Only Snowdon remained of the three iconic and ever popular mountains that make up the famous ‘ 3 Peaks’.
This got me wondering what order is most common when it comes to tackling the Three Peaks? I travelled up (to Scotland) and then back down which makes sense as I’m a southerner. Interestingly, the guy I bought the legendary Skoda from said his friends did it the reverse of what I did (Snowdon-Scaffel-Ben Nevis). Which again, makes sense as me and them are on completely opposite ends and sides of the British Isles.
Doing Snowdon last wasn’t just geographically strategic but also physically strategic. Out of all 3 climbs from my own experience, Snowdon went down as the easiest and is generally accepted as such by most of the info online. Obviously excluding the Crib Goch route! (One I’ve got my eyes on for next year).
Once we got to the base of the mountain for the route I would take (The Rangers Path – the one we did in 2019) it was approaching 4pm. Yep, almost a whole work day’s worth of travel time behind me. However, the sun made an appearance which offered stunning scenes across the lake that runs alongside the car park as a nice consolation.
Just one leg left to go; the last hurrah.
I was excited but also respectful. I knew I’d have to go to hell yet again, for the third time in less than 30 hours. Because I push every climb in terms of pace, you know you have to go to the wall at some point -usually when it gets steep and you’re anywhere from a third to three quarters of the way up. It just comes with the territory but I love it.
Originally my dad was going to be joining me on this climb as he’d wanted to do Snowdon for years and was always chatting about it. When it came to it though, he decided against it. I think he’d seen the effects of Ben Nevis & Scaffel Pike on me prior and had a long, hard look in the mirror and accepted the reflection looking back at him wasn’t one capable of climbing Snowdon.
Sadly I had to agree.
So he played it safe and done what he’d been doing best all trip: man the car and sit tight while praying my climb goes as well as possible.
In a weird way I wasn’t just climbing for my nan and my pride but for my dad’s state of mind as well. I just had to be OK as I just couldn’t put my dad through the stress and trauma of hours passing by, without seeing me return.
The power of this isn’t to be underestimated. As much as motivation is usually selfish, sometimes the best motivation of all is completely selfless.
By now excitement, pride, hunger and an eagerness to achieve were overriding any thoughts of how high my step count was, how many calories I’d burnt, what would happen if I were to get lost or injured and any thoughts of failure. I welcomed any challenges. At this point they’d just make an already brilliant story even better.
The weather was really pleasant for a late summer’s Sunday afternoon. It was warm with little wind and a few scattered clouds. Everytime I glanced back to the lake that overshadowed the car park, the sun was reflecting off the water creating a picturesque backdrop.
What was nice about this climb was the flat start. I was more or less on neutral ground for the first quarter to a third of the journey. Then it got steep quick as the mountain loomed large. Even from a distance I could see the path I’d be on, it climbed into the clouds and they seemed to swallow it up.
It was so cool to be back on this route over 2 years after we’d climbed it for the first time. That was where it all started really. I’d always liked nature and national parks and loved North Wales as a kid, but I’d never thought about climbing Snowdon until a friend suggested we do it as a group in 2019.
Back then the weather was glorious on that Easter bank holiday weekend, and I couldn’t not think back to those times and take stock of what’s changed and how much has happened between now and then……..
Throughout the climb various landmarks from last time would come into view, looking just as beautiful as I remembered, despite the less luminous weather, and each time they did I’d be enthused by all the things I’ve achieved and done since then, and it made my soul smile from within.
Eventually I was in the clouds and visibility all but disappeared; I could only really see about 10-20 feet in front of me but the task was simple: go forwards and up! Then the iconic railway line appeared in front of me…….
From here on out it was all gravy, baby. I loved it. The hard work was done. The idea of standing upon the summit and taking it all in was making me stride a mile an hour or two faster. And that made me check the climb time: just shy of 1.5 hours. Last time we did Snowdon I didn’t have a time for it as I only tried from about half way through.
For the last two years I’d wondered what my time would/could be.
How fast could I do it fresh?
What even is a good time for Snowdon?
I’d ponder it anytime Snowdon or any of the Three Peaks came up in conversation. Okay, I wasn’t fresh now but I felt decent and certainly wasn’t flagging. So fuck it, this would still be a time well worth having.
1 hour and 36 minutes after take-off I stood aloft the official summit of Snowdon as the sun was trying to penetrate through the cloud cover. As you looked north west (towards the English Border) the clouds were clearing and the iconic lake down below became clearer and clearer.
The summit was full of joy and pride as everybody was taking pictures and enjoying their triumph. And as crazy as this is, I ran into 3 guys who I’d seen on ALL THREE mountains – including the Scaffel summit that morning. They were doing the three peaks as well but like me, were screwed over by the good old English traffic. Oh and I even saw one of them in the toilets at a service station on the M6.
I was in my own world right near the top and as I neared them, one guy pointed at me and said, “Mate, it’s you! We saw you on Scaffel this morning and at Ben Nevis yesterday!”
They were right. It was them. What are the odds?!
