The Three Peaks Challenge – what do you think?

Posted by Carey Davies on 04/10/2013
The crowded summit of Snowdon: but how far is the Three Peaks Challenge to blame?
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As the clean-ups begin on the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales after another summer of huge numbers, we take a look at the controversy surrounding the Three Peaks Challenge and ask for your views.

An autumnal freshness is in the air, the sun is sinking in the sky, and the foliage is starting to turn. The summer has drawn to a close. And with it, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon are breathing huge sighs of relief.

If past estimates are anything to go by, the highest mountains of Scotland, England and Wales could have seen as many as 700,000 visitors between them (100,000, 225,000 and 360,000 respectively) – a number roughly equivalent to the population of Detroit. 

Those numbers take a toll on the places involved. Erosion, littering, Mountain Rescue callouts, human waste and general mess are bigger problems on Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon than anywhere else.

And with the last official weekend of summer, the season for the famous Three Peaks Challenge also drew to a close. Over the years since it was first invented, the Three Peaks Challenge has become a phenomenon, an experience attempted by thousands of people who would never even set foot on a mountain otherwise. This year will have been no different – over the last five months or so, thousands of people will have attempted the ever-popular aim of walking up each of the nation-capping peaks, driving the 450 mile distance between them, in under 24 hours.


Looking at it objectively, the Three Peaks Challenge might seem an unlikely candidate for mega-popularity; a rushed, sleep-deprived trial consisting of furtive naps on the M6, hastily gobbled Pot Noodles and many hours of trudging upwards and downwards in processions of people, much of it in the dark. But it seems neither the nature of the challenge nor the huge numbers attempting it have dimmed its appeal over the years, and the prospect of reaching the high points of three different countries in one day is clearly an idea that still captivates people.

But the Challenge has also become an established target of criticism, with a widespread perception among many outdoorgoers that it exacerbates existing problems on the mountains involved and creates ones all of its own. Critics allege the driving portion of the challenge (as much as 11 hours is spent on the road) encourages speeding and is environmentally unsound; local residents complain of minibuses disgorging loads full of people outside their houses in the middle of the night.


Horror reports of rubbish, excrement and discarded food are common. Last July Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team complained of "shocking amounts of litter, people creating new paths, the stink of urine and worse on the summit of Scafell Pike this morning.” In the same month a group of volunteers removed 10 bags filled with miscellaneous pieces of litter – including, puzzlingly, an octopus – and noted the number of discarded glowsticks left around cairns, apparently left to guide the way for Three Peakers attempting the challenge in the dark.

This year, in what they have dubbed the “Real Three Peaks Challenge”, a group of volunteers are setting out to “deep clean” Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon. Its leader, Richard Pyne, a Mountain Training Instructor, said: "I'd led groups on the top of Ben Nevis in winter before, but I was up there with a group this summer and I was appalled at the amount of litter I saw. I started filling a bag and ended up carrying down 3kg of rubbish that day." Volunteers from the Snowdonia Society are also hitching a free ride on the Snowdon Mountain Railway to do their own localised clean-up on Snowdon. The irony of the Three Peaks, as many have pointed out, is that a challenge often attempted with charitable aims ends up taking a strain on other charities, such as landowners the John Muir Trust and the National Trust, Mountain Rescue, and bodies involved with conservation and footpath repair like the Lake District’s Fix the Fells.


In fairness, most of the people who complete the Three Peaks Challenge have a great time, behave responsibly, and raise large amounts of money for charities of choice in the process. And no one wants to do down the feeling of achievement experienced by the Challengers themselves. It’s also important to get things in perspective.  Precise numbers are difficult to obtain, but estimates for how many take part in the Three Peaks Challenge annually are put at 30,000 at the most – compared to around 700,000 visitors to the three mountains combined.

Those numbers may be significant in the confines of Wasdale, as buses squeeze through the narrow roads and empty loads full of chattering people at 4am in the silent valley, with only a few temporary toilets to meet their needs after the long drive down the M6 (the Lake District National Park Authority installed these toilets in 2010 but has yet to replace them with permanent ones.) And there is an argument that Three Peaks Challengers, many of whom will be having their first (and possibly only) experience in the hills, lack the ‘mountain sense’ of other walkers.


