This page is dedicated to any walks that I’ve done, or attempted, that are commonly undertaken as challenge walks, whether I’ve actually done them for charity or for fun. I’ve given these their own page, simply to make it easier to find the posts, which in many cases are multiple.
I have a bit of a confused attitude to these challenges, and it’s probably fair to say that the chances of me doing many are slim. But some words of explanation are probably needed…
First, I have to state right here and now that my getting into walking was almost entirely due to a charity challenge, and if the opportunity hadn’t come up then there’s a good chance that this blog wouldn’t exist. So for me there has been one huge benefit to undertaking one of the UK’s most notorious charity challenges, and I don’t regret doing it at all. It is entirely due to the 3 Peaks that I have returned to the Lake District on 13 separate occasions since, and I hope that when you read the story of the challenge, it will be clear why.
Of course, there is the obvious argument that the environmental and logistical problems caused by large groups doing these challenges outweigh the perceived charity benefits. I have some sympathy with this, particularly as many of the agencies who have to deal with the after effects are themselves funded as charities (mountain rescue and path preservation being two examples). So in a very simplistic sense, the big charity challenges arguably cause no net benefit.
I found also, when I did the 3 Peaks, that there is so much emphasis on hitting the targets, that there is no time to enjoy the scenery or even the walk, and the whole reason for doing it in the mountains is therefore, lost. If it was just supposed to be a physical challenge, then it would be possible to create something that was just as physically demanding without having to place such a burden on sensitive areas of the landscape. I realised this on the long, painful descent from Scafell Pike that day back in July 2005 when I had time, due to our slow pace helping an injured team member down, to take in something of the landscape that we were passing by and ignoring through the blinkered focus on that one summit. Physically, I wanted off the mountain right there and then, but inside I knew I had to come back, and more importantly…why. My motivation to complete the challenge itself waned from that point, and I pulled out. But the fact that I walked partway up Snowdon for “fun” nevertheless and enjoyed it immensely probably also helps illustrate my change of view.
Because of my experience, I find myself now looking at charity walking challenges in a very selfish way. I’ll do one if I consider it an efficient way of having an experience I might not otherwise get. I was quite tempted by the “Egyptian 3 Peaks” earlier this year, which would have enabled me to climb my first mountain on a different continent. But this aside, I would far rather do a walk that I want to do and then decide to raise a bit of money for charity on the side, than go on a big organised charity walk.
Right, that’s the charity bit disposed of, what about the challenge ? Well, of course I have no problem with someone wanting to challenge their self, but I’m a relatively slow walker and for me such challenges are going to be a bit heavy on the physical challenge side and a bit light on the enjoyment side. So I look to do challenges in a way that maximises the quality of the experience rather than the speed. For that reason, when I did the Welsh 3000ers, I did each of the 3 ranges on a separate day, rather than trying the strict 24 hour challenge. And recently I’ve looked at things like the Paddy Buckley Round, not as challenges per se, but as the basis of a high quality multi-day long distance mountain walking experience. And that’s the way I like it.
So the challenges described here are a mix of walks actually undertaken as challenges, and walks that are simply based on the challenge routes. They are:
1. UK Three Peaks (2005) – the challenge which, for all its notoriety, is nevertheless responsible for my love of the mountains. No apology.
2. Welsh 3000ers (2007) – more of a holiday than a challenge, really. But a knackering one.