We chatted for a while about mountains, the magnitude of our achievements and what was potentially the next challenge for us (Everest was mentioned. The idea seemed mad but incredibly intriguing and exciting…….who knows?!). Then we wished each other well and I’m gutted I don’t remember all their names but one was Nathan and the other 2 boys had cool, exotic names, that much I do remember.
Lads, if you ever read this please get in touch any which way you can (email, Instagram etc), I’d love to connect with you!
Once I got my pics and took stock of the scenery it was time to really seal the deal and finish this gig. As much as I wanted this moment to last forever my thoughts returned to the original aim: to do the whole thing under 30 hours. I was still set to do so just in the nick of time. All I needed was a fluent and smooth descent and I’d have it.
As I walked away from the relatively quiet summit (apparently recently Snowdon has had more visitors than ever before, so much so the environment is being harmed and the mountain is being worn away, which is very sad), I felt all kinds of emotions, many of which I recorded as I wanted to show the raw beauty of the moment and display exactly how I felt right there, right then.
I felt proud I’d turned what was only a fantasy a month or two ago into a reality. I felt sad that only a week or two ago I’d chatted to my nan about this adventure and now she was no longer with us. But at the same time this event would be eternalised; I’d never forget it and her, ever.
I felt like the MAN physically. I started wondering how dangerous I could be if I could apply myself as well as this to other goals and walks of life. Don’t get me wrong, it was tough, really tough but not that tough. If you get me? My confidence was high and I was eternally grateful to my body for standing up to the task so well.
My hips, knees and lower back felt great and my feet weren’t even sore. So all this training I’ve done over the years had my back, despite the critics telling me I was obsessed or wasting my time and whatever other nonsense they’d spit at me. Well, it paid off now motherfucker! And I know this for a fact: I couldn’t have done this 10 years ago when I should have been in my ‘prime’.
I kept descending fluently but my eyes wandered all over the Welsh skyline and countryside. More and more came into view as I came back down to earth. It was stunning. The mountain goats who had kept me company over the last 28/29 hours seemed to be smiling with me as I passed yet another group of them grazing.
I couldn’t stop myself filming pan arounds and snapping awesome shots…….
Sure enough the lake and starting point came into view. I checked the time – I had about 30 mins to play with to be under 30 hours. Man I wanted it! I began running down just to be damn sure I didn’t miss it. My knees were tender and my quads had had enough but my mind was the governor; he had one simple agenda and that was to reach the start/finish gate before the turn of the 30th hour.
And I did.
I flashed my dad a thumbs up and a cheeky bicep flex as I came into his view. ‘Never in doubt’ was the message I tried to convey with my demeanour. In reality though, I was spent and just wanted to get home and sleep for 12 hours at least. I was tired, sweaty and craving some warm food. There’s only so many granola bars and snack foods you can willingly eat……..
As we said goodbye to Wales and hello to England with another service stop (our last one) in Stoke-On-Trent. I already knew what I wanted. I’d known since the last step of my trek……..a filthy greasy KFC bucket, completely guilt free and it was glorious. The litre and a half bottle of Pepsi Max went down like a treat too.
At this point I was hobbling like an old man when I got out of the car. The contrast was crazy when you think about it, 3-4 hours a time climbing, striding, stepping, sweating, hustling and bouncing off rocks as you come back down, to then sitting in a fixed position in a shoebox car for 5-6 hours!
For all the tribulations thus far, the worst was yet to come and I didn’t even know it although I should have. THE LAST LEG OF THE JOURNEY.
Tedious. Annoying. Boring. Long. Tiring. Endless. Dull. Dark. Drawn out. Torturous.
All of the above and more…….
It was around 2am on the Monday morning by the time I walked through the front door. I was tired and felt like I’d been under hypnosis for the last 4 hours. Thrashing the trusty old Skoda around the M25 faster than it wanted to be driven, with my dad constantly telling me to “keep the revs lower!”.
To which I’d say, “I bought this car. I don’t care right now, I just wanna get fucking home!”. I had to have the window open on the torture chamber that is the M1 at night. 30+ miles of pointless roadworks and average speedcheeks….REALLY?!
I slept decently well but didn’t officially get out of bed until 4pm or so. Because I wanted to and it felt great. I was hobbling and the stairs was agony; my calves were sorer than they’d ever been – a real deep soreness that felt like my bones were jarred.
It took me a few days to feel normal again and by the weekend my calves were almost normal. But the fun wasn’t over as we had to return to Scotland the very next weekend to recover the car. This turned out to be a 20 hour round trip with all the stopping.
But in a weird way I wouldn’t change anything at all as it’s made the story so much fun to tell. Even writing this last blog entry has been so nostalgic and recalling all the memories, I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to do anything else at all for my 30th birthday – how many people can put their hand on their heart and say that?
Yet again I’ve compiled a video to go along with this leg of the adventure, where you can see it raw and live it with me. Plus there’s some bonus philosophical talk in there, right in the moment for you to enjoy. If you’re so inclined and have made it this far, it would mean the world to me for you to have a watch.
Thank you for reading as always. Until the next adventure…….
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.