The 3 Peaks Challenge UK involves scaling some of mainland Britain’s highest mountains in just 24 hours. That’s Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England and Snowdon in Wales: A combined horizontal trek of 42 km spiced with a collective elevation of 3000 metres.
You don’t have to complete the climbs in that order, but most participants start in Scotland and work down. Also, if the thought of stuffing three ascents and descents into one day and one night doesn’t appeal to you, then why not devote a weekend and enjoy a more leisurely pace? One thing is for sure: However you order your journey and whatever your speed, completing the 3 Peaks UK makes for an exhilarating experience that will give you a huge sense of achievement.
If you are relatively new to hiking then you’ve got a mountain to climb, but the following tips should get you off on the right foot.
1) Travel as a team
Unless you’re after some serious thinking time, the Challenge is most rewarding when you’re part of a team. Just the training aspect allows you to have fun with friends as you help one another get in the best shape possible. If adventurous friends aren’t in abundance, suggest the Challenge as a team-bonding exercise in work. Large groups should consider forming two tiers - one slower, one faster, giving all parties the best chance of getting to the end in good spirits.
2) Designated driver
Misplaced bravado might prompt trekkers to think they can handle the driving as well as the climbing, but shuttling the team by day and night is a challenge in itself. Group safety is paramount: Have a designated driver who will wait at the bottom of each mountain and rest while the team climbs. If you are completing the Challenge through a professional organisation, travel should already be sorted out, allowing you to focus solely on walking up, and up and up….
A few long walks and a couple of days in the gym simply won’t cut it. You need to be regularly clocking up extended hikes, preferably in a range of weather conditions in footwear that you are used to wearing and which will be used for the Challenge itself. If you book your 3 Peaks Challenge through a charity or specialist adventure organisation, you will be provided with an itinerary detailing how best to prepare your body for the rigours of the 24 hour hike.
Beneath a waterproof top layer and trousers, you will need garments that are insulating, lightweight and, most importantly, breathable - this means that moisture will wick away from your skin letting you stay as warm and comfortable as possible. A hat and scarf are essential, as is a top-quality hiking jacket. Worn-in hiking boots will maximise your comfort and specialised walking socks will give you extra padding where it’s needed while maintaining all-important breathability. Blister plasters may well save you and your team-mates from climbing into a whole new world of podiatry pain as the miles clock up. Click here for a more in-depth look at the kind of kit you require.
5) Plan your nutrition
Maintain a carb-heavy diet in the week prior to the event to maximise your energy levels for the big day. Again, professional organisations provide guidelines on rations you should be taking with you which should consist of high-energy snacks and drinks. Avoid heavy refuelling during your trek - your body and stomach will already be under physical stress, particularly after summiting. Beginning a descent by stuffing yourself full of Kendal Mint Cake and Lucozade will have undesired, messy, effects. Do not drink any alcohol before or during the event - leave that for when you get back to Llanberris in north Wales, if you have the energy.
6) Attitude of altitude
No-one’s expecting you to turn into Julie Andrews but a smile on your face and a song in your heart will really help when fatigue sets in and tempers begin to fray. Tiredness affects people in different ways, so be ready to be a shoulder to cry on or a source of motivation when the Von Trapp spirit wanes. By all means take an MP3 player and chill out during the road-trips but don’t fill the hills with the sound of music: Successful, safe completion of the Challenge depends on you being firmly tuned in to your environment and those around you.
7) Do it for charity
This is a great opportunity to raise some money for good causes and let the Challenge’s benefits touch people and communities you’ve never even met. The fundraising process is fun and constructive in itself: Obtain materials from your chosen charity to add branding to your sponsorship campaign. You could host a car wash morning or spend a few hours packing shopping bags at a local supermarket, but make sure you ring up and ask permission first. Many charities offer full accommodation and travel packages to complete the Challenge in return for your raising of sponsor money.
The 3 Peaks Challenge fits three countries, rosy-cheeked exercise and mountains of fun into 24 energy-infused hours. If you don’t mind rolling your sleeves up and getting your head down to some serious adventure, then this is the Challenge for you: From strolling through quiet fields, to wobbling over boulders and scree-ridden slopes, to following a plodding trail of glow sticks up into the stars as you summit Snowdon, your 3 Peaks will give you memories that will last long after the muscles have stopped aching.
For more information on this and other similar challenges, check out: