So far, on our journey, we have realised the importance of continually being willing to change for the better. This is the reason for our business name “Kaizen”, which is a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement.
On the 21st-22nd July 2018, we were part of a 16 person team to attempt the 3 peaks challenge; walking up and down the highest mountain in Scotland (Ben Nevis- 1,345m), England (Scafell Pike- 978m) and Wales (Snowdon- 1085m) within 24 hours.
We originally just set out to do this as a challenge for ourselves and try and get some friends together during a weekend. However, our nephew had heart surgery the week before the challenge. He had some difficulties with the procedure and we were amazed by the support and dedication of the staff at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It gave the challenge much more of a purpose knowing that we were attempting it for such a good cause (click here to read more).
How did it go?
Now the logistics of getting 16 people to the 3 mountains within 24 hours is no easy task. We used Central Self Drive to hire a 17 seater minibus, which was a very smooth ride and had luggage space (not enough for everyone’s food and bags but it helped!)
The bus was capped at 62mph, which isn’t ideal when you’re against the clock. However, we were using Maximum Adventure’s website rules of adding the travel time (of 10 hours) onto the climbing time so it didn’t affect the challenge too much.
We set off at 3:50pm on Ben Nevis. The path is very clear from Glen Nevis Visitor Centre and there were plenty of people on the mountain (mostly coming down at this time!) so the route is an easy one to follow. The view of the Lochan Meall An T-Suidhe at the halfway point was incredible, but we were always aware we wouldn’t be stopping for too long at any point to admire this.
All 14 walkers got up and down the highest mountain in Scotland in 5 hours 45 minutes and back on the bus. After one mountain we were pretty much on track (compared to my rough estimates I worked out from looking online).
Arriving at Wasdale Head for Scafell Pike at 3:30 am is possibly one of the worst ways to wake up at 3 in the morning! It was raining, pitch black and there were 2 car parks to add to the confusion!
We went from the more Northern one, which had a toilet. I’m not sure if the Southern car park had toilets but it did seem like a slightly shorter route and I would probably try this one if walking Scafell again.
In the rain and dark this route was very slippery underfoot and towards the top, the rocks become loose, which doesn’t help your footing!! We only needed to walk for about 30 minutes with our head torches. The youngest member of the group at 18 years old decided it was too much at this point. The quick pace and slippery surfaces forced her to turn around. She definitely wasn’t the only one who wanted to on this climb!
On the way down I was in a group of 5 who managed to take a wrong turn. It was at a point I didn’t even notice as a turning point when looking at the maps beforehand or on the way up. It only cost us around 10 minutes as we noticed pretty quickly, but it did look steeper and a longer route if we had carried on.
The whole team was back on the bus in 4 hours 16 minutes for this one, meaning we were now only 1 minute behind schedule!
We had the weather for this one! Arriving just after 1pm we had some dedicated members of the team who wanted to get up and down in real time 24 hours. This gave them under 2 hours 40 minutes to do it. For everyone else, there were 3 hours and 59 minutes to complete the challenge.
Towards the top of the Pyg Route leaving from Pen-Y-Pass car park, it gets very steep and some of it you need to use your hands to help climb up. Luckily enough the clouds came out only on this bit to help keep us cool!
The group of 4 that wanted to achieve the challenge in 24 hours chose to take the miners path down (which is longer but completely flat after the initial steep part). After pretty much running the whole thing, they managed to get back at 3:49 pm bang on time!
Everyone else made it back in 3 hours 54 minutes completing the challenge with 5 minutes to spare.
I would highly recommend doing this if you enjoy a challenge (and walking). You do need a basic level of fitness and it definitely is hard at times. However, it’s a great way to see an amazing part of the UK and a great way to challenge yourself mentally and physically.
If you’re happy going at a slightly slower pace the views on each mountain were amazing! The lake as you come down Snowdon on the Miners route is the most inviting lake I have ever seen, especially after the tricky climb!
Carry as little as possible- Waterproofs are a must and some water or snacks are needed.
Thin layers are best- Even at the top of Ben Nevis (around 2 degrees), I didn’t get too cold as we didn’t spend too long resting. Important note, when we stopped moving it did get cold very quickly!
I took a Bivvy bag/ small first aid kit up just in case anyone got injured to keep them dry and warm. Luckily we didn’t need it, but these could be vital in an emergency.
Know the route you are taking- Most of the routes have clear paths, however, walking in the clouds can make visibility pretty poor so it’s important you know the route and turning points.
Starring key turning points on the route on google maps- even without 3G the GPRS usually works.
Separate drivers are an essential part of the team- the 2 dads were crucial for the team and there would’ve been no chance we could have got round at the speed without them.
Be mentally prepared- It will be tough at some stage even for the super fit!
Get food supplies before- We stopped at the Morrisons around the corner from Ben Nevis before climbing
You do need to be relatively fit- we saw children (and dogs) on each mountain but I wouldn’t recommend this for the average child.
We stayed in Warrington, a small Budget Ibis on the M6, the night before and after the challenge.