Watch completing the 3 peaks challenge on YouTube
The journey to Chester
The journey to completing the 3 peaks challenge starts on Friday morning. I had to wake up at 4:30am to get to Chester by 10:30am. This wasn’t too bad for me because I already get up at that time on most days anyway. We had most things packed and ready to go, but needed the little things like my tooth brush, tooth paste and other toiletries.
I went through the checklist of things I needed to pack, and almost forgot hiking trousers. Thankfully, my wife found them in the wardrobe, and I had everything else. After a shower, coffee and brushing our teeth, we were ready to go.
The journey was long and had a few service stops, but we got to Chester and I found the group of hikers with ease. One of the hikers had created a WhatsApp group for all of us to break the ice and become acquainted before meeting up which was super helpful. Not everyone joined, but it was a nice way to get talking and then spread out to the people we didn’t yet know.
Our hotel and sleeping with a stranger
Some people came in pairs and were sleeping in the same room together. The rest of us were sleeping next to someone we had never met which was odd. However, after knowing we were both easy-going, it made getting to sleep fairly easy. Once I get to sleep, that’s it. There’s no waking me up.
We then woke up at 4:30am to get ready and head downstairs where breakfast was served. Unfortunately, there were no vegan options, but I had my own food packed. We had a debrief and headed to the taxis who took us to our first location… Ben Nevis.
Starting the 3 peaks challenge with Ben Nevis
I remember looking at a mountain and thinking “Is that Ben Nevis?”, “Is that Ben Nevis?”… “Oh, that’s Ben Nevis”. It was surrounded by clouds, and it made me feel nervous about hiking up it. We got out of the bus and had a quick check and briefing. We then all started the hike really excitedly. I started somewhere near the back, but quickly got through a lot of people. This was a huge mistake. It was the biggest mistake in the whole of the challenge, and I wish I kept a better pace.
I managed to tear the skin on both of my little toes, but I wasn’t aware until after the hike. The pain was there, but I was hoping and praying it was blisters and not tears. Every so often, I kept thinking to myself “I must almost be at the top” and I was always wrong. It was a long way to the top, but getting there was well worth the effort.
Reaching the top was breath-taking, and wonderful! I wanted to stay there for as long as possible, but I started to get cold and needed to get back down. You always think going down is easier than going up. However, it is entirely the opposite when hiking up a large mountain. My legs were shaking and aching, and my head was self-destructing. I didn’t want to carry on, and I wanted to rest. My brain was close to breaking down, and I felt tears in my eyes.
After taking a few breaths and thinking “I need to get back to the bus. I need to do this for my brother”, my energy came back, and my mind was calm again. Once I got back, and fed myself some lunch, I felt much better and recovered more.
Scafell Pike – A limit on time
We made it to Scafell Pike in the evening and we were short on time. This meant a lot of people were trying to get up the mountain as fast as possible which left a small group of people behind. I wanted to make it to the top, but during our first break, one of the tour guides noticed my legs were shaking. She pointed it out, and I replied how I was fine and I can keep going. She assured me that it wasn’t fine and asked how much food and drink I brought. It wasn’t enough, and I was silly for thinking it was.
She decided it would be best if I went back to the bus with the rest of the group who couldn’t keep up. At first, I was heartbroken because I wanted to complete the hike for my brother and for my fundraising. Once I got back to the group, we had a good discussion, and I felt better. It meant we could recover more for Snowdon which starts at 6am on the Sunday.
Completing the 3 peaks challenge with Snowdon
Snowdon was the easiest of the three mountains, but it was nowhere near easy. There were blisters on the bottom of my feet. I still had tears on my toes, and my legs were aching. However, I was properly fueled, and knew my limits by now. I decided to stay back and take things slower than usual which truly helped me.
The hike up was incredible, and every time I saw a lake, I just wanted to jump in. Alas, we had to go around the lakes and keep hiking upwards which was unfortunate. Once reaching the top, it was yet another breath-taking view. There were no clouds in the sky and it felt incredible.
Completing the 3 peaks challenge – finisher
The walk back wasn’t as bad since we were able to take a different route. However, every step hurt, and I just wanted to sleep on the nice green grass. Once we got back to the bus, we had a congratulatory beer and received medals for taking part. It was amazing, insane, breath-taking, but I won’t be doing it again. At least not the 3 peaks challenge in one go. I want to go back and finish Scafell Pike, and I might go up Snowdon or Ben Nevis again. However, I won’t be trying to complete them all in one go again. That was truly once in a lifetime challenge.
Completing the 3 peaks challenge was tough. Both mentally and physically. The thing that kept me going was my brother and all those who have supported me for the challenge.
Read my past blog post for Taking on the 3 peaks challenge in memory of my brother and to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.