Regardless of how fit you think you may be I would certainly recommend a few training walks, and a few hard gym sessions before attempting this challenge. Certainly if you are out of shape or rarely do any exercise this challenge will not be enjoyable. Although this is a walking challenge, it is not a leisurely stroll down to the shops.
I am a keen runner and regularly run up to half marathon distances so am pretty fit. I also go fell walking in the Lake District and mountain walking in Scotland every so often, and have completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge twice in recent years. However, I have found that I still needed to improve my walking fitness and wasn’t as strong at the ascents as I wanted to be.
We decided that in the months leading up to the challenge we would do some training by tackling Scafell Pike and Snowdon individually. Both of these mountains are relatively close by as our group all live in Manchester. Unfortunately Ben Nevis was too far for us to go up for a training walk. I have put some comments and photos from our training walks below.
Sunday 29 June 2008 – Snowdon
After an early rise on a Sunday and a two hour drive to North Wales Will and I set about tackling Snowdon. We parked at Nant Peris due to the lack of space at the Pen-y-Pass car park, and caught the Sherpa bus back to Pen-y-Pass.
The weather was overcast and we started in drizzle with temperatures around 12-15°C. Decided against waterproof trousers. We took the Pyg Track up and made relatively swift progress and the rain continued to worsen. After a quick stop at the summit we started done this time using the Miners Track which provided very easy going once we had negotiated the steep descent to Glaslyn. We decided that on the day we would probably use Miners up and down. Inevitably the weather improved as we were heading back, and the summit previously enveloped in cloud and rain when we were there was now surrounded by blue sky.
Whilst waiting for the bus back we saw some of Will’s friends arriving who were attempting the challenge that weekend. They quickly headed off as they were pushed for time, and we heard later they completed the challenge in 23hrs 40mins.
Good day although we did get soaked. Dried off in the pub afterwards.
Time – 3hrs 15mins
Me looking very wet at the summit
Will also looking wet
Looking down on the way back
Looking back to a cloud free summit thirty minutes later!
Sunday 20 June 2008 - Scafell Pike
Again another early start, although a longer drive to get to Wasdale Head which took just under 3 hours (about 1hr 50mins of which was after we left the M6). Good weather, a bit warmer then Snowdon in June, and certainly drier.
We parked on Wasdale Head Green and took the path from there. Path was well defined and soon got to the crossing point for Lingmell Beck. We then kept motoring on stopping very briefly every so often, mainly so I could catch up with Will. As soon as we reached the windy summit we quickly put an extra layer on and gloves as it is amazing how quickly we started getting cold once we were no longer climbing. After a quick break we headed down. Fairly quick progress until the rocky path just before the crossing which I found a bit tricky. We took the path towards the National Trust campsite and car park, and we decided on the day we would go up and come down this way. We then walked along the road to the car in Wasdale Head.
Time – 3hrs to the NT campsite
Me around half way up
View down towards Wastwater
Barren summit plateau
View from summit
Another view from summit
We weren't actually trying to look gay here
Sunday 27 July 2008 - Snowdon
Yet another early start for the two hour journey to Nant Peris for our final practise walk. Fortunately the weather was better than the last walk up Snowdon in June, although now it was too warm. Hopefully we will get our Goldilocks weather for the challenge day itself (i.e. just right!).
Parked at Nant Peris and got the Snowdon Sherpa bus to Pen-y-Pass. We started at 10.15am and decided to go up and down the Miners' Track which is the route we will take on the day. We managed to get to the foot of the steep climb on the north side of Glaslyn in just over an hour. We then had the hard climb up to the junction with the Pyg Track, and a further steep climb to get on to the Llanberis path next to the railway line. We made it to a crowded summit and stopped for some much needed rest and water in the heat. We then had a relatively fast descent along the same route, and made good time due to dry weather which meant no slippery rocks to negotiate. After the long walk along Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw we eventually made it back to Pen-y-Pass car park by 1.30pm, just in time for the arrival of the bus back to the car park. After sorting ourselves out at the car we headed for the pub for more drinks (non-alcoholic).
Hopefully we will not have quite such a warm day in two weeks, although we are confident that we can handle it and get a good time if so.
Time – 3hrs 15mins
Alexis and Marc on the open top Sherpa bus
Looking up to Snowdon
View across Glaslyn
Marc at the Miners'-Pyg Track junction
Alexis at the Miners'-Pyg Track junction
Marc on the summit
Alexis on the summit
View from the summit
View across Glaslyn