The Highs and Lows of our Three Peaks Challenge

At Shanco, we’re used to being tested. Our work is often difficult and requires considerable effort to overcome the technical and logistical challenges; especially when these are often unique to every scheme. However, nothing that we’ve ever faced before has been as difficult as conquering the Three Peaks.

We started at 06.30am in the car park at Horton-in-Ribblesdale where we met our guides, Jess, Mark and Trevor from Challenge Central. We were in high spirits; we’d caught a break in the weather after several days of rain in the area and everyone was fresh, excited and kitted out in boots, fancy socks, ergonomic walking poles and weighed down with protein bars and energy gels. We had heard the stories and tales from friends and associates. People had run this route in four hours, how hard could it be? The scramble up to the top of the first peak, Pen-y-Ghent, was the first warning that this wasn’t a quiet stroll.

After reaching the summit within the first two hours, we were buoyed by our progress. The next stage was the long walk across the tops to the Ribblehead Viaduct and the start of the second peak, Whernside. Before starting the ascent, we had the chance to refuel at a very welcome rest point set up by our guide Trevor from Challenge Central. The tea, cake and protein snacks went down a treat and we set off again.

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Whernside proved to be a long slog. The path followed the line of the railway before crossing over and heading up the peak. Eventually the broad meandering track became a series of stone steps clinging to the hillside. The climb became more challenging until eventually we reached the highest point. We were up in the clouds, the wind buffeting the mist into our faces. For a minute, the grey blanket parted and we were treated to an unparalleled view over the Dales. The Ribblehead Viaduct nestled in the valley beneath us, this vast expanse of barren, bleak and unremittingly beautiful moorland, rippled with hills and undulations, stretched out away from us like a grassy carpet patterned with dry stone walls, rocky outcrops and isolated barns. The descent was steep and hard. The uneven stones formed rudimentary steps, worn smooth by the thousands of feet and hands of the similarly idiotic people that had passed before us.

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Eventually the path levelled out and we made our way to the second rest point. The van, with the urn and Mr Kipling’s, was like an oasis in the desert. Some swore that it was glowing with an ethereal light as we approached. We stocked up on provisions and assessed our respective levels of decrepitude; the verdict wasn’t fantastic, Whernside had taken a heavy toll.

The more fit members donated walking sticks to the more ill-prepared and infirm, bandages were applied and ibuprofen guzzled in preparation for Ingleborough, the last peak. We set off across the fields to the bottom of the climb. We had an engineer with us on the walk and he confirmed that it was essentially vertical. The general consensus on the gradient was some variant of ‘steep’, preceded by an expletive. We were reduced to hands and knees at some parts, hauling our bodies up the hillside through sheer stubbornness alone. The peak at Ingleborough was celebrated and then we began the final descent back to Horton-in Ribblesdale.

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As you come down Ingleborough and trek across the fields, you reach a sign that indicates that it is two miles back to the town. This is a bare faced lie; everyone agreed it was the longest two miles they had ever encountered. Apparently, everyone says this.

The fastest group even ran the last couple of miles to make sure they beat 12 hours. Their insanity was rewarded with a time of 11:43. The rest of the group trudged in after.

The Three Peaks was harder than anything we had ever done. At Shanco, we have always prided ourselves on giving the best service to customers and going the extra mile. Well on Saturday, we went nearly 27 extra miles.

However, we were all so proud. So proud we’d achieved it, done all three peaks and done it as a team. We managed to raise nearly £5k for three charities close to our hearts (Mind, Against Breast Cancer and Wakefield District Sight Aid) and though it was a hard, painful slog, it was an absolutely fantastic day!

We cannot thank Challenge Central and their guides, Mark, Jess and Trevor, enough for getting us all through the day. We couldn’t have done it without their help. We also want to sincerely thank everyone who sponsored us; the money raised is helping fantastic causes and we really appreciate your generosity.

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Sarah Reay