For those of you who don’t know, the National Three Peaks Challenge is a gruelling mountaineering event, which involves climbing up and down the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales in under 24 hours. These peaks are Ben Nevis (1,344m) in Scotland, Scafell Pike (978m) in England, and Snowdon (1,085m) in Wales. In this article, we hear from Warwick Marrow’s Fundraising Coordinator, Sam Covins, who tells the story of their ‘Mountains for Marrow’ challenge.
Our Three Peaks Adventure (Ben Nevis)
After an early start, followed by an 8-hour long coach journey, we finally arrived at Fort William in the Scottish Highlands – the start point for the event. Our challenge began at 6pm with an evening ascent of our first summit. At 1,344m, Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK and attracts walkers, climbers and mountain bikers from all over the world all year-round.
We ascended (and descended) via the Pony Track, a rocky footpath to the summit that was constructed in the 1880s to enable ponies to carry supplies to the manned observatory on the mountain plateau. The route usually offers spectacular views over the surrounding highlands, but unfortunately for us, Ben Nevis was shrouded in mist and fog upon our arrival in Fort William and visibility remained somewhat limited throughout the duration of the climb.
However, despite the unfavourable weather conditions, we all managed to make it to the summit and back within our allocated 5-hour time limit, ready to depart for the Lake District by 11pm.
Our Three Peaks Adventure (Scafell Pike)
The overnight coach journey from Fort William to Wasdale Head afforded us all the opportunity for some much-needed rest and recuperation after bagging our first summit. However, unexpected roadworks and night-time traffic down the West coast prolonged our coach transfer by a further two and half hours, delaying the start time of our second summit.
We began our ascent of Scafell Pike at 6am and followed the relentlessly steep and rugged path to the rocky summit plateau. At an altitude of 978m, Scafell Pike is the smallest of the Three Peaks, but by no means the easiest. Our progress was slow and steady, with significantly improved weather conditions.
The warmth of the sun guiding our ascent was welcomed by all in the wake of the wind and rain on Ben Nevis. Despite the abundance of cloud that had settled in the valleys below, the summit of Scafell Pike did not disappoint, offering panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and landscape.
After a few obligatory ‘summit selfies’, we began our descent through the clouds back to coach that was patiently awaiting our return below.
With two down, and one to go, we departed Wasdale Head and headed for North Wales where the final part of our challenge would take place.
Our Three Peaks Adventure (Snowdon)
The coach transfer was significantly shorter than the first, and as we made our way along the steep and narrow mountain roads of Snowdonia, we caught sight of Snowdon, located high above the Llanberis Pass. Shortly after our sighting of the final summit we arrived at Pen-y-Pass, where our ascent would begin.
We ascended via the Pyg track – the quickest and arguably the most popular route to the summit of Snowdon. The path itself also serves as a route to the infamous Crib Goch, or “Red Ridge”, which is traversed by scramblers and mountaineers throughout the year.
With weary legs and high spirits we soldiered on, steadily following the route that led us to the summit ridge, before the summit itself. Our arrival at 1,085m was celebrated with hugs, cheers and several beers in the train station café, but with only a couple of hours left until the 24-hour deadline, we were forced to postpone any further celebration and begin our descent.
Our journey back to Pen-y-Pass via the Miner’s track was initially hampered by the sheer steepness of the route, but upon reaching the flat ground in the base of the Snowdon horseshoe we were able to pick up the pace, arriving at carpark with only minutes to spare.
With the challenge complete, we celebrated our achievement with a few well-earned drinks in the local pub, before once again piling back onto the coach to head back home to Warwickshire.
To find out more about taking on a lifesaving event like the Three Peaks Challenge for Anthony Nolan, just visit our ‘UK Treks’ page!