But against the wider background of visitor pressure on the mountains involved, only a portion of the damage done can be attributed to Three Peaks Challengers. This is a point often made by leaders of organised Three Peaks Challenges when the prospect of restrictions or other special measures is mooted – why should one particular event be singled out when it makes up only a portion of the overall problem? A balmy August Bank Holiday this summer saw a minor media flurry as pictures of nose-to-tail processions of people making their way up Snowdon led to headlines of ‘Rush hour at Mount Snowdon’ [sic] and reports of queues for the summit. Among the day-trippers, tourists, stag parties, hen dos, casual walkers and people who’d just hitched a lift on the railway thronging the summit on that day, how many of them were Three Peakers? Probably only a tiny fraction.

The Three Peaks has perhaps become symbolic of wider concerns over visitor pressure, over and above its actual impact. For the BMC, as with the organisations above, dealing with this pressure – whether caused by Three Peakers or other folk – can represent something of a quandary; how to most effectively balance the spirit of access for all with the need to safeguard the fragile mountain environment. As Ed Douglas explained in a BMC article sparked by pictures of the Snowdon summit crowds, striking this balance can be a complex business. The freedom of the fells is a principle we all cherish, and calling for bans or restrictions on certain types of activity is incompatible with it.


Authorities, charities and organisations concerned with the knock-on effects of the Three Peaks, including the BMC, have instead adopted a policy of education and mitigation – reinforcing paths up the mountains to minimise erosion, placing toilets and facilities at their base, and working with charity fundraising bodies to ensure good standards are followed in the organisation of Three Peaks events, to name a few. The BMC is playing its part in a number of ways; producing skills guidance to help advise participants in safety basics, working with safety partnerships in Wales and helping to fund footpath repairs on Scafell Pike through our Access and Conservation Trust (ACT), to name a few.

The BMC’s Green Guide to the Uplands has this to say on challenge events in general: “Events such as ‘challenge’ or sponsored events are increasingly popular for fundraising. They often involve large numbers of people and can cause significant damage and disturbance to local residents and other users. The mountain environment is fundamentally unsuitable for this type of event”, before outlining criteria – consideration of the environment, the preparation of participants, planning and minimising disturbance – to be met before a challenge event goes ahead.


However, in light of the increasing popularity of challenge events, we are working on expanding the interaction and engagement we have with the organisers and participants of these type of events. Simply saying they are ‘unsuitable’ is unlikely to stop them going ahead; better to work with the grain than against it.  With this in mind we are drawing up new guidelines for organisations wanting to organise large-scale events in the mountains, some of which will relate specifically to the Three Peaks Challenge. Watch this space for the results of this work.

To help us, we’d like to get your thoughts on the Three Peaks Challenge. Did you complete it this year? If so, what did you think of the experience? Were you walking in the hills not as part of the Challenge but encountered groups of people doing it? Have you seen something – perhaps litter, crowds or erosion – that brought home its impact on the environment? Are you a local resident living with the impact on your community? What do you think of the current efforts to manage its impact? Are they enough?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Watch BMC Hill Walking Development Officer Carey Davies discuss some of the issues surrounding visitor pressure on Scafell Pike in this behind-the-scenes clip from Terry Abraham’s upcoming film ‘Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike.’


Donate to Terry’s self-produced film here.

