We did it, and we did it in style. The English UK team completed the Three Peaks Challenge under a glorious full moon on the top of Snowdon on Saturday night. Along the way there was laughter, determination, minimal sleep, and over £15,000 raised for the Eddie Byers Scholarship Fund, our motivation for the challenge.
Seventeen members of the extended English UK family took part, with a core group tackling Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, and others bringing fresh legs and new enthusiasm for the final mountain. Between teatime on Friday and bedtime on Saturday we walked 26 miles, with 2,926 metres of climb, and drove around 462 miles.
It was incredibly tough at times but we had great support from BusyBus drivers, Peter O'Regan and Frank Turner, an assortment of homemade flapjacks, breakfast cookies and brownies, and our fantastic mountain guide, Jon Lean, who marshalled walkers with differing levels of fitness and experience through moonlight and mist.
We started our challenge on Ben Nevis, accompanied by Sam Byers, Eddie's wife, and her friend. Just over half-way up, our mood was boosted when a rare bit of phone signal told us that we'd hit our £15,000 target - and we cheered all our generous sponsors.
At the top, in swirling mist and semi-darkness, Sam fished a bottle of Glenmorangie from her backpack to toast Eddie. And then she added: "I've brought him with me," and showed us the photograph she was carrying. It was an emotional moment, in an emotional weekend.
The wet, darkness and an unexpected knee injury meant it was after midnight by the time we got back to the minibus and Jon explained that we'd now have trouble completing the challenge at all, let alone on time: it would only be possible if we could do Scafell Pike in just four hours.
So at 8am, after a night on the road with very little sleep, seven walkers set off to conquer Scafell Pike, acutely aware that the whole challenge rested on doing this at a good pace. It was hard work but we were rewarded with astonishing views and lots of support from descending walkers who were also doing the Three Peaks.
Four and a quarter hours later, we were back at the minibus and off to Wales to meet those joining for the last leg.
With lots of fresh legs and enthusiasm, we got up Snowdon via the Pyg track, enjoying spectacular views and the rise of a bright full moon. Three hours and a scramble later we took our final summit photo and stopped the clock at 28 hours and 55 minutes. Finally, we scrambled down and walked the moonlit Miners' Path back to the car park, where our transport was awaiting - and also that final toast to Eddie's memory.
It was a challenge in every sense of the word, but also a privilege and a pleasure. Thank you everyone for your support, we are overwhelmed by your kind words and generosity.
And for those for whom seeing is believing, there is still time to donate to support our challenge and the Eddie Byers Scholarship!
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