Bleary eyed but raring to go
Our journey began the day before, when we all made the long trip up from Hertfordshire. We were in good spirits, but the traffic on the M6 soon put paid to that. We arrived in the North Yorkshire village of Ingleton later than expected on Thursday night, with three of the group eventually turning up at 12.30am!
Bleary eyed, we rolled out of bed at 5am for a 6am start from nearby Ribblehead, home of the spectacular railway viaduct. Ahead of us lay a 24.5-mile circuit to be completed in under 12 hours.
With breakfast in our belly and enthusiasm filling our hearts, we tightened our boots in preparation for the ascent of the first peak of the day — Whernside (736 metres). Unlike our later challenges, this proved to be a steady climb and we made the ascent in good time, arriving just after 8am.
Watching the sunrise as we ascended to the top of the peak was a special moment for us all, especially as we couldn’t see anyone else for miles around.
We then realised that no-one tells you about the descending part of the Three Peaks Challenge. We thought this would be the easy bit, but this section proved very tricky with loose gravel on steep slopes.
Whernside (Peak 1) to Ingleborough (Peak 2)
Fortunately, it was only a short journey to the next peak — Ingleborough (723m). Like Whernside, this started with a gentle slope, but it had a surprise in store as we were faced with a sheer wall of rock we had to zig-zag up. This looked daunting, but after a few deep breaths we all knuckled down and supported each other. Our teamwork was magnificent, and we stopped to read some inspiring messages sent from our colleagues back home, along with an update on the donations to Tom’s Trust. .
We made it to the peak just before midday, and met a kind-hearted walker who took our picture and made a donation on the spot to Tom’s Trust.
The final peak – Pen-y-Ghent
However, we weren’t allowed to rest for long as we pushed on towards the third and final peak of the day — Pen-y-Ghent (694m). This trek across country was longer than we anticipated on uneven paths, which took their toll on our sore feet. Several of us were suffering from blisters at this point and took the opportunity to change our socks.
When we reached the bottom of the peak we felt we were on the home straight, and we split into smaller groups so we could all go at our own pace. The gentle rise of the lower fields soon gave way to harder climbing and scrambling, which tested everyone’s fear of heights. But we all made it to the top, which was a great achievement and posed for our final “T for Tom” photo.
The elation we felt at the top of the peak soon gave way to the toughest point of the whole challenge as we had an eight-mile hike back to the car. By this time we were all nursing aches and pains, and when we saw the Ribblehead viaduct we still had another three miles to go. However, the team spirit was simply awesome and I will never forget how everyone cheered each other on as we finally made it back to the cars.
For the record, the UHY team who took on the challenge consisted of Alison Price, Andrew Williams, Nick Harrison, Ryan White, Stuart Hutchison, Steven Giles, James Hewitt, Nicola Scully, Emily Goodacre, Zoe Underwood, Sam Robson, Gemma Harvey and me.
We then hobbled back to our hostel for running repairs before a pub meal and a prize-giving ceremony of certificates. There were also some special awards:
- Cheerleader - Nick Harrison who inspired and motivated everyone along the way.
- The Practical - Alison Price who brought water for everyone, acted as taxi driver and did a planning recce two weeks before the event.
- Most unprepared - Ryan White who spent the day before breaking in his boots by walking round the office and then reading the instructions in the car on the way up
- Determinator - Gemma Harvey and Sam Robson who had their struggles but both made it to the end with sheer grit and determination.
- Duracell bunny - Andrew Williams for his boundless energy, who ran the last mile!
I’m really proud to have taken part in this challenge with such a great team and for a good cause. Not only the UHY team that took on the challenge who supported each other all the way round but also everyone back at the office who were cheering us on all day and all our friends, family and clients who have donated to Tom’s Trust.
We’ve raised enough to provide psychological support to 4 children with brain tumours and up to 12 family members for a whole year. That’s definitely worth sore legs and numerous blisters!
If you would like to donate to Tom’s Trust there is still time. You can find our just giving page here: https://bit.ly/3zeKQgW
Some photos along the way!