The national three peaks challenge consists of climbing the country’s three highest mountains: Mount Snowdon (Wales, 1085m), Scafell Pike (England, 978m) and Ben Nevis (Scotland, 1345m). Usually people attempt to complete the challenge within 24 hours, but as this was our first time as a group hiking we decided to spread the task over 2 days making it more enjoyable and allowing for time to take in the views.
Our first mountain to tackle was Ben Nevis (the highest at 1345m), after a couple of nerve calming pints the night before we started our journey at 8.30am on the Saturday morning. As we set off ‘Ben’ was covered in thick fog signalling how tricky this might be. After climbing the stone steps for what seemed like an eternity the path suddenly turns to snow. The amazing thing about Ben Nevis was the sudden difference in weather conditions. After ploughing through the snow we arrived at the top in just short of 3 hours, because of the thick fog and snow there was no reward view at the summit, and with temperatures around -10 we quickly took some photos of the old weather station ruin and began our descent back down. We landed back at the Ben Nevis visitor centre in 2.5 hours meaning our total journey time was 5.5 hours, not bad for four novice hikers.
After a 6 hour drive and an overnight stay in a Lake District hostel next on the list is Englands highest peak Scafell Pike. The weather was beautiful, a total contrast to the conditions in Fort William (Ben Nevis). The main route up starts and ends in Wasdale, the route up Scafell Pike is steep and relentless, you gain height very quickly and soon you can see the beautiful Wastwater lake. We manage to get to the summit after some challenging scrambling in just less that two hours. As it was a beautiful clear day at the top you can see all corners of the Lake District. The route back down was very taxing on the knees due to the steep decline. We managed to get back to the starting point in 1.5 hours so an overall time of 3.5hrs.
The last mountain on the list was Snowdon in Wales and after a 5 hour drive we started our accent at 7pm. Snowdon is a peak that dominates everything around it, unlike Scafell Pike which has other similar sized mountains surrounding it. The views and surroundings are picturesque and probably the most impressive of the three peaks. We reach the top just after sunset and the views are amazing. After a celebratory beer at the summit we descend into the darkness, our iphone flashlights prove to be invaluable! We arrive at the ‘Pen-y-Pass’ car park at 11pm the descent taking us 2hours, so an overall time of 4 hours.
Over the 2 days we walked 23 miles and a total ascent of 3064 metres (10,052ft). All in all it was a brilliant weekend and experience, I would highly recommend to anyone.
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