Take On The Three Tallest Mountains In The UK With This Popular Bucket List Challenge

Have you ever fancied scaling the three highest mountains in three separate countries in just 24 hours? That's the big appeal of the National Three Peaks Challenge, a popular Bucket List adventure in the United Kingdom that attracts around 30,000 intrepid walkers each year. The logistics sound daunting and it isn't an easy task, summiting Ben Nevis (4,413 feet), Scafell Pike (3,210 feet), and Snowdon (3,560 feet) in Scotland, England, and Wales respectively, and somehow grabbing a little shut-eye between stops.

Tackling one peak in a day is usually enough exercise for many people, and the Three Peaks Challenge requires a high level of physical fitness, sturdy walking boots, efficient packing, and a great deal of mental resilience. Some hikers who have completed the trek warn that lack of sleep is the toughest part, as you are only able to get forty winks on the drive between mountains.

It is possible to keep to cost of your adventure down by plotting an individual challenge and doing it under your own steam, but paying to join an organized event offers three main benefits. You will have the guidance and expertise of a mountain leader; minibus transport gives you a chance to nap while you're on the road, and tackling the mountains with others in the same boat provides support when you need it most. Let's take a look at how an organized National Three Peaks Challenge usually plays out.

The Three Peaks Challenge starts off with Ben Nevis

Sensibly, the National Three Peaks Challenge takes out the biggest obstacle first with an early morning assault on Ben Nevis. Britain's highest peak is located in the Scottish Highlands, and many organized trips set off from Fort William on the banks of Loch Linnhe. The jumping-off point can be reached from Glasgow or Inverness, both of which have international airports. With a long journey ahead, it's a good idea to find accommodation in the town, rest well, and make sure you load up on breakfast before arriving at the meeting point.

Unlike the other mountains on the challenge, the ascent of Ben Nevis starts around sea level, meaning a far greater vertical climb to the summit. The weather in the UK is changeable at the best of times and that goes double at higher altitudes, so it's a good idea to bring waterproofs and a hat. The vistas from the peak are stunning when conditions are fine, with even Northern Ireland visible in the distance on a clear day.

Once you've taken in the views and recovered your breath, it's back down the hill and into a minibus for a six-hour drive to Scafell Pike in England's gorgeous Lake District National Park. Although it is the smallest peak on the challenge, it still represents a hardy march to the top, and you are also faced with the psychological barrier of setting off up a mountain as the sun goes down.

Scafell Pike and Snowdon complete the trek

Summiting Scafell Pike is usually accomplished in darkness around 11 p.m., before it is back down again for the final leg of the journey; a four-hour drive across the border into Wales and to Mount Snowdon, in the wonderfully craggy Snowdonia National Park. If you are on schedule, the group will start the five-hour walk in the early hours of the morning. This is where hiking with experienced mountain leaders comes into its own, as the rocky slopes can be dangerous in the dark. The good news is that weather permitting, you should get to see a spectacular sunrise over the peaks for your efforts, and complete the challenge around breakfast time.

People of all ages and from all walks of life attempt the National Three Peaks Challenge for a variety of reasons, from raising money for charity to simply ticking off another item on their bucket list. Covering around 23 miles and ascending a total of over 10,000 ft in 24 hours is an accomplishment that anyone can be proud of, but it is not something to be taken lightly. Training for the trek is strongly recommended, as even regular hikers can find the itinerary very tough. Once you have completed the three peaks, you can finally get some well-earned sleep, safe in the knowledge that you've cracked one of Britain's most challenging adventures.