limbs During The 3 Peaks Challenge
In the UK, the 3 Peaks Challenge or National 3 Peaks Challenge as it is often referred to as, is a legendary weekend of adventure. So much so that it has moved very much into the mainstream and on certain weekends of the year (around the summer solstice) the slopes of the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales are often fairly busy places. This of course gets a few regular ramblers and fell runners who don't like the intrusion of part-timers slightly aggitated, but if one event can get people to experience the beauty of the highlands of Great Britain, get them out of the cities and get their hearts to beat a little faster, then fantastic, it's worth a little intrusion. After all there are more than 3 peaks in the UK.
The Three Peaks: Very different summit conditions within 24 hours - Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon
However, it's not to be taken lightly. The total distance hiked on the shortest route is around 36km (23.5m), and total height gained is over 3,000m (10,000+ft). The height gained is near the equivilent of climbing Mont Blanc. If you are doing the unofficial challenge of completing it within 24 hours (including the travel by road between each mountain - 769km or 478m), you will need to be well prepared, fit and ensure drivers are not climbing.
Here is the basic information for each section of the 3 Peaks Challenge. For the purpose of this article, I've gone from North to South, personally I have done it both ways and found North to South better becasue there is a great hikers cafe at the foot of Snowdon called Pete's Eats waiting for you once you complete your challenge (plus finishing on the biggest peak is exhausting!).
Scotland - Ben Nevis
Starting point - Glen Nevis nr Fort William
Height - 1344m (4409ft)
Ascent - 1352m (4436ft)
Watch outs - Often has a little snow all year round. There is a sheer 600m drop to the North East of the summit which is hard to sport in low cloud and snowy conditions.
Drive: Glen Nevis to Wasdale Head - 423km (262.6 miles)
England - Scafell Pike
Starting point - Wasdale Head nr Wast Water
Height - 978m (3209ft)
Ascent - 989m (3245ft)
Watch outs - There are some very tight roads to access Wasdale Head, our 1970's Bedford van didn't make it so we started on the other side of the mountain near Seathwaite which made Scafell Pike the longest slog of the three.
Drive: Wasdale Head to Pen-Y-Pass - 352km (219 miles)
Wales - Snowdon
Starting point - Pen-Y-Pass nr Llanberis
Height - 1085m (3560ft)
Ascent - 723m (2372ft)
Watch outs - The Pyg track is the shortest, steepest and more interesting route, there is another that tracks alongside the mountain railway direct out of Llanberis. There is a style after the first climb on the Pyg track route that takes you into the horseshoe of Snowdon. Go straight on, not right, otherwise you'll find yourself on the Crib Goch ridge which is a pretty tough scramble and best done with ropes and a helmet.