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Three Peaks Challenge




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A map of the United Kingdom showing the three mountains.

The Three Peaks Challenge is a challenge (a hard task or job) which involves climbing three British mountains (a peak is the top of a mountain) in less than 24 hours. The three mountains are the highest of each of the three countries in the island of Great Britain.

Each year many people attempt (try) to do the challenge to raise money for charity. They do this by getting their friends and family to sponsor them (give them money). Many people do not do the challenge for charity. They do it simply because they enjoy walking in the mountains and they want to try something hard. These people usually do it in small groups. Some of them will do the walking, and others will do the driving and the cooking for them. Some people have completed the challenge very quickly. The record is fifteen hours.

Reasons why some people do not like the challenge

Recently, the challenge has become more popular. People who live near the mountains often do not like having cars around in the middle of the night. Conservation groups blame people doing the challenge for dropping litter and damaging the landscape. Some people park their cars in inconsiderate places. Thousands of people attempt the challenge each year. Supporters of the challenge say that only a few people cause these problems, and most behave well.

The usual route

Most attempts are made in the summer, because the days are long and the weather is good. In the winter it is dark for most of the day and can be very cold. The weather up the mountains can change very quickly, and some people die in blizzards (storms of snow) in the winter. Most people who attempt the challenge use the same route, because it is the easiest way of doing the challenge in 24 hours.

They start with Ben Nevis at about five o'clock. It takes about three hours to climb this mountain, so they reach the summit (the top) at about eight o'clock, and return to the bottom at about ten o'clock. In the summer it is still light in Britain at this time. If people start climbing Ben Nevis too early they will arrive at Scafell Pike too early the next morning and it will still be dark. It is important to be quick at the bottom of the mountains. There is not much time so food is usually prepared by others waiting at the bottom. When the climbers arrive they usually leave immediately and eat while they are on the road.

The next mountain is Scafell Pike, in the Lake District of northern England. The journey between Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike is longer than the journey between Scafell Pike and Snowdon. This is why it is done at night, when it is too dark to climb. The journey takes six or seven hours, and the walkers usually go to sleep. The next morning they arrive at Scafell Pike at about half past four. In the summer it is light by this time. Scafell Pike is not as high as the other mountains, but is harder.

If it is climbed quickly enough and the walkers do not get lost they can return to the bottom by about nine o'clock. It takes several hours to get to Snowdon in Wales. The walkers are usually very tired and worried that there is not enough time. If they arrive at the bottom of Snowdon at half past one in the afternoon they can climb it in two hours. This leaves them an hour and a half to get back to the bottom. If they were too slow on the other mountains or the journeys in between they might have to run!

You need to be quite fit to do the challenge in 24 hours, but people who are young and active, and people who are used to hillwalking, can do it. Compared to some mountains in the world, all the mountains in Britain are small. If the weather is bad or the drivers are slow it is very hard.

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