• Sarah

The British Three Peaks Challenge

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

British Three Peaks

The British Three Peaks challenge is an event that hikers and climbers attempt, to reach the summit of the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours. It is frequently completed as a way to fundraise for charitable organisations. Walkers climb each peak in turn and are driven from the foot of one mountain to the next.

To achieve the challenge in 24 hours is not easy and not to be underestimated by novice walkers. However, there is no reason why you can't complete this challenge in your own way and in your own time. Wild Dunk decided to take on the challenge for himself and the only time scale was to achieve all three peaks in one year.

Ben Nevis / Beinn Nibheis (1,345 m or 4,413 ft). The highest mountain in Scotland.

It's a long climb, approx 17km from the Ben Nevis visitors centre to summit and back. We climbed in good weather, with a few rest stops on the switchbacks on the way up. The climb to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe gave several opportunities for photography, as the peaks surrounding are beautiful.

The switchbacks just after the lake felt the hardest part of the accent and the snow layer started soon after. You'll feel the drop in temp. Some sections from there were challenging without the correct footwear for ice/snow. Once the plateau was reached the going got a lot easier.

There are a few ruined buildings (previously a weather station) at the summit worth an investigation. And the queuing for the inevitable pictures wasn't too bad.

The descent was fine until after the switchbacks, which were hard on the knees.

Recommend taking walking poles for this one. It made the last 5-6km hard going back to the car.

You can also read about Andy Cole's amazing adventure to climb Ben Nevis every day for a month while raising awareness about depression and funds for the Lochaber Mountain Rescue.

Scafell Pike (978 m or 3,209 ft). The highest mountain in England.

We climbed on a dry warm day. Sunlight not adding too much to the temperature at 7am. Crossing the bridge at the bottom, we noted the stream was very low, 2019 was a very dry summer.

The steps to the top begin from there, the path is very well made, and it needs to be because the climb is at the limit before switchbacks would be needed. So it turns out to be a hard climb, we'd heard from 3 peak climbers that this one is the hardest of the three and they were not wrong.

Much of the climb is alongside the stream Lingmell Gill. Which was wonderfully cold where we crossed it. Plenty of rest stops on the way we took the more traditional route (left hook) rather than up the middle through Lord's rake. Mostly because the path has been build on that route.

On the day the path was still being improved, so we enquired when the bar was going to be built. The national trust guys, I am sure, have heard that one before. Once we'd passed them the climb gets harder, still very steep but the screen moves when you walk on it, making every step a chore. Once we arrived at the top we were glad we made it. It's a challenging climb. Oddly there was a swarm of insects right at the top, which chased us from the peak pretty soon after the photos.

Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m or 3,560 ft). The highest mountain in Wales.

Route: Miners track up and Llanberis down

Snowdon has so many choices of route, we knew we wanted to descend the Llanberis Path down to the hotel, so it was ruled out for the ascent. We elected to choose between Pyg track and miners track depending on where the cloud layer was. With the low cloud, miners path up was chosen. It also gave us a chance to have a look at the various buildings the miners had built.

We tried to use the sherpa bus to get round to the start, but a no show by the morning bus shot that down. We were lucky enough to have two cars so drove one round (to be collected after).

With low cloud and light drizzle, we set off. The path at the start is exceptionally well made, up to road standard. And compared to both Ben Nevis and Skarfel Pike the incline is comfortable.

Skirting the first lake (Llyn Teyrn) and ruins of a row of buildings the incline picks up a bit toward the split lake (Llyn Llydaw). On the day the wind was mainly from a northerly direction, so this was the first exposure to a stronger breeze. On the north shore is the largest of the buildings, what appears to have been a warehouse. Fenced off for safety on the day.

As we climbed up to the last of the lakes (Glaslyn) the cloud was just above, giving the bowl the lake is in the feeling of being indoors, enclosed. Quite an odd feeling considering the location. On the north shore just after the last of the ruins, the path begins the more challenging route up to the Pyg track.

Unfortunately, this is where one of us injured a knee, and we debated turning back to extract vs. continuing to climb to use the train to extract the injured party. We elected to use the train for extraction. As this was a much shorter choice for the injured party.

As we climbed up onto the Llanberis Path the weather greeted us with much stronger wind, now we were exposed to it directly. But the Llanberis path is relatively benign in incline, so we were able to support our injured colleague to the train station. Beware, because most people using the train also buy a return, it took some time to extract via train. He has vowed to retry and complete the climb in the future.

The remainder of the party completed the short climb to the summit, for photos squinting into the wind/rain. The Llanberis decent was long and mostly easy on the knees but saves it's the steepest part for just before Llanberis itself.

The total distance walked over the three peaks is estimated at 42 kilometres (26 mi), with a total ascent of 9,800 feet (3,000 m).

Over To You

Now it is your turn to share with us your stories. If you have completed in the 24 hours three peaks challenge or done your version of the event, we would love to hear from you. You can comment below or find us on social media @AdventureAccess using hashtag #AdventureWild.

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