One day left until we set off to Scotland and the self-doubt started to push its way through a little. This would be one of the hardest challenges I have ever faced. I needed to change my mindset and that is exactly what I started doing. Friday morning arrived and I wake up with a cold, and it’s that time of the month. So, the period pains would soon start aswel. Great I don’t feel 100 percent to start with but I was loaded with tablets in my bag so that would help. The six and half hour drive to Fort William in Scotland on Friday afternoon with Derek and Brad gave me time to relax, take on board some sound advice, and contemplate the task ahead.
For anyone who has never camped near the lakes around Fort William, the Scottish midges are an absolute nightmare. They attacked us in their thousands. So, I opted for a sleepless night in the car before getting up at 4 am to stand facing the monstrous Ben Nevis. I have never walked up any mountains before so I didn’t know what to expect really. I had just been told about it and the truth is, until you experience it, you won’t know the challenges you have to face to complete all three mountains. With every corner I turned on Ben Nevis, I thought ‘I have not got long now,’ but then I looked up and saw little people hundreds of metres above me on the trail ahead, and the realisation set in that this is much harder than I thought.
An hour of walking and my lower back pain set in, and it was there to stay. Two hours into the walk my legs started to ache. Half way up the mountain the temperature dropped, and let me tell you it was freezing, and layers of clothing began to be added. As we got more than half way up the mountain, I was so relieved I was with two experienced men who have climbed this mountain before. I was relieved to have four rest periods on the way up. I don’t normally like drinking water but as soon as the liquid hit my mouth, it tasted like the best drink I had ever tasted.
Looking around at the views as we made our way higher were nothing like I had ever seen. It was breath taking. I could have just sat down and looked out into the views for hours and get lost in the moment, I had to keep walking as we had to cover a lot of ground. I could just about see the summit and my energy and pace increased to reach the cairn on top of this monster. Elation at the top and photographs taken quickly, because the cold forced us to spend as little time up there as possible. The journey back started and the realisation that coming down Ben Nevis is just as exhausting as going up.
We made good time and back at the car with little rest, we set off on the five-hour journey to the Lake District to face the next challenge, Scafell Pike. The back seat of the car was my haven and allowed me to put my legs out horizontal to increase blood flow. We stopped off at the services a few times as Derek faced another challenge of driving as well as climb the three mountains. We eventually arrived at the start point of our climb and after fifteen minutes of preparation we started our journey up the second mountain.
My legs tired quickly and I wondered how I was going to do this. Again, Scafell has lots of blind peaks and with every turn I looked up to the tiny people on the trail ahead but I had to dig deep and not get overwhelmed. Derek stuck with me the whole way up encouraging me to keep going. The physical pain with my lower back and tired legs played havoc with my mind, but I faced much harder challenges in the past and I kept this in my mind as I pushed myself to keep going. Two hours and twenty minutes later we were at the summit of the mountain. I was very tired and my body ache and I dreaded the journey off the mountain.
It was getting dark and the pace down was slow. There were many climbers on the trail and I had to keep standing off to one side to allow faster walkers room to pass. I was in so much pain with every step, and again, coming down was much harder than going up. We arrived back at the car just after midnight and it was time to try and sleep, and again I opted to stay in the car without much luck of sleep for the second night.
4am on Sunday morning we packed up our gear and started the five and half hour journey to Snowdonia National Park in Wales. Several stops on the way allowed Derek to get rest until we reached the car park to start the climb up Snowden.
I was feeling optimistic about my final climb, even though I was extremely exhausted from walking the last two mountains with hardly any sleep. Everyone was tired when we got out of the car at Snowden. You could sense the atmosphere between the three of us. My enthusiasm to walk up the mountain with my back pack started a little disagreement with Derek. Looking back now he was right, as I would have started up the mountain with the back pack placed on my back, and half way up Derek would have had to carry it as exhaustion and pain would have prevented me from carrying extra weight. Derek knew this from experience because he carried my bag on Ben Nevis.
We all started to walk in the direction of the final mountain and all I thought about was ‘right 2 down and 1 to go.’ My legs from the day before were really sore I felt like I couldn’t walk properly. I wasn’t going to give up now because this was going to be worth it in the end, and not only was I raising money for The Survivors Trust, but I was doing it to show people that the pain will not last forever and we all go through storms and challenges in life that shakes us into doubting ourselves and our abilities. In the end with the power to believe you can get through it.
The walk to the base of Snowden was a gradual one, but my back pain set in quite early. We walked around the lakes and then turned to face the steep track up the mountain side. I was tired and in pain and knew this was going to be the hardest climb. Some of the track was a scramble up rock faces and I struggled with this. At some stages I became panicked with the severity of the drops around me and the steepness of some of the stages. I struggled with my breathing and the pain in my legs but Derek helped me to calm down and control my respiration rate. I was exhausted half way up and stopped several times to rest. During one of these rest breaks I ate the best apple and again drank the best water I ever tasted.
It was so hard to keep going and I cried with the pain and being overwhelmed with it all, but I kept going. I made it on to the mountain top and then started the gradual climb to the summit. I started the climb up the steps on to the cairn with aching legs and back, and after a hug from my team, I stood to have my photo taken. Celebrations were completed with a cup of hot chocolate and a doughnut in the Snowden Summit café.
We followed the train tracks of the mountain as this route was less painful on the body. We reached the car at around 5pm and commenced the long journey home. All I wanted was to see my two sons.
I am so grateful for all the support I have received in doing this challenge. Family, friends, and work colleagues that stood by me and believed I could do it, donated money, shared and liked social media posts. I now want to say a thank you to Brad for all the advice and support along the way, I would say it is a start of a good friendship for the future. Here’s to more adventures Brad. And now, a huge thank you to Derek who was my rock all the way up and down the three mountains. He has the patience of a saint to put up with me, let’s put it that way.
So, guys, what are we doing next?
I am currently collecting in donations that have been made so once I have completed this I will inform you all of how much I have raised altogether. If you would still like to make a donation you can do via the link provided below.
And as I always end my blog posts, here’s to never giving up