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1) Anonymous User
Personally, I think this type of challenge should be actively discouraged. Participants in this sort of event have no interest in their surroundings or little consideration for other users of the mountains or for local residents. It is purely a arbitrary goal for them and probably it is as much about a race on the motorways as it is about climbing the mountains. So charities should be pointed towards other, less environmentally damaging, challenges like the Yorkshire 3 peaks. There should be a levy on these events as well to pay for the damage and disruption.
2) Anonymous User
As someone who takes people on walking trips in the hills I actively try and avoid the main peaks, as they are usually packed with people, negating the reason for going to the wilder places of Britain. The Three Peaks Challenge, as was said in the article, represents only a small proportion of the people on the peaks. A way to mitigate the overload on the Three Peaks would be to provide people with alternatives. This could be in the form of a leaflet at tourist agencies or a local advertising campaign.
3) Anonymous User
At one time people were encouraged and educated to follow the "Country Code". I wonder how many of these people causing the problems have ever heard of it? They certainly don't respect it!
4) Anonymous User
The charities see it as a cash cow, but they are often not bearing the costs. A 450 mile trip between Ben Nevis and Snowdon in a minibus burns an awful lot of fuel - and that's before you add in the cost of getting to Ben Nevis, and home from Snowdon. If the participants didn't do the 'challenge' and just gave the cash they would have spent straight to the charities then there'd be less traffic on the M6, less pressure in sensitive areas such as Wasdale, less pressure on MRT, plus the charities still get paid. Frankly, I'd rather pay someone NOT TO DO the 3 Peaks!
People need to come up with more intelligent ways of raising money for charities that don't involve significant costs. The charities need to start promoting this concept as well. The 'follow the zombie' approach of fund raising has to end. I was recently sent details of a charity bike ride in the Peaks. 35 quid to ride round a few public bridleways. None of the money went to the charity. How about you go and ride the route - there's plenty of routes published on-line and just give the 35 quid straight to charity? I don't get the concept of why fund raising has to be so expensive?
5) Anonymous User
I am unashamedly elitist --- apart from the driving doing the three in less than a day is pathetically easy for any competent fell runner or hill walker (similar comments apply to any targets set for the Yorkshire Three Peaks) and I consistently refuse to sponsor people in this 'challenge'. Sending them to other hill based challenges will only exacerbate things.
6) Anonymous User
I am more worried about the effect the 3 Peaks Challenge has on the local communities than the mountain, the mountain has been there for millions of years and can be repaired by either man or nature but if distress is caused to the local people by this activity for 10 or 20 years then their lives have been permanently blighted. We are guests in their communities and we have a duty to respect their needs, the first job is to educate the charities and any other organisation as to the problems caused and ask them to discourage fundraisers from using this method. Second do whatever is possible to reduce the impact on the local communities, education is the key just slowly but persistently persuade people that it is not a good idea and hopefully it will become less popular. In the long term this is just a phase that will pass as all things do.
7) Anonymous User
I suppose at 71, I look back to the old days in the hills with nostalgia. I now avoid all popular peaks like the plague. The "Three Peaks" is not a great challenge and not something that I would ever have been proud of doing. Indeed, in view of the environmentally destructive effects, I would keep quiet about it, had I ever been involved. I am not against challenges as such, having done many, e.g. I completed the Munro tops (and have done a high proportion more than once, so not just for the challenge) and did the 4000s without any support.. I have seen hundreds of people trudging in line on these "challenges" and I am at a loss to understand what they get out of it. I would like to see such organised "challenges" disappear, but as a strong supporter of right-to-roam in Scots law, I cannot see how to control it, other than by education.
8) Anonymous User
Do it by sail boat - much more enviromental!
9) Anonymous User
The mountain and wilderness environment is there for anyone to responsibly enjoy. Unfortunately these days it is too often abused by organised ‘challenges’ to the detriment of the environment as a whole. I cannot see why any genuine mountaineer/hillwalker would wish to participate in an event which mainly consists of driving on main roads. There are plenty of alternatives to raise money for charity or fulfil personal goals. I would suggest four hours on an inclined treadmill, five hours sat in a cramped position, four hours on a treadmill, three hours sat down in a cramped position and a further few hours on the treadmill –about as much fun and little environmental impact
10) Anonymous User
Three Peaks "Challenge" - just totally lacks the imagination to think of something else to do, specially when done for charity. Awul environmental impact and too often it's people who have no historic connection with the hills and who will never go back.
11) Anonymous User
I am absolutely against the 3 Peak Challenge and have always refused to donate to people who take part in it. Other charities and individuals have to clean up after the event, path erosion is made much worse by hundreds of folks tramping up and down the mountains on the same day and in all conditions and as stated in the article, the environmental impacts and safety issues re. the drives between the peaks makes the whole challenge questionable . I am not in favour of any "mass charity events" on mountains whereas I will support the odd person or a group of one or two people ascending a mountain for charity. Give me a road half marathon any time, I will support any of my friends entering into road races, etc.
12) Anonymous User
The problem lies with education. Would it be worth asking organisers of the challenge to include details in their fundraising pack how people can reduce their impact on the environment? This could be when they sign up to have a page included on the country code and that they agree, by taking part in the event, to abide by such things or an email providing information on 'the countryside'.

