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National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edition

National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edition


Postby andygunn23 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:01 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis

Date walked: 06/07/2016

Time taken: 76.5 hours

Distance: 40 km

Ascent: 3500m

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National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edition

The National Three Peaks Challenge is defined as "...climbing the three highest peaks in England (Scafell Pike - 978m), Wales (Snowdon / YrWyddfa - 1085m) and Scotland (Ben Nevis - 1345m), often within 24 hours".

When I began bagging Scotland's finest Munros in August 2015 I decided to complete journals for each one. Walkhighlands has proved to be the perfect platform, yet at the same time an uncontrollable source of slowing progress, none more so than this weekend...

As a "newbie", surely bigger is better? Many hours spent trolling through walk reports of Ben Nevis eventually had me reviewing the National Three Peaks - what could be better than the three biggest across three countries?! Before long it became a talking point with many strangers I met across the Munros of the Cairngorms. Firstly, don't get me wrong I fully understand and appreciate the challenge associated with completed it in 24 hours... but... why rush something potentially so beautiful? Put it like this, after a fish supper would you rush your sticky toffee pudding - absolutely not!

I knew I would never find a designated driver so I opted to do it over three days and just drive myself. I'm not one for taking the easy option so I had a master plan of the Snowdon Horseshoe, Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route and finishing with Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg (CMD) Arete...

Went to gauge interest from my Facebook friends and the response was unbelievable - however this meant committing to a weekend, folk getting work off and leaving the weather in the hands of the Gods... The first weekend in July 2016 was set.

Although I would have attempted to complete the Three Peaks on my own, this weekend was without a shadow of a doubt this was a team effort / adventure, and this was the dream team (and titles they claimed / were assigned over the weekend...):

Liam - International Superstar DJ / Occupancy Manager
Andrew R - Mountain Goat / Lion... (I prefer goat)
Connor - Patter Provider (debatable)
Me (Andrew G)- Chauffeur / Report Writer and Debated Head Photographer....

As head Chauffeur the route was... Aberdeen --> Banchory (fuel for me and car) --> Lumphanan (Liam updating sock supply) --> Aboyne (collect Connor) --> Snowdon --> Scafell Pike --> Ben Nevis --> home.

Within 30 minutes Connor announced he was only coming for a new Facebook cover photo - I wouldn't want to put you through the pain of reading this whole report so here we go...
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HELICOPTERS... we were still in Scotland and managed to get stuck behind two helicopters crawling at 40mph (on lorries admittedly). Perfect start. Oh and the weather was forecast to be... wet. Nevertheless, credit where credit is due our own Superstar DJ was pulling out some belters (he hadn't reached International status yet).

Before long (and mostly within the legal speed limit (parents claim to read these)) we crossed seamlessly* over the border into England and began searching for a service station.

* This report was written in July 2016 weeks after Brexit if you are reading in 2018 this is where you will stop for border control. Maybe they could extend the Aberdeen bypass to Wales?

Energy levels hit rock bottom, three tins of Red Bull were polished off and it was only 10pm, another few hours until our "cheap and cheerful" stop in Runcorn (somewhere South of Liverpoooooool). Thankfully (now gaining international experience) our very own Superstar DJ pulled out an incredible transition from some opera classic to ABBA. Much hilarity ensued and next thing we knew it was nearly 1am and we had arrived safe and "well" in Runcorn. The planned 6am departure was swiftly moved back to 7am - bloody helicopters!

Friday 1st July - The Beginning (Snowdon)

Before we set off we all agreed if we can only get one good day of weather lets hope its Snowdon. The drive there was spectacular and all was looking positive. Superstar DJ fired on some Welsh bands (avoiding Lostprophets for obvious reasons... :crazy: )

After a bit of farting about and before setting off we set about getting the first team photo: Andrew G, Andrew R, Connor, Breeksy (we will come to that....) & Liam
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You are probably as confused as the kind German who took that photo. Breeksy is currently experiencing (a hugely enjoyable) hostage situation after Liam captured from one of our other friends flat after far too many shandies... Oh and yes, it is a dog... apparently.

