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Three Peaks Challenge in Scotland that benefits AfA

August 21, 2009

Three Peaks Challenge

Programmes Director Emily Hatfield coordinated a team that embarked on an intense physical challenge to raise money towards a media workshop for The Kids League Uganda. This workshop will train 12 disabled children from across the ability spectrum to use film/ media to explore their identity and environment. The objective is to promote integration whilst building perspectives and generating mutual respect.The challenge involved climbing Britain’s three highest peaks – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – all within 24 hours.

Written by Richard French of the British Council

After spending a relaxing evening savouring the delights of Glasgow’s nightlife – only fruit juice for us as we wanted to feel fresh for the challenge ahead – the team was in good spirits as we gathered at the foot of Ben Nevis. A group photo and a few quick, half-hearted stretches later, we set off on our climb.

It was a sunny afternoon on Ben Nevis, and the mountain path was thronging with ramblers, runners and other fearless 3-peakers. I soon realised that borrowing walking boots from a slightly smaller-footed friend is a false economy as the money I would have saved is bound to be spent on plasters. A quick stop at a creek helped refresh the spirits, and we push on up the steepening mountain path.

We come across a snow field in the middle of summer – what a pleasant surprise. After two and a half hours of solid uphill walking, we finally reached the peak, much faster than we had anticipated. After an assortment of snacks has been passed around the group of smiling faces and a few victory photos taken on top of the mount, we head back down. The monotony of the descent is broken up with an epic game of 20 questions. A nice hot plate of pasta awaits us back at base campus and then we pile back in to the minibuses for the 8 hour drive to the Lake district.

I always thought my long legs were a help rather than hindrance; however, where exactly to lay my legs keeps me awake for most of the drive, and I only manage two hours sleep. The second climb begins at 0600 hours, and we only have a few minutes to stretch out our stiff limbs. Scafell Pike is a short, steep climb that in the early morning sun requires a lot of gritting of teeth to get to the top in just over an hour. Pride at having reached the top so quickly, with what seemed like so little energy left in my legs, is the predominant feeling at the peak. The walk down is just as tough, particularly on the knees, as I’m really starting to wonder how I got myself in to this mess in the first place! A few swift stretches and cursory inspection in to the state of my feet before we’re back on the bus for the comparatively short drive (a mere 4 hours!) to North Wales.

The atmosphere on the bus is surprisingly good – everyone’s wide awake and excited to get to Snowdon as soon as possible. It’s a race against the clock to get there on time. The final ascent! We take the short, quick route to the top – realising short and quick are shorthand for very steep. After 45 minutes climbing we’re making good progress and the peak is in sight – we are in such high spirits that we even find the energy to break in to a jog. The top now only looks a hop, skip and a jump away – it turns out it is a hop, skip, climb, hop, jump, climb, climb away. With heavy lungs and tired legs, we finally make it to the top. The feeling of absolute exhilaration amongst the group is clear for everyone to see. 30 minutes, tea, muffins and midges later, we blissfully head downwards, singing through the back catalogue the Beatles.

Having now put my experience in to perspective, it’s hard to believe what can happen in just a single day, 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. If I was asked to do this again next year, I would jump at the chance.

Please visit our website to see photos of the Three Peaks Challenge.

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