At some point everyone needs to gamble. Throw caution to the wind; dance with lady luck. Bet it all on a hand of cards. Well, we weren’t quite betting everything, but we had staked a lot on avoiding the usual Highlands weather of wind, rain and fog. It doesn’t take an expert to know that wagering on Scottish weather isn’t wise, but so far we had rolled the dice and come out trumps. We were standing at the top of Ben Nevis, sunshine streaming down on us and resplendent scenery before as far as the eye could see. Bens, lochs, dales and even the Irish Sea lay before us, all glinting and smiling in the sunlight. Sadly we couldn’t dilly-dally at the peak for too long, despite the memorable vistas tempting us to soak in their beauty for a while longer. After all, we had a challenge to complete.
When good friend Matt announced we would be celebrating his 40th birthday by hiking the Three Peaks Challenge, my initial reaction was curiosity. It soon turned to trepidation. The concept is simple, but the reality is tough: reach the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales, all within a 24-hour period. This would involve 23 miles of walking and a not insignificant 3 064 metres of ascent (often at very cold temperatures). For our group of nine rather unfit men, this was not going to be a typical walk in the park. To give us a fighting chance on our quest for fame and glory, we enlisted the expertise of guides Dan and Becky from ‘Into the Outside’ (and their faithful Labrador Pan). For them the challenge would be even harder: as well as hiking, they would be organizing transport and logistics, keeping everyone well fed and warm, making sure we didn’t get lost and keeping everyone in high spirits.