Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Challenge That Was....

After what has seemed likes years rather than months of preparation the Three Peaks Challenge has been completed.

In a strange way it is sad, yet in another elating!

On Friday 17th June we packed our car full to the brim with walking boots, rucksacks, clothes and snacks along with 1 driver and four very nervous walkers.

At 1.30pm we left for Scotland, arriving at our Premier Inn around 6.15 just as the others pulled up from their journey from our head office.

(Let me tell you getting 30 people booked in is no easy feet!)

At 7pm we all met for food and to calm our nerves before the big adventure.
Of course an early night was on the agenda, with many of us retiring to our rooms for 9.30/10pm.
Unbelievably 3 of the younger members decided to head into town returning at 3am!
(no surprise that they didn't manage to complete the challenge!) 

After a McDonalds breakfast we all met in the bar to discuss the challenge and what was expected.
Maps were handed out, (laminated to survive the weather and double sided to make it less to carry) along with first aid kits for each van, (of which there were 5 in total plus our car) each person was assigned a van and drivers were briefed. The understanding amongst all the walkers was that they may have to change into different vans depending as to how quickly they descended each mountain.

The very talkative and excitable bunch that I normally knew were now nowhere to be seen, having been replaced with nervous and apprehensive faces instead.

The enormity of what we have signed up to had finally hit home.

The whole crowd of walkers and drivers (bar one), including the five vans kindly given free (including fuel) for the weekend from work

Off we went to Fort William, allowing people to stock up at Morrisons and the surrounding walking shops with any last items they may need. 

Finally at 4.50pm we off loaded at the Ben Nevis Inn ready to begin at 5pm.
The amount of walkers and vans were huge, this being the first peak week of the challenge.

We said our goodbyes, wished each other luck and set off to climb the first mountain.

For the drivers this meant time to try and catch a few hours kip before we returned in what they hoped would be 5 hours or under.

The weather was awful! Rain lashed down on us for the entire climb up. As we approached approximately two thirds up the mountain to the place where it was massed in snow in May, I was so relieved to see no snow at all. Just a very wet path.

Just before we approached the summit we saw our first bit of snow. It was only approximately 20ft across but the trouble people were having both climbing up and down was hysterical! A couple coming down as I was climbing up gave up trying to stay on their feet and opted for sliding down on their bottoms instead! Whilst it looked a fun way to do it the thought of a few hours with not only wet clothes but a freezing bum too meant in was not for me.

Hubby had reached the summit half an hour before me and even though he was freezing cold he waited for me to arrive in order to get a photo together.

As soon as this was taken it was straight back down to the bottom for me!

After 4 hours and 50 minutes I marched off the bottom, elated with my achievement. Whilst I wasn't one of the fasted I had paced myself the entire way, reaching the bottom feeling shattered, within the time allowed and with energy still in the tank for the next two mountains. A few of our walkers had flown up and down and I knew that they would be feeling it by the time we reached Scarfell Pike.
Hubby was so pleased to have the first one completed

As was I!

You can see just how wet we were.

This has to be one of my favourite photos ever. My nephew was so pleased for me he ran over for a very wet hug, even though he was now in his nice dry clothes. One of the best hugs ever!

After striping out of our wet walking gear and into drive clothes we set straight off on our 6 hour journey to Scarfell Pike. The drive was avery long one. Rain beat down, fog made visibility almost none existent and dear running in the road gave us concern to. My way to cope was to get some sleep, not a lot but enough to feel I had rested. 

We arrived at Scarfell Pike at 3.50am giving us time to change into our walking gear, refill our water and set off for 4am. We were dropped off the national trust car park. (quick tip, the car park is closed at that time as there is a camp site next to it. You must be very quiet on this part of the path)

Even as we were setting off, with our trusty head torches on people were already descending having climbed it totally in the dark! These were the walkers doing the challenge in the reverse order. I can not imagine having to climb Ben Nevis last!! 

Even though it was early in the morning the light was good. This was by far the hardest of the three. just getting out of the car felt a challenge, one that wasn't helped by yet more rain lashing down on us!

The peril of this mountain is that you can so easily go the wrong way, causing you to scramble and climb far too close the edge than anyone should. Luckily hubby navigated spot on, never leaving me and encouraging me to go quicker when needed and ensuring I constantly drunk water to stay hydrated.
You would be amazed how much water you get through!