You are right to say that for some people the 3 peaks may be their first mountain experience so they may not realise (as stupid as it sounds) that they should take home their own litter amongst other things! At least this way, should these 3-peakers choose to undertake another mountain 'challenge', they have the opportunity to spread the word about the impact that their actions have on the environment (including their carbon footprint as they drive between these peaks) and understand how they should act in these areas.

Everyone starts somewhere, and I feel that everyone should be able to enjoy the mountain regions however experienced or inexperienced they are. I don't see the need to cancel such events and as the numbers suggest, there is clearly a much deeper problem.
13) Anonymous User
I was recently involved with a Three Peaks Challenge. The people being led were not mountaineers, and were only interested in fund raising and completing the challenge. They threw litter were ever they went, even more so in the cover of darkness.In fact they behaved just like they would in the high street or the car. They threw their litter. A sad reflection of the fast food society we live in. No easy solution exists but anybody leading the groups must have a large input into the education and control of the people they are taking into the areas we love and care for. A big thank you to those who pick up rubbish.
14) Anonymous User
I have been Hiking and climbing in Britain for many years and believe everyone has just as much right to climb any of our beautiful mountains as I have, but not to the detriment and safety of others.
When climbing I never leave anything on the mountain and if need be I'm able to spend a few days aloft if the weather closes in.
I have done the three peaks but never as a 24 hour challenge and although they are reasonably easy compared to many other mountains the lack of sleep makes these mountains dangerous and they catch out the unprepared three peak challengers all the time. So if your unprepared and cant take your rubbish home! Stay off the Mountains!
15) Anonymous User
One of the biggest things for those doing 3PC up the Pony trail is that they will never see the amazing sight of the CMD Arete snaking around to the summit, and missing out one of the best bits of Nevis!
16) Anonymous User
Even though I do not agree with the Three Peaks you are probably right in saying only a small percentage are doing the three peaks all together. Being a member of the LDWA as well I would have thought there are bigger challenges walking wise where groups could get together & raise money by combining two marathon walks over a weekend or doing one of the 50ml or 62.5 ml walks in their walking calender & doing fair less damage.
17) Anonymous User
If people want to take their "city attitude" and mess on to the mountains then those people need to be policed as in a city and a littering fine put to charity. £70 or £80 a pop should sort a good few charities out PDQ. It may even send a few people back to do a few laps of a track.
18) Anonymous User
I think it is safe to say that you have to work on the premise that whatever your views and/or efforts to control this situation - It is going to happen regardless. Most people are kind and thoughtful towards each other and the environment . . . and those that are not can be found in all walks of life AND, most importantly, they certainly would not be bound by your good intentions.
19) Anonymous User
The charities mounting these challenges should be obliged to pay [not 'donate' - that's voluntary] a percentage of funds raised -say 5% - to a central pool to be divided between Mountain Rescue, the cost of cleaning up, the cost of path maintenace and local community projects.
No one should try to stop 3 Peaks challenges but the organisers have to accept that there is a cost to be borne and they can't just turn up, ruin the places and scarper.
20) Anonymous User
"The summer has drawn to a close. And with it, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon are breathing huge sighs of relief...." and a very emotive statement too! My first ever footstep on a mountain was during the national three peaks challenge and the experience spurred an interest in climbing & hiking that I could easily have missed. We all like to enjoy peace and quiet in the hills but should we expect this, I think not! It is highly likely that those who leave a trail of detritus on the hills are the same people who ruin our towns and villages. These individuals will continue to be a nuisance to the environment and more considerate members of society. Putting regulatory barriers in the way of a healthy outdoor pursuit will serve no purpose. We are stuck with the attitudes of the indifferent and can only hope that education & environmental maintenance will allow everyone to continue to enjoy the wonders of the mountains.
21) Anonymous User
Four of us spent 4 days in the Fort William are in April of this year. Part of the plan was to do Ben Nevis from the back - across the Carn Mor Deearg arete, which I've been wanting to do for years. (First time on the Ben for quite a few years, and I did the Challenge many years ago). It was a very pleasant day, but having attained our goal, we came down the tourist path into Glen Nevis. On the way down we encountered hordes of people on the Challenge, (on their way up) some of whom had little idea how long it would take them to get up, and then down, the Ben. The over-riding realisation however was the state of the footpath, very badly eroded, to the point of it being painful to negotiate. It was a saturday, and most of the people we encountered on the way down were 'Challengers', so I'm not sure how you claim that the numbers on the Challenge are only a small proprtion of those on the hill in total. If it is a small proportion, I'm not sure anything can be done other than advertise good practise etc., but it certainly wasn't a small proportion the day we were there.
22) Anonymous User
Three Peaks Challenge is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Not just the environmental wear and tear and litter on the mountains by some who have no more respect for the mountains that to accomplish within the time but those who do this for the love of the outdoors....both in the name of charity. Good on those who volunteer to clear up after those in the name of charity, but who pays for the environmental damage caused by the endless minibuses and cars through local villages and parking up day and in the middle of the night on the roadside when vehicle parks are full?
23) Anonymous User
I think the LDNPA should install a gate on the Wasdale road, locked at night in the summer. Local residents would have keys, as would emergency services. Three peaks challenge organisers would have to pay a hefty per-use fee, with proceeds going to upkeep of the trailhead facilities and footpaths.
24) Anonymous User
Your own article explains quite well what does not sit well with me: " The irony of the Three Peaks is that a challenge often attempted with charitable aims ends up taking a strain on other charities..."
I just dont get it.

