Every year thousands of people participate in a challenge unfathomable to many. Teams most often hoping to raise cash for charity climb, not one, not two, but the United Kingdom’s three highest mountains— in 24 hours. This is a feat known as the Three Peak Challenge.
The 24-hour period of time covers the ascent, descent and driving times between Scotland’s Ben Nevis, England’s Scafell Pike and Snowdon in Wales. Teams can choose to start the challenge in Scotland and work their way south, or start in Wales and work their way up.
Located in the Scottish Highlands, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, standing at 1344m. Fort William, which sits at the base of the mountain is at sea level, so unlike the other two peaks, there is no opportunity to gain any height in your vehicle.
The mountain is the end point of the famous week-long walking trek, the West Highland Way.
The most common way to walk Ben Nevis on this challenge (keeping time constraints in mind, as well as wanting to save some energy!) is via the tourist path, which starts near the youth hostel in Glen Nevis. It is known as “The Mountain Track Route,” which was created in the late 1800s.
Estimated time to climb and descend: 4.5 to 5.5 hours.
In England’s Lake District, Scafell Pike, which measures 978m is perhaps the most challenging of the three climbs. There are generally two options that teams may choose from, Wasdale which takes about 4 hours but is steeper than the five-hour Seathwaite route.
Snowdon in Wales is 1085m high and takes about four hours to walk. The Pyg Track and Miners Track are the most popular routes, which start from the Youth Hostel in Llanberis Pass.
Variations on the Challenge
Some groups may decide to make the challenge a little less… challenging, by spreading their journey over a period of 48 hours instead, or even over a couple of days. Some would rather cycle from mountain to mountain. There are also teams that sail between the peaks in the Three Peaks Yacht Race. In these instances of course, more than 24 hours is necessary. Fell running teams, on the other hand, have completed the challenge in nearly half the time! The most popular format, however, is 24-hour schedule.
Getting from Peak to Peak
Some teams choose to hire a minibus or drive a car. Because of the popularity of the event, there are a number of tour companies that can be hired to make the day run a little more smoothly. This comes at a cost, of course.
Alternatively, it is more than feasible to save yourself the fees and organize a ride with a reliable friend. It is often advised to have two drivers when possible, as the drive is usually at least 10 hours long, and you will be covering about 450 miles.