After 2 hours we reached the top.
Yet again soaked through!

The same six that managed to complete all in 24 hours, just my nephew missing from this picture.

Quick photo and straight back down again!

This was the mountain that caught many people out.
On the way down we saw many of our party. Some almost at the top, others half way up, a few in absolute tears and having to turn round.

When we reached the bottom it was terrible. No one was around. Not one of the vans or our car. It was soul destroying to see no one. With no phone signal at all we felt very alone. However after a few minutes our car arrived and whisked us off to a clearing up the road where Andy's parents were waiting with bacon and sausage sandwiches, tea and coffee, along with a packed lunch for in car.
One of the best sights ever! Bacon, sausage and beans plus a cuppa! Divine.

I have never been so pleased to see them!
This was the morale boost that we all needed drivers included.(Don't underestimate how hard it is for the drivers.)
As we had made such good time this allowed us to have a well earned break for around 30/40 minutes before once again setting off on a five hour journey to Snowdon.

I dropped off to sleep again for most of the journey but bless them they woke me up 40 minutes before we arrived to eat my packed lunch in order to have more energy to climb the last mountain.

We arrived in record time at 12.40. As you can never park on the car park unless you are there at silly o'clock in the morning we stopped at a lay by to kit up. This was essential as you are only allowed a few minutes to be dropped off before being ushered away by the car park attendant. At the top we were dropped off and quickly set off on our last climb. 

Now I love Snowdon, it is without a doubt my favourite mountain. I love the scrambling, the views and even how shattered it makes me feel and my biggest worry was that after this my feelings would well and truly change! However as if by magic the sun appeared, warming my bones and encouraging me to get my sorry ass up that mountain. I am not going to lie it was hard work and I very quickly wanted to sun to bugger off as I was far to hot! But what amazed me more than anything was how quiet the climb was. On Ben Nevis you saw nothing but Three Peakers, Scarfell Pike you could see people starting to flag and the crowds had thinned out considerably. Here it was so quiet it felt strange, don't get me wrong I was pleased to not have to wait behind others or have the constant excuse me please phrase falling from my mouth, but even so it felt surreal. 

On our journey up we saw friendly faces of people who can come to meet us and decided to climb Snowdon too. Again this really did boost morale. I was so pleased to see that my nephew had managed to catch us up, no mean feet either as he had arrived 15 minutes after we had set off! 

At the top one last photo before our finally descent.
Totally past caring how I looked at this point. a kiss was all I wanted>

Smiles all round.

Hubby and Josh flew infront wanting to ensure they finished in 24 hours and finish they did coming in at 23 hours and 24 minutes. To be fair to my lovely hubby he could have finished so much quicker but he would never leave me, promising to reach each summit together. For that I am so grateful as it spurred me on more than he will ever know.

I finally finished my Three Peaks challenge coming in at 23 hours and 45 minutes. 
Quite how my legs carried me I will never know!

"Thank God", was quickly followed by "never again!"

I was so happy I could have cried.
So pleased and proud.

My feet fully intact, my only blister was one on my hand from my walking stick which burst just before the bottom of Snowdon.

Is it a challenge I would do again?

No bloody way!

But I am so proud to have completed it.

Not only that but out of the 22 walkers that started, only 11 completed all three mountains.

Out of the 11 only 7 completed it in 24 hours, of which I came in fourth.
The seven that completed in under 24 hours.

Other than having my girls this has been the hardest and proudest thing I have ever done.

Even if it was an extreme way to get three new pairs of shoes!!

My legs are still stiff although I do now feel more human.

The worst part is the 50+ midge bites I now have all over my body. 
I look like I have chicken pox and itch like mad!!

X x


  1. I love that photo of you at the bottom, might print it off and keep it in my pocket to motivate me: "this is how it will feel if you do it!!"

    Really really huge well done, I'm surprised about the number who didn't make it, although I don't think they can have been taking it that seriously if they went out drinking the night before.

    A couple of practical questions: what about the toilet facilities?? Do each of the mountains have any at the bottom? How much water did you take with you? What did you eat? Did you manage that time quite easily or did you feel you were going at a fast pace? How steep are Ben Nevis and Snowdon, I seem to remember being told Scafell is the worst one is that right?