As to the overuse problem, I understand that in terms of numbers on summits 3-peakers make up a small proportion of a whole, so banning it would make little difference to these numbers, & hence to erosion. BUT some of the problems are specifically 3-peaks related, f.ex bus loads of people in Wasdale in the middle of the night, piles of glow sticks, etc, so limiting it would surely have some positive effect. I'm glad to see from the other comments that I'm not the only person out there who would refuse to sponsor someone doing it.
I think its pretty sad that those whose first encounter with hillwalking is one of these challenges could come away thinking Britains hills are all horribly eroded, covered with litter, & stinking of piss!
25) Anonymous User
When this started it was fun. Not anymore. These CHALLENGES create huge challenges for the local community and contribute very little to that community. Its the same in the Dales with the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks. Two years ago there were 5coaches parked at Ribblehead, a rat run of folk going up Whernside, water bottles just thrown away. Joining in the throng were 50 scouts and other individuals.
I guess around 200 people in and around Whernside. I was assured by a marshall that all the rubbish would be collected but I still managed a bag full the following week. I think the charity had something to do with hearts plus other good causes but the damage to the hills is unsustainable. The £££contribution to the local community minimal. Regards Allan Hartley MTA;IML; BMC Member
26) Anonymous User
I am an experienced walker who, amongst hundreds of days in the hills, has done all Three Peaks as part of the Challenge and separately with friends. Long term BMC and John Muir Trust member. I did the Challenge a few years ago not for charity, but as part of an event organised by the gym at my work, to encourage different kinds of exercise. About 25 people in two minibuses.

I agree that it's not a serious challenge for an experienced walker, but some of the others struggled and failed to finish the final hill. Some got a lot out of it; others had a miserable time. This leaves me torn; a relatively small group with minimal noise, no litter and a couple of experienced leaders to keep them on the right path can have had little impact. I can see, however, that bigger, inexperienced groups ignorant of the hills could cause real damage, including to themselves. But I'm loth to discourage anyone from giving it a go, and having the chance to find out what the hills have to offer.