We fired on at a cracking pace on route to the ridge route.
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The ridge from the start - already looking mighty impressive. I think Andrew was admiring the spot of sun...
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We had rapidly passed a few other groups and had reached the split in the path. I would argue this is the first opportunity to appreciate the pure beauty of this walk.

It became clear here that England would have a lot to live up to...
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Right it was!
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The next couple of pictures are from the rather instant ascent up towards the ridge.

This was very staged...
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Vrooooom vroooom - credit LM Photography... (I promised to credit him for all his snaps)
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For scale try find the people!
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It appears Liam has a soft spot for hostages - the dream team and a hostage NHS "stressman"...
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Here is me looking pleased with a photo - credit LM Photography...
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... and here is that photo looking back where we came from!
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Shoe laces... We had only been going for about an hour but it quickly became apparent Liam's shoe tying abilities did not match his DJ-ing skills - thankfully it provided much amusement.

This was tie number 34 of 5402 over the weekend :lol:
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We had nearly reached the ridge, but the views were spectacular and the weather was holding out, almost providing a mysterious atmosphere!

Wow.
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No caption needed.
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Before concentration was really needed we met a group of lads at the top who eagerly waved us through... :shock: no room to fall here (thankfully Connor provided a belter of a fall on safer ground later!)

"You lads are making cracking time. On you go."
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I think Liam was at the back because of shoe tie 53 - credit LM Photography... :lol:
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We had all read review of the ridge and knew what to expect. An introduction is not needed.

Highway to the clouds.
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"My Mum would kill me if she could see this..."
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"Probably, if not you'll never be let out with me again!"
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Safe as houses.
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The view that await!
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Sound everyone is still alive and kicking. Onwards and upwards, or in this case downwards.
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There are many photos that could sum up this weekend - this is up there!
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Snowdon was hiding up in the clouds...
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It is always good to stop, look back and see what you've completed. This was once of those moments of immense satisfaction. We stopped for elevenses.

Tremendous!
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Okay the Welsh take a lot of sheep related grief... but we are all based in Aberdeen so...

"Oh look the sheep have targets here......" :lol: :lol:
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Over the last few months I have seen some incredible views of Scotland but the next few photos rival those. We hadn't even reached the first of the three peaks but this was a brilliant idea! Have a look at this!

We walked along the top of that 8) .
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Come on sun!
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What a landscape :shock:
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Even Liam couldn't ruin this view :wink: :lol:
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The clouds parted and we got a brief view of Snowdon summit - VERY BRIEF!
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We had enjoyed perfect conditions along the ridge and by now had merged with the tourist path and the Snowdon Mountain Railway where visibility disappeared (mountain railway.... what a terrible idea!). Fully support this kind of initiative aiding the elderly and disabled experience some cracking views. Unfortunately eating 4,100,304,000 too many calories may now be classed as a disability. In other words the path was MOBBED, predominately with people who expended no more than a few pounds (unfortunately for them the monetary measure of pounds to get to the top).

The summit of Snowdon!
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Swiftly left the summit and began the rather immediate descent to continue along the other side of the horseshoe. We spent good fifteen minutes in the clouds before the views of what await became clear!

Still a fair bit to go!
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"You fell over, you fell over"... Connor has achieved the first fall off the weekend. He had barely hit the ground and Liam had already hit the second verse of "you fell over..." before noting it was nothing more than bruised pride. With a few nips of whisky Liam found great pride in not being the first to fall - this will come back to haunt him.

We stopped for a while and get a few photos (Connor still looking for that potential Facebook cover photo.... :lol: )

Better with or without my face...
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(without)... 8)
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Lads on tour.
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Liam chilling like a villain.
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In this case: what goes down, must go up...
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Cheeky...
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Did not look this step from the other side!
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Nearly there!
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:D
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Only a while back we were scrambling along the top of that :shock: 8)
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We began the descent and concluded that the weather had been incredible. Just that like the heavens opened. I mean torrential, it was only 45 minutes away from the car but we got back to the car park soaked!