    I'm glad the snow seems to have gone from Ben Nevis at least, I was horrified by your pics a few weeks ago!

    Thanks for posting up so much info here, I think it's terrified and reassured me in equal measure! It's getting so close now that I have this constant churning stomach!

    Huge congrats once again! (What charity did you do it for BTW? If you send a link I'll give a few quid :) ) xxx

  2. You are simply amazing. I imagine you're utterly starving now?
    What an awesome and pretty amazing thing to put yourself and your body through.

    Well done!

  3. Thanks guys. I am so proud of myself and of hubby and nephew, both I knew would achieve it. I was a little surprised my other nephew didn't as he had trained more than me, but he did fly up Ben Nevis which I feel knocked all his energy out of him!

    In answer to your questions Lucy I shall try my best;

    For toilets,
    Ben Nevis inn has them as does the visitors centre.
    There are a few at Scarfell some where, not too sure where though. ( I've always dipped if I'm honest.)
    Snowdon has a great visitors centre, with a great cafe which has a good selection of cake to celebrate with!

    I took six 2ltr bottles with me and drunk them all!

    We ate a full meal at the drovers inn, a fantastic pub that you must visit if you can, at lunch time on the Saturday lunch time. We took oat bars and sweets etc up with us. But the bacon sandwiches were a god send at the bottom of Scarfell Pike. I couldn't have carried on with out a break and a cup of tea.

    I pushed where I could but constantly tried to set the best pace possible. Please bear in mind that I am not that fit at all and at times people just passed by me!

    Scarfell was the hardest. But more as you are knackered mentally rather than anything else.

    Ben Nevis is a constant climb bar one part but doable.

    Snowdon is a scramble, with lots of climbing. Some people hate it but me I love it. Call me crazy I know! Plus it's the last one so that puts a spring in your step.

    You will do fantastic I just know. You are younger and fitter than me.

    We did it for aged uk and I will put a link on for our just giving page at some stage.

    Remember that the achievement is to complete the Three Peaks, the challenge is to complete it in 24 hours.

    We had many people complete two mountains and unable to attempt the third, along with some who refused to even try once they knew it would be over by two or three hours, which to me is crazy! After speaking to other groups they all had similar instances to report.

    The difference or me was fantastic insoles, supper socks (7 pairs cost £100!) dry kit, (all set ready or each mountain so no faffing in the boot along with water and snacks) and a very good support group.

    Support each other, encourage and in the words of my nephew "crack on!" it's not a time or photos or enjoying the scenery and no stopping to eat your sandwiches at the top, just take a pic and yomp back down. Remember that and you will crack it well under the time.

    Sending you so much good luck it's untrue!

    If I've missed anything give me a shout.

    X x

  4. Wow you are amazing!!!! That is a fabulous achievement and you should be rightly proud! What was it that made you want to do it? How did it come about? Very very well done!

  5. Ha - you'll do anything for new shoes, eh!?

    Just kidding - what an amazing job you did. You must be so proud and rightfully so! Well done.

    And, yes, the Schuhs on my blog are still available and (I have it on good authority), the sizes that are out of stock will be restocked. The link on my blog should take you right too them x

  6. What a fantastic achievement!!! Really, well done. I kind of know what you mean about it being a bad/never again experience as well as a great one....I did the Great South Run a couple years ago and it was the worst experience of my life, but I felt so proud that I'd got through it.

    K xx

  7. Oh I've got such a big grin on my face after reading this post. You've done so amazingly well and the pictures are just wonderful.

    Can't believe the younger ones in the group sabotaged themselves by going out partying the night before though! After spending all the time training - I just don't understand them.

  8. OMG well done to you lady!

    Brilliant photos too. xx

  9. what an achievement! A massive well done! The photos are awesome, have fun shoe shopping!!!

  10. oh wow. one word - amazing!

  11. wow. You did it!!. I climbed Scarfell Pike years ogo. The fog came down, and didnt leave til we got to the top could hardly see our hands in frot of our faces! Then got sun burnt on the way down. I seriously dont think i could physically do the 3 of them.

  12. That is an amazing feat! I have recently climbed Snowdon and found it really hard. I can't imagine doing three mountains plus all the travelling.
    Thanks very much for sharing with Loud 'n' Proud.


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