Thursday, September 11, 2014

3 Peaks Challenge - 6th and 7th of September

First and foremost a massive THANK YOU to everyone who donated to the NSPCC via MyDonate - I had a target of £500 and have so far raised over £700 (including the gift aid) 

Last weekend I took part in a 3 peaks challenge for the NSPCC. It was organised through work and 30 of us took part.

Friday evening I flew up to Glasgow from London city and stayed overnight a the Premier Inn near the airport.  


Got up around 7.30 and headed down for breakfast - had Porridge for a starter followed by a full English breakfast (my version of carb loading) .

We were meeting the event team from at 10.30 so after breakfast it was back to my room to get changed into my hiking clothes and check through my kit.

After meeting up with the others we climbed into the 3 minibuses and set off to Glen Nevis. The journey took just under 5 hours including a stop at Morrisons to stock up on food and snacks for the challenge then finally - just before 3.30pm we were ready.

Ben Nevis

The weather was brilliant - Sunny with a light breeze. We were warned to watch out for fell runners completed in the Ben Nevis race  - the race was nearing it's end and the last of the runners were coming down the mountain and we clapped and cheered them as they went by. I checked later and the winner was Finlay Wild of Lochaber Athletic Club with a time of 01:34:43 !

Our group quickly split up over the mountain as we found our own pace. I was happy with a steady plodding pace - especially as I quickly warmed up. 

The views over the mountains was fantastic -  I would have loved to have had the time to stop and really appreciate it but did take the odd minute to enjoy the vista and take some photos.

At about 1000m the cloud closed in and the temperature started to drop quickly though as we reached the plateau below the summit we cleared the cloud into sunshine

I reached the summit shortly after 6pm. Unfortunately it was in cloud and exposed to about a 20 mph wind so time for hat\jacket and a quick look round at the remains of the old meteorological observatory before heading down.

I found going down much harder on my legs than going up and got back to the mini-bus just before 9pm - total distance 16.89km - total ascend 1305m - here's the data from my GPS watch

Back at the mini-bus we tucked into sandwiches and coffee till everyone had completed the climb then we packed up and set off for Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike

Can't say I can recommend trying the rest in a mini-bus ... my FitBit tells me I didn't manage to get any sleep though I did dose off for short periods. 

There was only one memorable part of the journey when the driver said to the team leader - "Looks there's deer by the road" - shortly followed by "SHIT" and a loud bang \ lurch as a deer decided to cross immediately in front of the bus. 

The event leader and driver checked for damage (the deer had ran off) then we completed the journey to Wasdale Head.

We set off at 4.30am - the sky was clear and with no light pollution for miles around was full of stars - I would have been happy just to stare at that beautiful sight for hours but had more pressing matters - getting to the top of Scafell for sunrise.

We were all wearing head torchs to light our paths and quickly spread out along the path as we found our natural walking pace.

After about an hour we came to the boulder field and the path disappeared amongst the rocks. Predawn was brightening the eastern skies but wasn't yet bright enough in the shadow of the hills so we aimed at a group of lights ahead of us hoping that they knew where they were going - fortunately they did and we found one of our mountain leaders waiting on the other side giving us encouragement to continue upwards (on the way down I realised that there were cairns marking the way but they weren't obvious in the dark).

The last part of the climb became a real slog as my leg muscles were now complaining loudly at each step but I reached the top at 6.40 and it was worth every step (I was smiling on the inside)

The walk down was tough - managed to lose my footing three of four times and and my left leg had decided that it 
had had enough and wouldn't bear my weight when I had to step down leading with my right so it took about 2 hours to walk down. However the morning remained glorious and the landscape was breathtaking in the golden morning light.

I reached the mini-buses just after 9.30am. I was about the 15th person from our group back and the first 10 were getting on a mini-bus to make an early start for Snowden. We had to wait for another 4 or 5 to fill the next so there was time for more food (instant porridge, tea, crisps and a flapjack). Shortly after 10am we had 9 people ready to go and it was unlikely that anyone else was going to be down in the near future so we boarded the bus for the last time heading to Snowden. The bad news was that the people on the last bus was unlikely to be in time to attempt Snowden.


We were now on a fairly tight deadline to get to Snowden quickly enough to have sufficient time to climb and descend the mountain time for the transfer back to London at 6.30pm.  We had a single stop and the Chester services to go to the toilet and grab some lunch then push on to Pen-y-Pass.

We reached Pen-y-Pass just about 2.30pm, met with our local Mountain Leader then headed up the Pyg Track.

It was tough going and the lack of sleep and my malfunctioning left leg made it slow going however the sunshine and scenery kept me going.

The clock was ticking and at 4pm I was only at 800m,above the tarns and just before the start on the steep zigzag up to the ridge and summit. I checked with one of the mountain leaders and he estimated that there it was at least 40 minutes to the summit so I needed about 3 hours to complete the challenge but only had 2 hours.

Given my left leg was getting worse I called it quits and turned back. 

It was probably the right decision as by the time I got back to the carpark I was finding it difficult to walk (I had strained one of my quadriceps in my left thigh) however I've already promised myself to return to Snowden and complete the walk.

All the above photos (and a few more) are shared on  Google Plus

1 comment:

Elizabeth Nicholls said...

Absolutely brilliant Sean, I'm so impressed and the pics are spectacular.....WELL DONE!!!