A "quick" change, dry and pre-pack for the camp in England and we were ready to set off. No doubt this was the lowest morale got all weekend. Wet, smelly, later than planned, hungry and knowing we had a few hundred miles to contend with before we even got to England.

The planned swift scoot up to England ended up being a crawl, the Friday rush hour traffic played havoc just next to Liverpool. Nevertheless 4 lads in one car there was nothing else to do than check out the local talent... :lol: The less written about this section of the journey is probably best for all parties.

The weather remained miserable and we were convinced it would be a rather wet camp somewhere around the base of Scafell Pike. During the journey, given the time already wasted and the almost guaranteed poor weather we opted to scrap the Corridor Route plan and just complete Scafell Pike via the tourist route.

The weather starting to look promising as we were approaching - Credit LM Photography :lol: .
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The Welsh appeared to be on holiday in England... and yes that is my sock drying - the smell :crazy:
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We had three tents, a three, a two, and a one. The decision was made to camp (not sure if all entirely legally) around the base of Scafell Pike and then drop the tents off in the car before heading up to the summit in the morning. By now it was getting dark, the ground was soaking and there perfecting camping spot seemed nearly impossible.

Somehow we managed to get the tents up, myself and Andrew got a tent each whilst Liam and Connor has the joy of the 3-man tent. Unsure how they'd get on after Connor's earlier fall, I fired in my earplugs and entered a near coma state of affairs.

It could be worse, I did crop out a cheeky nip slip....
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Saturday 2nd July - I like Piña Colada's (Scafell Pike - Caught in the Rain)

As the rain lashed down on the tent (it always sounds much worse than it is!) I prepared the waterproof map expecting to find a monsoon outside.
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The rain briefly stopped so we got up (slowly), skipped breakfast and began to take down the hotel.
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Brilliant weather...
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All packed, we headed back to the car to ditch the tents and pack the day-sacks.
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Unfortunately with the weather and clearly no great views to be appreciated the camera also got ditched and the rest of the photos became a job for the good old iPhone!

Skipping breakfast, what a great idea, save some time, don't get soaked.... Idiots. Within about 10 minutes of walking up Scafell it became apparent to me I was rubber ducked. Thankfully it quickly became obvious so was everyone else except from Andrew R who was almost racing up to the top - Mountain Lion status achieved. :clap:

The last view before we entered the clouds!
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As myself, Liam and Connor (and Breeksy) slowly struggled up the hill we were met by some "nice" gent. In a really posh accent we got the smug, "I would say you're half way, but then come to think about it you're probably not even a third, Ho, Ho, Ho". For once I remembered my walking sticks, if it hadn't involved walking an additional few meters I would happily of sacrificed one :wink: .

Thankfully Connor and Liam agreed. He was forever after known as the Scafell Roaster (well at least that is the best PC way to describe it).

This was genuinely one hell of a struggle!
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Even with many stops we have made it to the top!
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With views of the surrounding area lacking there is only a few photos from the descent.

Not for any of this serious selfie patter (thankfully neither is Liam :lol: ).
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Still not sure why the modelling contracts aren't flying in...
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Before the falls....
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Liam opted to take prime position at the back to ensure no slips or trips were unnoticed... He took it was great pleasure as I had one hell of a slide. Thankfully we all knew based on the law of averages and inability to tie laces Liam was going to have a tumble eventually.

We didn't have to wait long. Only five minutes after me Liam managed a cheeky fall. Thankfully for him there was hoards of people around who probably thought we were a horrible bunch of mates trying hard to stop laughing. :lol: :lol:

Karma.

As I mention earlier the master plan was to complete Ben Nevis via CMD. The weather again looked rubbish and legs were already in a pretty bad state. Changing gears was becoming challenging and cramp was setting in.

