I do love a good challenge. And on this weekend last year, the Three Peaks Challenge really pushed seven of us to the limit (physically and psychologically).
The party was me, top friends Rick, Mike and Ilze, brother-in-law Simon and two Liverpool legends in guide Jim and his grandson Daniel. Our expert driver Chris (Rick’s Dad) was in charge of getting us around.
In a three part series, I wanted to share some extracts of my diary from that amazing trip as we tried to conquer the top mountains in Scotland, England and Wales inside 24 hours.
The mountains which framed this enclave of Scotland were wreathed in a thick mist but the temperature was pleasantly mild as we turned into a Visitors Centre car park. Simon and Rick were playing with radio names; Rick was Mountain Leopard. I gave Simon the name Highland Seagull, which he didn’t appreciate, but soon tweaked to Night Seagull. They proceeded to have a conversation with one another during the toilet trip, much to our amazement.
Such names would be incredibly useful should we get lost …
As Mike and I climbed at the back of the group, the attire of those descending really struck me. They were wrapped up considerably, hats, gloves, thick waterproofs and a windchill-like appearance. Hmm. Was not happy when one guy said to us; “You guys are a bit silly going up in just that. It’s minus two on the top.” I was a bit annoyed. I had all my clothes ready to go in my bag and felt he was judging us. Mike didn’t seem bothered – he’s taken enough jibes about his tights from me to care about that!
Ben Nevis was proving a trudge but a fairly straightforward one in terms of path. The zigzags seemed to go on for ever but we did feel like we were making good progress as we wound up the mountain. Rick was loving the fact he had Fizzy Berries and could make up a theme tune. Disappointed that he didn’t recognise the Wagamama cookbook song from the initial two notes!
At the top, we met the other Three Peaks group who had made it up successfully but certainly with a group well strung out. There was an old abandoned lookout post at the top, pretty windswept spot! Plus, there was a raised plinth where the summit cairn stood proudly. You could see absolutely nothing. It was cold and windy and by now our raincoats were on, fully zipped and secured. But it was a great achievement. Not sure my cheery “1/6 of the way through now, guys!” particularly encouraged anyone though! I had a banana on top and then deposited my bio-degradable waste (not a euphemism!) on the floor.
Descending seemed to go pretty quickly actually and we made really good time. It was so uplifting when we got down through the zigzags and suddenly the clouds lifted! We could see the bottom again and the views were inspirational.
Mountain 1 done in 4:30 – half an hour less than the website said. Safe to say we all felt pretty good about that. And even Chris’ confession that he’d knocked the pan and spilt all the pasta off the side into the river did not dampen spirits.
From there, it was a mere six hours to our next mountain!