looking for a suitable site.

“We knew it needed it to be accessible to the motorway and outside the Peak District so we could get planning permission but we also wanted it to be near Carsington, Black Rocks and the High Peak Trail.

“The Wirksworth area was ideal so we eventually did a deal with the nearby National Stone Centre got planning consent about a year ago.

Colin says the speed with which the project has got off the ground owes much to the pair’s complementary skills.

“Rob looks after the money and I build things so it’s a dream combination really,” he explains.

The centre has just appointed its staff including a centre manager, Matt Burton, who has more than 10 years’ experience working for the Youth Hostel Association.

Matt has been busy recruiting his team in recent weeks - including one who has returned from Canada to take up a role - and says he is ‘excited’ to be part of an organisation so committed to providing opportunities for outdoor learning and adventurous activities.

The centre has been designed with the National Citizen Service (NCS) in mind, an initiative which the government announced in last week Queen’s speech was to be made permanent by law.

And bookings are already coming in thick and fast with NCS, local schools, Scout groups, the Prince’s Trust, a birthday party and even a wedding amongst the first customers.

Before coming to the Mount Cook project, Colin was a chartered surveyor for 40 years and spent 13 of those as a property director for TV ‘dragon’ Theo Paphitis.

He says this was often ‘exciting’ work but it is clear that his current project is where his real passion lies.

“We’re not doing this for vanity and it’s not about ego - we just want young people to learn about the outdoors and that they can do things for themselves,” he says.

You can find out more about the Mount Cook Adventure Centre at www.mountcook.org.