In May this year I attempted the Three Peaks challenge. This was attempting to climb the three highest mountains in Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon) within 24 hours. I have never attempted a challenge like this before. There was a total of 6 in our team and I only knew 2 members before the event.
We drove to Wales (where we left the car) and then to Scotland on a minibus. Sleep deprivation was already kicking in – and this was the day before the Three Peaks!! We arrived at our hotel 14 hours after we set off. However, on the actual day adrenaline, excitement and nerves all take over. From our hotel in Glasgow we drove 3 hours to Ben Nevis.
As we were a total of 3 ladies on the team we thought it best to visit the rest room before we began only to be told by our guide that the field opposite, covered in animals droppings, was the best we were going to get. He then decided to reveal to us, after we had done our business, that there was in fact a pub 50 yards in the other direction just out of sight which he would be using!!
At 3.30pm on the Saturday we began. I think I found the first part of the climb the toughest as I realised I had such a long way to go but thankfully because I had trained I think my body just took over. The paths you clamber up are not just at an obvious incline but are covered in rocks and boulders. When we got to the snowline the wind was viciously attacking us with the snow. It felt like sharp needles consistently poking our faces. I found the steeper inclines, albeit less rocky, really worked my calf muscles and found this quite painful. A more relaxed descent allowed us to take in the beautiful surroundings.
Then it was a quick change and a cup of tea and a 7 hour drive to Scafell Pike. We started Scafell Pike in the dark. If I was to describe Scafell Pike It is like someone has picked up an enormous skip of rubble and thrown it all over the mountain. This is where trouble began for 2 of our team Lindsey and Tash. Lindsey was getting severe pain in her knee while Tash was in agony with her hip. But still they ploughed on through.
Another drive of 4 and a half hours and we were at Snowdon. Snowdon is beautiful but for me I thought it was the toughest of the three. The two girls decided they would carry on as there is a cafe at the top and a train that can bring you back down (the challenge is to reach all three peaks). We climbed a trail called the Pyg track. Boy I was not expecting what we would have to climb! Some of the pathways at first are quite pleasant and then we were climbing, what seemed to me, almost sheer rock faces and trying to make a stairwell out of the crevices within it. When we were almost to the summit, excitedly talking about having a hot chocolate with marshmellows and cream, another walker announced the cafe had decided to close and the last train had gone. This was a very low point as the girls with injuries had created this mental image in their minds to get themselves through. We reached the summit in 24 hours and 25 minutes. I felt this was a fantastic achievement but it didn’t feel like the right time to start high fiving the team considering two of us were suffering! We did however walk the railway path back down and morale soon took over again.
One of the best parts of the experience was the unexpected intense connections you make within your team. It really is like being in a bubble and time just blurs into one. We all got on fabulously including our guide who just felt like one of us. I now know that this is just as important as having a certain level of fitness. Having a team you don’t gel with would most definitely make the experience completely different. Laughter is the best medicine.