We took the master decision to checkin at a campsite in Fort William, go for a few beers, get a good sleep and take the tourist route. The troops in the back had found the perfect site and our very own (now international) Superstar DJ phoned to book...

"Yes for four occupants please..."
*** silence ***
"Yes for four people please...."

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Liam's attempt at being fancy provided great amusement and he was suitably ridiculed as the Occupancy Manager for the remainder of the trip.

We stayed at Lochy Holiday Park, which I couldn't give better reviews, other than the fact we have to get a taxi into town - absolutely no chance of walking!

The venue for the night was decided as the Grog and Gruel.

I had been craving a beer all weekend! I can't even remember what I had, or if it was even that good, but at the time it felt incredible!
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We all ordered the Stag Pie for main. Lack of food was taking its tole now. One beer and I felt half cut. Pie was demolished within about 30 seconds. Conversation disappeared entirely.

"Can I order Ice Cream, Chips, a BLT and two Chocolate Fudge Brownies? Just add it onto that table over there..."
" :shock: Did your mains not arrive?"
:lol: "Seconds please!"

Feeling much more content, full of beer and food I opted to get a selfie of the team. This back fired instantly, moving my arm about head height resulted in some unbelievable cramp - who knew driving could be that difficult!

Persistance (and a lot of pain) paid off.
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We got back and into the tents before 10pm, perfect! A long lie guaranteed - aim to leave by 8am at the latest tomorrow morning.

Sunday 3rd July - The End (Ben Nevis)

The breakfast mistake would not be made again. So slightly later than planned everything was packed and we were ready to set off to Ben Nevis, for the final and biggest of the three peaks.

Looking better than we smelt...
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Okay I take that back.
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Admittedly I was hugely disappointed we decided to take the tourist path, but for me the drive and Snowdon Horseshoe took far more out of the old legs than planned. There isn't a great deal to comment on the path, its a straightforward zig-zag up to the summit which is loaded with people.

For me this would be Munro 34, but I will definitely come back and do Ben Nevis properly. Instead of explaining the walk, here is a section of snaps.

Fresh as death.
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Even in poor weather Scotland can be spectacular.
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This particular Sunday Scotland was moody.
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It is not called the tourist path for nothing...
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Why does it always rain on me...
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Not lying when I said zig-zags.
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Mighty fine apple...
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I can't remember what was going on here but abuse was definitely being fired. :lol:
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Understandably so!
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July in Scotland and snow felt right at home.
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Summit number three. Well done Breeksy - terrific effort for such a small dog.
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The troops (other than the responsible driver - me) polished off the remainder of the whisky which resulted in sledging down the patch of snow. Thankfully this stopped the inevitable falls!

Within about half an hour we were back out of the clouds and on route to the car.

This was where I had originally planned to camp (too far away from the pub!)
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The views could be spectacular.
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Feet. Sore.
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And just like that the three peaks were over.

We headed back to Aberdeen, stopped for a fish supper 8) and got the magical Slush Puppy that Connor had been craving (and going on and on and on and on about) for a good few days.

I didn't anticipating sunbathing in a Co-Op car park whilst waiting for cramp to subside!
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Within three days we had travelled from Aberdeen to Wales to England and then back to Scotland. I genuinely wanted to complete the three epic walks but given the weather and the distance to drive, getting the good day in Wales was more than perfect!

Considering the four of us had never all met it turned out to be a near spot on mix. Breeksy had a whale of a time and we all arrived home safe and sound.

