National Three Peaks Challenge – F##k me that was hard!!!!

Alan Schofield writes about his adventure:

A while ago George said to me “Dad, I want to do the National three peaks in 24 hours, will you drive me?” I said, “what if I do it with you”. Now at this point some of you will remember when the club did the Yorkshire three peaks, and that when I got off the coach at the end and was walking like John Wayne (Part drunk, part knackered) I said it was the hardest thing I had ever done and would never do it again!!!

So, fast forward to Thursday, the day before good Friday and after having recruited Adrian Buccilli (because he said he had been up Scafell Pike) and Dave Parker (because we thought he would know what he was doing) we set off to Fort William.

George had booked us into the Glen Nevis youth hostel, with a room for four, what could go wrong? 10 mins after lights out, there was a noise like a motor bike starting, which got louder and louder until after a big cough it stopped and then started again, I said to George “wake Adie up” Any way after one final snore and huge cough it went silent, we thought we had heard his death rattle but didn’t want to check he was alive in case it woke him.

4:00am Good Friday – Alarm goes off, Dave slams on the big light and everyone is up. Adie denies snoring!

5:00am – Packed and ready we set off up Ben Nevis, during the walk we discussed the snow on top and the likelihood of having to turn back if it was unsafe. After reaching the snowline and a few slips and slides we managed to make our way and follow the Cairns towards the summit. Here despite the mist and cloud was a magical experience, as the sun broke through just as we were at the Trig point for a photo. It was at this point that Dave and his GPS came in handy to find our route back through the cloud. Early start is a must, if ever you do it, as going down we passed a trail of people all starting their journey up. We were back at the youth hostel for 10:15 Ben Nevis Done.

After a quick change and a cuppa and getting food ready for the journey we set off to the Lakes.

If you have been up to Fort William, you will know it is a single A road all the way up from Glasgow, fortunately most of the traffic was heading in the opposite direction, we swapped drivers in a traffic queue and kept on the move all the way to Wasdale Head to start Scafell Pike, our timings were working well as most people had packed up and gone for the day as we arrived at 16:40.

Getting out of the car after around 6 hours was another matter, as all our legs, (Especially mine) had stiffened up. As we set off up the track they soon loosened up and we were on our way up.

“Where’s the top Adie” I said, “you can’t see it from here” he replied.

I have never been up Scafell Pike before and it was brutal, a non-stop climb with no respite, but we found the summit and another quick photo and we were on our way back down.

Adie and George made good time down and put the kettle on for a quick cuppa and food prep.

Scafell Pike done in 3:20.  Boots off, car loaded, Dave Parker driving, time for a nap.

As we left the car park, we were treated to an amazing full moon coming up over Scafell Pike.

Getting through the lakes was an adventure as there was a report of a road closure, so George and Dave decided to divert along a tiny B road, which became like we were on a Rally, good job Dave had his rapid response driving badge from the Fire Service, I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

Soon though, we were back on the M6 and heading for North Wales and Snowdon.

We had decided to do the Pyg Track, which starts at Pen-Y- Pas. This is shorter than the Llanberis path, but as we found out, a lot more technical, especially in the dark.

 The full moon, which had followed us all the way, disappeared behind the clouds as we pulled into the car park at 00:22. With even stiffer legs now, we quickly got prepared and set off to the summit. The route climbs quite gradually to start and I thought this isn’t too bad (Mmmmm) With the route only lit by head torches we kept to the track until it came to a halt. This is where we realized it was a good job, we had brought Dave and his GPS, he picked up the route which meant scrambling up some rocks to the next part of the track. This happened a couple more times and the climb got steeper until at last we found the railway at the top and a 400m to go sign appearing out of the mist. We found the trig point for the final photo and made our descent, I don’t believe we would have got down without the aid of the Garmin as you couldn’t get a site of anything and it may have been a long night waiting for daylight, but we managed to scramble back down and made it back to the car park with 20 mins to spare. Snowdon done in 4:18.

I would like to say I felt euphoric at what we had done but we were shattered. After a hug and handshakes, we set off home, I think George and I were almost asleep before we had left the car park.

Its only now that I realize what an achievement it was and I  still can’t quite believe what we managed to fit into a day.

What next?

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