National Three Peaks - The Challenge

16 June



It was two weeks ago today that we embarked upon the National Three Peaks Charity in the name of charity. We left the office on the Friday morning; a part of me was really excited but another part was thinking what on Earth am I doing?! We split across two vehicles and began the long journey up to Fort William. It was a fairly smooth journey with the scenery getting better and better the further north we got, Loch Lomond was pretty stunning and the mountain ranges of Scotland were spectacular. 

When we arrived at our home for the night we could see Ben Nevis from the hotel. Fortunately the forecast had changed from thunderstorms to dry and sunny which was an improvement but it was still very hot and muggy. We all had a decent dinner, fuelling ourselves up for the next couple of days and some stayed for a drink of two whilst the less hardcore of us went to bed!



We woke up to a clear and sunny day on the Saturday and after packing up and having breakfast we went to the car park for the Pony track and we were off! Whilst it was clear it was very muggy which was a challenge in itself (along with the many, many midges that ate me alive) but we were making good progress, keeping it steady. We did end up breaking into smaller groups which worked well because everybody could walk to a pace that suited them. As we got higher the views became more amazing and was actually one of the things that kept me going. 

 

I’d been pre-warned that Ben Nevis has many false peaks so I was careful not to believe I was at the top until I knew it was the top! The peak was really interesting, crazy to know you were as high as you could be in the UK and the old weather station was still there but we didn’t have time for exploring and after a quick picture immediately started the decent.



That is where I started to have problems, a previous hidden injury came in to play and I really struggled with my knees as soon as we started to decend. Another person also twisted their calf muscle so we (and one other person who stayed with us) had to go back down a lot slower than the rest. I didn’t see any of the views on my way down I was concentrating that hard and by the time we were near the bottom I’d also become swollen and could hardly bend my legs. Fortunately with the set up of the vehicles the faster group had gone on ahead (it was a limited vehicle so we’d be able to catch up). We had our spag bol on the move towards Scarfell but whilst I didn’t know what my injury was at the time I knew I was out for Scarfell which was so disappointing but I had to stay safe so I decided I would be better staying with the support team.

We arrived at Scafell Pike in okay time but it was drizzly and overcast so it was already pretty dark when the team started to climb. Whilst they were climbing and the drivers attempted to get some sleep I went for a walk round the base of Scafell to try and test out my knees and stop them from seizing. They were okay on the flat and incline but useless coming down, even stepping down from the minibus was hard work. 

 

Once the drivers had slept as much as they could they started setting up to cook the sausages batches (aka cobs, rolls, baps etc that there was some debate about the name of!) and hats off to them, they really had everything so well organised, they’d done so much driving and done a brilliant job whilst we were on Ben Nevis for food and they were great with getting everything prepped and sorted and were still facing a full overnight drive. We also had a third vehicle with support from Scafell so we organised everything so that the first ones down could get off as quickly as possible. 

It was on here that the teams really split, there were a group of 5 that were on track for 24 hours (even with some of them extending their route a little!), another group were still going strong but slightly slower and there were a few more people with injuries who came on the limited bus with me. Fortunately there wasn’t anything more serious than twists, pulls and painful knees but it really showed how fragile our bodies can be! Scafell had looked tough, I know from training how steep it is and it is a tricky one to navigate and with the cloud cover and the darkness everyone had done amazingly well even if they only managed part of it.

It was then the night trunk to Snowdon and most of us managed to get some kind of sleep. When we arrived I tested my knees as I was in a dilemma as to whether or not I did Snowdon, my knees were painful on all terrain at this point, one in particular, and getting round the car park wasn’t easy. I thought I could probably manage up pyg track but I know how impactful it is coming down so I wasn’t confident I could get off the mountain so I had to stay behind (in the end I wish I had gone with the slower group because they had to use miners and at a very slow pace which I think I would have been okay with but I was reminded by somebody on the team that the mountain isn’t going anywhere, I’ll be able to try again). We were all routing for everybody to make it to the top of this one but with no signal we had no idea what progress they were making. The weather was much better, mostly clear with a cool breeze. 

The faster groups came down the llanberis path so the first we knew that they had made it was when they turned up with the support teams in the car. It was such an achievement that they accomplished, with the fastest team finishing in 23 hours and 28 minutes, the second team in 25 and a half hours and everybody in the slower group made it to the summit and back. 

Even though I had the injury (which I now know is my Iliotibial band which will recover but will take time) I loved the challenge, the journey, spending time with the team and being out in the mountains - it was an unforgettable experience and I’m looking forward to being able to get out there again. I’m glad that of the mountains it was Ben Nevis I got to complete, not only is it the biggest, it’s the only one I hadn’t done. I’ve now done the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales, just over three months instead of 24 hours - not quite the same ring to it but I’m still pretty proud of what I’ve been able to do and I’m super proud of everyone I climbed with and everyone who supported us.

We have also raised a brilliant amount for charity so a huge thank you to everybody who has donated. The page is still open and we have donations still coming in so I can’t put a grand total on here but including on and offline donations we are up to six and a half thousand. We added some charities before we left so that more people can benefit from the fundraising, I will put the poster and the link below but there was also a fundraiser with us for Motor Neurone Disease Association in the group.



Dawn x


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