Genuinely a massive thank you to all 3 that managed to make it, and if you have made it this far through the report, I salute you - amazing achievement! :clap:

Yes the 24 hour challenge appeals to me, and maybe one day I will try complete it, but for now I have 248 Munros to complete first! :D

I'm not sure what report number this is, but it is without a doubt the longest and most difficult to write! Although slightly rushed in places, I promise I tried to keep mistakes to a minimum! :lol: 8) :lol:

As always a massive thanks for reading and your comments are greatly appreciated!
Andrew :)
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andygunn23
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby Petr Dakota » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:36 pm

Well done all of you !!! :clap: :clap: :clap:
Great experience, big adventure and unforgettable memories...I'm sure :D 8) :lol: :wink:
I know what it means to drive all the way between these mountains :lol: :crazy: :lol: - brought back my memories from June 2014 when I did it with my brother, but in the opposite way - started with Ben Nevis, then England and Wales :D
Good you enjoyed that without a rush :thumbup:
Congratulations and all the best for your next Munro's adventures !
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby dooterbang » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:59 pm

Great read of a wonderful adventure - well done lads :clap:

Crib Goch is amazing, as is the Snowdown Horseshoe.

I was up the Ben that day also. Was working at The Great Glencoe Challenge. After a 26 mile trek on Saturday by 400 people we took 25 brave souls up the Ben on the Sunday....probably passed you lot coming down :)

Cheers
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby andygunn23 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:28 pm

dooterbang wrote:Great read of a wonderful adventure - well done lads :clap:

Crib Goch is amazing, as is the Snowdown Horseshoe.

I was up the Ben that day also. Was working at The Great Glencoe Challenge. After a 26 mile trek on Saturday by 400 people we took 25 brave souls up the Ben on the Sunday....probably passed you lot coming down :)

Cheers


We drove through Glencoe on the Saturday evening, hope the weather wasn't like that all day! Never heard of the challenge, just looked into it - will definitely get signed up for that next year, I take it, it is always in July?

Think one of the earlier photos from Sunday could have been your group. We merged in for a while and sounded like a great challenge - hats off to those 25! (I think one said they get a medal, nothing beats a medal! :lol: )
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby AJNicholls » Fri Jul 08, 2016 1:37 pm

Nice one Andy. It was a National Three Peaks Challenge in Summer 2011 that got me started with this peak-bagging malarkey and I haven't looked back since.

Great pictures too. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby andygunn23 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:21 pm

AJNicholls wrote:Nice one Andy. It was a National Three Peaks Challenge in Summer 2011 that got me started with this peak-bagging malarkey and I haven't looked back since.

Great pictures too. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks! Well since 2011 you appear to have accumulated a fair few over the country! Impressive number of Munros being based down south... When (if) I complete maybe I will have to spend more time crossing the border!
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby simon-b » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:21 pm

Well done Andy. I like your original plan, sounded a lot better than the 24 hour mad rush, and would do the mountains justice. What a day you had on Snowdon. Then wise decisions to adapt your plans according to the weather later. a great achievement.
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby Sunset tripper » Sat Jul 09, 2016 6:06 pm

Nice one. It is a great way to do these mountains. Ive met 24 hour three peakers many times on the ben and some seem to think they own the path in their rush to beat some imaginary time limit. :roll: Me and a pal did a similar trip to yours a few years back. This was our accommodation at the Snowdon carpark :D
P1050178.JPG
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:59 pm

Love the sticky.pudding analogy and your report. So much better than the normal three peaks, more challenging and a superb route plan. Shame about the weather but at least you have a good excuse to go back to these great mountains.
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby trederdog 100 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:50 pm

Wow, Snowdon looks great with that ridge traverse - have to get there one day. Thanks for an enjoyable read, sounds like a good trip!
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby andygunn23 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:23 pm

Cairngorm creeper wrote:Love the sticky.pudding analogy and your report. So much better than the normal three peaks, more challenging and a superb route plan. Shame about the weather but at least you have a good excuse to go back to these great mountains.


Thanks, I actually nearly called the report the Sticky Toffee Pudding edition but didn't think anyone would get it! Haven't heard great review of the Pike but will 100% be back in Wales! As for the Ben I'm sure I will have many many many more walks up that over the next few decades (fingers crossed).
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Re: National Three Peaks Challenge - An Epic & Enjoyable Edi

Postby Silverhill » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:23 pm

That sounds like the best way to do the three peaks challenge. Great achievement! 8)
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