View Full Version : 3 Big Hills

Dave B
03-06-2008, 09:08 AM
A bit off topic I suppose but it involves the internal combustion engine so .....

Wednesday 28th May, wet and 'orrible and out comes the bike for a ride from West Yorkshire to Betws Y Coed, North Wales. Meet up with a dozen guys (and gals) from all over this fair Isle in a bunkhouse outside town to have a crack at the 3 national peaks. For those who don't know it, this involves climbing the 3 highest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland and the real test is to do it within 24 hours, including the drive in between. On bikes, this is downright dangerous so I hatched a plan last summer to do one a day, ride in between and stay at bunkhouses and have a nice meal and the odd beer :rolleyes:
This was the meal in Wales at a place called the Ty Gwyn...my meal was half a lamb shoulder but it looked like it was hewn from a buffalo...awesome food and well worth booking in if you're in that neck of the woods
Thursday morning dawns much brighter and the sun makes an appearance as we prepare to leave the car park at Pen y Pas. We are a mixed bunch of abilities so we all have to remain self sufficient on the bikes....(someone should have reminded one of the guys who stashed a bit of gear in the only car on the trip...the driver of which walked with the pace of a 3 toed sloth...much car park waiting ensued :D )
We summitted in glorious weather and after the obligatory photo shoot, set off back.
Summit cafe under construction
I have always found it easier to jog down and try to be 'fleet of foot', for others it seemed a real slog but we all made it down safely, next stop the Youth Hostel at Grasmere. A decent blast along some awesome B roads following what I presumed was a local guy in his RS4 at interesting speeds :thumb:
Arrival at the YHA place was at 4pm but they don't book in until 5 and being an old fashioned British institution, the girl at reception sat behind her balsa wood screen, listening to 3 groups of people, totalling about 25, moaning about how stupid it was. So at 1702, she opened and all too slowly booked us in. Pub meal out and a nice stroll back for an early night.
6am and we are up and waiting for the packed breakfast...7am sharp, nope, they had them all stored ready in a fridge but 7am was when the 'living on site' girl started so that was when we got it! Yanks would not believe their eyes or ears I tell thee.
Scafell next. Cool and cloudy, perfect. Some are starting to feel the pace a bit now and although not a race, you have to get timings right so that you don't hit Glasgow on a Friday teatime rush hour and that you can get to your destination bunkhouse before the pub closes.....
Cloud obscures the top 300 feet of Scafell
but its still nice to get to the top in one piece. We meet an american guy ill equipped and poorly dressed who is lost in the mist. No map and pointing to a valley to the South saying 'Is that the way I should be going?' WTF?? Well where do you need to be heading? 'Keswick'...No then, you need to be going North not South. We see him out of the clag and away towards Keswick...tosser.
4 of the original 14 drop out either on or after Scafell with old recurring problems or massive 3mm blisters :whistle: , 2 head off home but 12 of us make the trek North to Scotland to conquer Ben Nevis on Saturday.
We stay at the Corran Bunkhouse, a new building where for 12 a night you get a bed with duvet/sheets/pillow in an en suite room and decent kitchen self catering facilities....20 yards from a CAMRA pub...superb
And the setting and view from about 25 yards away....

Saturday is glorious by 0630...On Ben Nevis by 0830 after a great short ride up the A82. After about an hour of slog, we come across this..
Yup, a hardy team of six manhandling a wheelchair bound person up to the top. It was incredible to watch. There were 6 teams doing it for SCOPE and I was priviliged enough to be on the summit when the first team got there, smashing the previous 7 hour record by an hour and a half. And I had puffed and wheezed my way up moaning and groaning.... ;)
We stayed on the warm, snow covered summit for about an hour and in that time, the first two of us up were joined by another 2 of our group, then another 1 then the final 3 who had set off up a different route. So the whole team who had set off were there together. For some of the folk in our 'team' it really was an achievement. One is 60 in a month and not overly fit, another couple are in in a similar way and its 30 miles of walking and 10000 feet of climbing to do all 3...added to 1000 miles of riding.
I have done the Ben a number of times but never had the fantastic weather we had this time...
This snow cornice hide a 1000 foot plus drop but bizarrely, there are only 1 foot tall metal rods with a 1" square of red and white plastic as a warning...either do it right or not at all..the way they'd marked it was nodding at it being dangerous but sod all else and when you see people on top in slip on shoes with morrisons white plastic carrier 'rucksacks'...it doesn't bare thinking about..
The last descent was steady but the prospect of a cold beer in the well placed Inn right at the foot of the slopes spurred us on.
Alas I had to ride straight back down Saturday evening due to a christening the next day but a great trip...try it or something similar, for those who have never been North of the border and particularly North of Glasgow/Edinburgh, you really don't know what you are missing, the roads and scenery are awe inspiring.

03-06-2008, 09:17 AM
That kept you busy for a few days, Dave. B)

Excellent read and pictures. Great to see people achieving feats like this :thumb:

Dave B
03-06-2008, 09:19 AM
With my typing and IT skills, it's taken longer to post it than to do it!