The time had finally arrived for our Lakes Peaks Challenge for the British Heart Foundation. Ever since January, when our Charity of the Year was announced, everything had been geared to this moment.
Training schedules had been drawn up - Macc Forest and Teggs Nose had been visited (regularly) and there’d even been a trip to Snowdon at the height of the heatwave.
The kit list had been scrutinised - waterproofs, rucksacks and head torches all purchased - and walking boots well and truly broken in. A survival bag had even been loaned by one worried family member!
After experiencing the joys of the M6 on a Friday afternoon, we finally arrived at our youth hostel. We were ready ... well, sort of!
Alarms went off at 5.O0am and we kitted ourselves out in many, many layers together with walking poles, water bottles and bulging rucksacks. Of course, we‘d made sure these were packed full of plasters, jelly babies and suntan cream (somewhat unnecessary as will become apparent!). It’s certainly safe to say that never had so many sugary snacks been taken up one mountain by one group in one day!
The challenge is described by the organisers as the ultimate test of strength, endurance and determination. It turned out they weren’t joking! The trek is set up so that participants can tackle 3, 5 or 8 peaks in the surroundings of the Great Langdale valley. It includes some extremely varied terrain with very steep ascents and descents of rugged and demanding mountains, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England at 978 metres high.
We had our energy bars; we were ready!
By 6.15am, we were assembling at Sticklebarn for our safety briefing. It was a great sight to see over 100 people, all in their red BHF T shirts, ready to stride out. And at this point, the sky was blue and the sun was shining….
We had our ClientsFirst team photo taken at the start and we were off.
The route started by winding through the valley by the river before starting a fairly gruelling ascent of Rossett Ghyll for an hour and a half. At this point, we were all divided into groups of about 20. The guys from ClientsFirst (Chris Brown, Steve Mattison Jon Dean and Matt Wood) went in one group and the girls (Ellen Adams, Fern Maguire, Gemma Hayes, Jenny Mawson, Lizzie Galley and Lindsey Russell) in another.
It was time to start scaling some peaks!
It was a great feeling to reach our first summit, which was Rossett Pike. We were even greeted by a rainbow - a fitting symbol for the day. Our ever cheerful rep from the BHF, Nick, produced a flag for photos and announced he’d got a fact or statistic about their work to share at the top of each peak. It proved a great reminder as to why we were doing it all.
The sun was shining, we’d ‘bagged’ our first peak, what could possibly go wrong... ?
On we trekked… Allen Crags was the second peak and it was from there that the rain started to come down… and the mist began to swirl... and the wind began to howl...
Undeterred, waterproofs were donned and off we went. Onwards and… upwards!
Scafell Pike was next - this had always been billed as the really scary one! It’s England’s highest mountain at 978m and is accessed by two massive boulder fields. These were hard work! Oh, and there was scree, lots of slippery scree! Fortunately, our expert guides did a wonderful job in helping us navigate a way through and getting us to the top. It turned out one of them had travelled the world as a flying trapeze instructor - no wonder he wasn’t phased by heights!
Usually the incentive of climbing so high would be rewarded by a spectacular view of the Lakes. Sadly, not so the day of our expedition. Visibility was so poor we couldn’t see a thing - maybe a blessing in disguise for those of us who were scared of heights!
After the briefest of lunch stops, with some very soggy sandwiches, it was off to Peak 4 - Ill Cragg. We were up against the clock! By 3.20pm, we’d also knocked off the fifth one, Great End. By this point, we’d been walking for over 8 hours and our legs, knees and feet were definitely beginning to feel it.
Unfortunately, due to the terrible weather, the guides decided only three groups could do all 8 peaks due to the treacherous conditions and poor visibility so the girl’s group’s had to stop at 5 summits. The descent was still going to take two and a half hours which proved it to be a wise decision.
A huge congrats to the boys who completed all 8 peaks (including Esk Pike, Broad Crag and Bowfell - which by all accounts were as slippery, foggy and treacherous as the previous 5!)
The stats say it all.
41,211 steps, 18.8 miles, 364 floors climbed = a very tough day!
Many, many steps later and endless slippery stones negotiated, we all finally staggered back to Sticklebarn, crossed the finish line and were presented with our medals. Despite the aching limbs and weary feet, we all had a huge sense of achievement and were immensely proud of what we’d accomplished in the time allocated and the atrocious weather. I don’t think any of us had quite appreciated what a monumental challenge it was going to be - mentally as well as physically.
The BHF means different things to each of us personally and it was a privilege to be able to contribute to what they do in this small way. We're absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to raise so much money for such a great cause - over £7,000! A massive thank you to all who sponsored us - your incredible generosity spurred us on no end.
Our charity page is still open so if anyone would still like to donate, you can do so here.