Three Guys, Three Peaks – 24hr Challenge (UK)

Three Guys, Three Peaks – 24hr Challenge (UK)

So here it is. This is how I’m going to die.

31 years young, surrounded by my lovably-immature gaggle of work mates, up a dark mountain.

One day over lunch at work (as where all good-but-wholly-unbacked ideas start) we decided to commit to completing the National (UK) Three Peaks Challenge without much prior knowledge and background research.

For those of you who don’t know what the 3PC (that’s what we’ll call it from now) is, it is the scaling of the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales inside 24hrs.

Off the back of doing Tough Mudder last year, I figured this was just another notch up the Richta scale.

Upon doing some early planning I’ve since come to realise: This is several notches OFF the Richta scale!

Before I continue, I’m just going to leave this here…

The Plan

After finishing work on the Friday (29th April 2016) in London, we’re going to get a train up to Glasgow in Scotland with the sole intention of bedding down for the night. We should get there at a comfortable 8.30pm which gives us ample time to find our hostel, carb-load and mentally psyche each other up for the day ahead (read: sample the local whisky).

At 9am we pick up our little car (and I mean little!) Four hours on the road in the morning will get us to Fort William and by 1.30pm we should be setting off to tackle our first peak – Ben Nevis, which at 1344m is the highest of the three peaks and takes around 5 hours to get up and down.

We should complete the mountain easily in full daylight and be on the road by 6.30pm ready for the (almost) 6 hr drive to the next mountain.

About 2/3rds of the way down to Wales is Scafell Pike (978m) in the Lake District which to get to, involves skirting the western edge of the Lake District before turning off near Gosforth which sits several miles off the coast which overlooks the Isle of Man. To stay on track we need to park up around 00.30am. This one will  be tricky as it will be entirely in the dark so we have to rely on our torches, compasses and maps.

Having completed Scafell, finally we shoot off towards Snowdon (1085m) on the North-western tip of Wales around 4.30am to get to the base around 9am to complete the challenge. If the gods are with us we should be able to catch a nice sunrise (assuming we can keep our eyes open!)

We should then be able to summit Snowdon in full daylight and make the most of the most picturesque of the 3 mountain views. By this point we should be stumbling towards the car (and then on to bed) around lunchtime.

As long as we’re back at the car by 1.30pm we’ll have completed the challenge.

All in, this requires just over 10hrs of driving according to Google Maps which given that Scafell Pike and Snowdon take 4 hrs and 3 hrs respectively, this will total 22 hours. Of course, we fully expect things to slow us down and not go as planned so these extra two hours are a welcome buffer.

Oh, and did I mention we’re driving in a little Audi A1!?

Yup, this thing. So much for stretching out between climbs…

Audi A1 - Not the best choice of car for driving the 500 miles / 10 hours between the 3 peaks!

Itinerary (at a glance)

  1. [0800] Wake up
  2. [0900] Pick up car and drive to foot of Ben Nevis
  3. [1330] Start challenge / start ascent of BN
  4. [1830] Return to base of Ben Nevis
  5. [1830-0015] Drive to Scafell Pike
  6. [0030] Start ascent of SP
  7. [0430] Return to base of Scafel Pike
  8. [0430-0900] Drive to Snowdon
  9. [0900] Start ascent of SND
  10. [1200-1330] Return to base of SDN / Finish challenge


The Training

OK, so I consider myself fairly fit; I can run 5-6 miles fairly comfortably, I go to the gym twice a week, I play football & various sports occasionally, and I am currently 50 push-ups into a 100 push-ups-in-one-go challenge. I realise none of this really helps you scale a mountain with a heavy rucksack and truth be told, I have no idea what I am capable of in this setting and how hard this is going to be. Therefore, #training.

Here’s the preparation I did for the challenge…

  • [12th March 2016] With two months to go I bought my first ever walking boots and gave them a test drive that weekend. Six miles of hill walking suggests they should be alright up the mountains.
  • [25th March 2016] Mum, Fiance, me & Ashridge hills. Good Friday, and good it was – apart from the congregated Easter egg-hunting kids, the trio of geese that chased me and the fact that the pubs stopped serving food at 2.30pm, right when we’d finished.
  • [3rd April 2016] Now we’re getting somewhere. Another 6 miles up and down the local hill set – this time, more faster.
  • [17th April 2016] HIIT training. We pushed the sofa to the back of the living room and followed along with this guy for his 15 minute high intensity work out. Couldn’t walk up the stairs for two days…

The Rules

To stay within the boundaries of the challenge, you need to walk up the full height of the three mountains and down again before getting in the car and travelling to the next. All three must be scaled in 24 hours or less regardless of traffic, weather etc. Time starts at the base of the first mountain and finishes at the bottom of the last mountain. That’s it. Simples.


The three of us are very much those who want to experience as much of what this life has to offer and push our own boundaries – the 3PC is another way to test said boundaries.

More importantly, we’re doing it to raise money for a charity we’ve each known for several years now

Vital Statistics

  • Total Elevation: 3407m (11,170ft) – that’s just over 1/3 of Everest, or 11 Eiffel Towers!
  • Total Walking Distance: Circa 42 km (26 mi) – a whole marathon
  • Total Driving Distance: 477 miles
  • Calories Burnt: Over 6000 (= 19.5 cheeseburgers)

The Packing List

Packing list for the Three Peaks Challenge - what equipment and clothing to take

The basics…

Starting from the ground up:

  • Walking boots
  • Walking socks (and lining socks)
  • Comfortable, lightweight trousers (preferably waterproof, not jeans!)
    • & Thermal base layers in the winter
    • Or shorts in the summer (day time)
  • Base-layer top
  • Several tee shirts
  • Fleece/thermals
  • Wind/rainproof jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Beanie (& sun hat in summer)
  • Head torch
  • Rucksack (waterproof, or with cover)
  • Gloves
  • Map & compass (plus GPS?)
  • Personal first aid kit (sun cream, blister plasters, pain killers)
  • Camera
  • 2L of water per mountain

For the van/car/bus:

  • Change of clothes for after the event & spare comfy shoes
  • Sleeping bag/blanket & pillow
  • Wash kit

And for the super-prepared…

  • Spare laces
  • Walking poles
  • Hand warmers
  • Neck scalf
  • Bottles of water to leave in the car
  • Whistle
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Headphones/earplugs (to help get some sleep)
  • Survival blanket
  • Insect repellent
  • Flask for hot drinks

The Snacking List

  • Dried fruit & nuts
  • Cereal bars
  • Energy gels
  • Carb meals e.g. pasta/rice meals (enough for 24 hrs of meals)
  • Flapjacks
  • Malt Loaf
  • Chocolate bars

[Download a printable checklist here]

I’ll document all the build up and actual completion here. More content to come…

Further resources: http://www.nationalthreepeaks.co/Equipmentandpreparation.html