Tour de Hertford: celebrating the Tanner Revolution

Bike ride from Morecambe to Robin Hood Bay

10th – 12th July 2015


Tour De Hertford Logo

#TeamHertford will be embarking on a new challenge: a cycling adventure through the wild forests of Bowland to the wuthering heights of Yorkshire.

Our Tour de Hertford will be taking in the most beautiful parts of the Lancashire landscape and Yorkshire moors, as well as tackling several climbs featured in the 2014 Tour de France. Not only a cycling challenge, we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Tanner’s revolutionary admissions initiative, and will be passing through some of the areas he targeted in the early 1960s.

One of our cyclists, Sarah Singleton, explains here why this bike ride is a good way to pay it forward.




Our Grand Départ – and the start of the 335 km route - will commence from Morecambe Bay, cycling east on quiet lanes through forests and nature reserves until our first night’s rest in Skipton. The following day we continue on, tackling some of last year’s Tour de France route, passing through Leyburn, Ripon and Knaresborough and stopping in York. The final day will take the cyclists up through Sheriff Hutton (no relation to Will Hutton…) and cyclists will have the option to skirt around or climb over the Yorkshire moors depending on their ability.






Est. metres climbing


Est. metres climbing

Day 1 – Morecambe to Skipton





Day 2 – Skipton to York





Day 3 – York to Robin Hood Bay











  More information and breakdown of route can he found here, or download the pdf.

Neil Tanner and the Tanner Revolution


Neil Tanner was committed to widening access and in the 1960s he broke the mould by proactively engaging with grammar and comprehensive schools that had little or no previous Oxbridge contact, and encouraging their best students to apply to Hertford. His two E offer and interview in the fourth term created shockwaves amongst the University, and prompted other colleges to review and drastically improve their approach to outreach.

In 2015, it is the 50th anniversary of Neil becoming Tutor for Admissions and the full implementation of the Tanner scheme. The alumni who benefited from this initiative have expressed such warm feelings for Neil and gratitude for all that his scheme did for them, it was only fitting that we mark his memory with a bike ride raising much needed funds for student support - bursaries, harship grants, scholarships and outreach - so that we can continue his legacy for the benefit of future students.

It is for this reason why alumna Sarah Singleton (Law, 1979), circuit judge and QC, is taking part:

Sarah Singleton

In 1978 my northern girls' grammar school had a rather hesitant approach about deciding who was permitted to apply for places at Oxford and Cambridge. I was recklessly determined to give it a go and to apply to study Law despite the discouraging pessimism surrounding me. I ended up a beneficiary of a Hertford College offer made after an early interview - the Tanner Scheme which this year's Tour de Hertford is set to commemorate. The early interview was a terrifying hour with Roy Stuart and Stuart Anderson being grilled about the law of precedent. I still don't know how I managed to fool them into offering me a place.

I was able to complete my legal education including my degree and the Bar finals course entirely funded by grants from Lancashire County Council. Young people now, in the same position as I was, do not get even to apply for a pupillage or training contract without having first incurred an eye watering amount of debt. My good fortune continued because I was able to practise at the Bar in areas of work which were largely publicly funded; a career path which now constitutes a perilous route for those without private subsidy.

My resolution to take part in the Tour de Hertford, in the 40th year since women were first admitted to Hertford, constitutes some payback for my easier ride through my education and training than that of the present generation of Hertford students.

I am expecting it to be very challenging. I do like being out and about on a bicycle and have been known to cover some fairly long distances in a day. My preferred terrain, however, is a ride through the Cheshire plains for a pub lunch or a tour of Holland. I am approaching the concept of 208 miles and 3,000 m of climbing over three days with some considerable trepidation - and very much hoping that my fellow tour riders are not all triathletes but include some other fearful women of a certain age.

 More information can be found here.



We have 51 cyclists taking part in the Tour de Hertford, and every one of them is raising money for student support. Follow the link below to see who is taking part, and click on their name to make a gift on their JustGiving page. If you would like to make a donation towards the bike ride but you don’t mind who you sponsor, why not support all of #TeamHertford?

For cyclists
Many cleats make light work... By fundraising for this bike ride, you will be supporting the next generation of Hertford students. The donations you raise will go towards student support, helping us to broaden our outreach activities, offer financial security to students by way of bursaries and hardship grants, and attract the most able students to Hertford, regardless of their background, with scholarships.
Once your place is secured, just set up your Just Giving page and let all your friends and family know what you’re cycling for. The minimum fundraising target is a very achievable £150, but we hope that you will be inspired to go as far as you can for this very worthy cause!


The support team

PIE logo

Passion in Events ('pie' for short) is an event management company that specialises in delivering high quality bespoke cycle events throughout the UK and Europe. Our tour leader, Paul Rayfield, is a familiar face to some Hertfordians who took part in the Bridge to Bridge, Oxford to Venice bike ride, and he will be joined other returning members of the pie team. We will be in safe hands throughout the trip!


"I took on the Oxford to Venice bike ride in the Summer of 2014 expecting it to be one of the biggest, physical challenges of my life. And, it was! But what I hadn't expected was how inspiring, motivating and supportive the guides from PIE would be. The Semnoz climb on day 8 was an added extra for the pros but the tour leaders and guides encouraged everyone to do it and with their help, we all made it to the top - some of us in better time than others, but all in good time!  I never dreamed I would, and frankly, without their moral (and at times physical!) support, it would have defeated me.

Throughout the 11 day adventure the PIE guides went above and beyond; they worked tirelessly into the night working on the next day’s route, checking everyone’s bike was okay, and endlessly cheering us on en route and at rest stops. If you remain concerned whether you can physically or mentally do the Tour de Hertford bike ride, just give it a go and try – you will be in expert hands, and you won’t regret it!"  

 (Farzana Aslam, Bridge to Bridge Oxford to Venice)