Everything You Need To Know To Plan And Climb The Three Peaks Challenge
The Three Peaks Challenge is a classic UK adventure where you will attempt to conquer the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in under 24 hours.
You will walk 23 miles, climb over 3000 meters and drive 450 miles. Its exhausting, exciting and a real ‘once in a life time’ trip. Although there are some operators who will organise this the trip for you – planning it and doing it yourself will be all the more gratifying. Here is how to get started.
When to go?
The Three Peaks is best done as close to the summer solstice as possible to maximise daylight hours but can be done anytime April – November. There is a lot of discussion around timings, the option below allows you to climb all three mountains in light (based of doing this in June).
Although the challenge is 24 hours long, you can also do it in 2-3 days. You will need the full 2 days (or a weekend) to do the challenge and get to and from the start and end points. Lots of teams will do this as weekends, for quieter mountains mid week is better
How hard is it?
Hard! Route-finding is generally pretty easy in decent weather but can get challenging in foggy, wet or dark conditions. It is physically taxing, you will be doing around 12 hours of mountainous ascent and decent across the three.
Do I drive?
Short answer, no! Having done the 3 peaks a few times and driven on all, I would not recommend it – tiredness will really kick in and while its possible to drive, it could also be potentially dangerous and you risk falling asleep at the wheel. For that reason would recommend having a support driver who can also prepare car snacks and allow you to focus on the mountains.
Ben Nevis (Scotland): 8am start
Starting in the Ben Nevis visitor centre, follow the well-marked path to the summit. The path although well trodden becomes progressively steeper up onto the plateau which often has snow on it in the summer. This is an out and back route (come back the same way you go up) and should aim to do it in 4 -5 hours.
Driving: Ben Nevis > Sca Fell Pike (5h45 driving)
The start and the end of this drive are nothing short of epic. You will go through Glen Coe (scene of James Bond, Skyfall) then lots of boring motorway to entering the rolling mountains of the lake district.
Climbing: Scafell Pike, 6pm Start.
The shortest route of the three but also the most likely to get lost. You will have to walk through the boulder field which in good weather is easy to route find, but in misty/cloudy weather difficult. The approach to the top is a relatively short climb up, and marked with cairns all the way up. Go back the same way.
Coming off Scafell you should now be tired and getting towards 10pm is the perfect time to rest up
Driving: Sca Fell Pike > Snowdon (4h30 driving)
At this point you shoulf be sleeping!
Climbing Snowdon (4am start)
Hopefully you will be treated with clear skies, early morning giving you the best chance of no cloud cover. Aching muscles are being asked to go again one last time – the easiest way up to the Summit is an out and back route up the Miners track. It is also the dullest route (and for some more adventurous options, read about those here), but on tired legs you probably won’t care.
Well done! You have finished. Whether done in the time limit or not becomes academic – it’s a great achievement and you should head down for a victory breakfast at Moel Siabod Café – you have earned it and won’t be disappointed by the food.
If this has got you excited….the Welsh 3000s awaits next.
This blog was written by good mountain friend, Fred Newton. We climbed Aconcagua at the end of 2018 and he was by far one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I have ever come across on my high altitude adventures. He also happens to be the very talented and inspiring Founder behind "My Adventure Hub" - a fantastic company offering bespoke and wild adventures across the UK. If you are considering an adventure in the UK then I could not recommend Fred and his team more highly. You can reach on firstname.lastname@example.org