I doubt it is possible to prevent these groups from doing it if they want to, but we can perhaps extract a levy from them for pathwork etc. A clearly articulated code of practice, both for organisers and to be passed on to participants, would help to limit the damage by those who are ignorant of the basics of the country code. Ultimately, no charity - particularly the larger ones - wants to be shamed publicly (articles in the national or regional press etc) for insensitivity and being destructive of the environment. The threat of that, with the corollary that NT/BMC/others praise publicly those who do behave responsibly, is perhaps the best way of changing conduct. But it will be an incremental process and patience will be needed.

I think that criticism of the environmental impact of all the driving is spurious. Public transport is abysmal in most of the UK's mountain areas. Only a tiny proportion who are determined to walk miles from the nearest train station or plan their routes around the one or two daily buses (where these even exist) can claim to be environmentally friendly. The great majority of us "responsible walkers" arrive in the mountains by car, leaving a substantial carbon footprint in our wake.
27) Anonymous User
I've always thought that this sort of charity fundraising to be particulalry inane. I would rather sponsor something constructive such as a roadside litter-pick or some voluntary conservation work than sponsor someone to to the 3 peaks challenge/ abseil down a building/trek in Nepal/tandom parajump etc etc
28) Anonymous User
I can only agree with the other comments posted, environmentally it doesn't make sense, as for the finances, most young people taking part seem to have plenty of disposable income and as for upsetting a few folk at 4:30 in the morning, we'll they will get over it won't they?
The charities now rely on the income, so will turn a blind eye to a bit of rubbish.
On the other hand, on any summer weekend, there are hundreds of people walking up Snowdon, they pay for their car parks and the local community benefit.
We have become a nation who take pride in sponsored charity events, look at the London marathon for example, so I cannot see the 3 peaks challenge changing.
29) Anonymous User
I would wholeheartedly agree with the BMC statement that the 3 peaks challenge is not an appropriate way of charity fundraising. Apart from the complex environmental impact there are also issues of safety. As a mountain leader I have often been asked to assist at these events;- and I have always turned the work down. My moral stance on how our wild land is used cannot live alongside the siege tactics experience of this 24 'race'. If people truly want to help our charities and preserve our planet we should all be more mindful of local needs. Sponsor an old person's garden tidy, take a homeless person for a meal, spend an afternoon working with autistic children... that is charity which traditionally, 'begins at home'.
30) Anonymous User
Perhaps the charities who actively promote this activity should be named and shamed for what they are - selfish!
31) Anonymous User
Find our comments here...
32) Anonymous User
I've climbed the 3 peaks in 24 hrs with 3 other mates in a private car. No fundraising involved. It's a lot of driving relative to the amount of walking. Wouldn't do it again. A much more amenable way of raising funds for charity is to run a marathon (done a few) which has a much smaller environmental impact but still presents a real challenge to the participant. So, off the hills and onto the roads would be my recommendation.
33) Anonymous User
Perhaps if alternative 'Three Peaks' [with each three in the same mountain range] or other challenges were promoted to Charities the load could be shared?
34) Anonymous User
As a keen hillwalker and lover of the natural environment I am appalled by all these types of challenges. I once did a London to Paris bike ride for charity and was equally appalled at the road sense and stupidity of a lot of those taking part, giving cyclists a bad name, so I will never do one again. The organisers are often not in tune with the challenge at all. It is only about ego and nothing to do with raising money for charity. Also, there is no link between the type of activity and the type of charity.Perhaps all the people who want to go up the mountain should do it to clean it up and raise money for the National Trust or Mountain Rescue since they are charities connected with the mountains. If they want to raise money for a cancer charity, do something connected with cancer care. That would leave only the genuine types and get rid of all this nonsense.
35) Anonymous User
The key issue is dispersal - charities could, I think, be persuaded to offer alternative challenges. A few years ago I did the Welsh 3000 footers to raise funds. The top five peaks in the Lakes would be another; a 'Five Bens' challenge in Scotland could have any number of options. Given the publicity around this problem, I hope a few leading charities could be persuaded to offer alternatives, at least on a trial basis. Once a few start, others will quickly follow. But I would oppose any form of ban; the peaks are there for everyone and should remain so.

Tim Woods, Car Free Walks
36) Carey Davies (author comment)
Thank you all for your thoughts and opinions - some interesting opinions above. Keep them coming.

A few have suggested encouraging alternatives to the Three Peaks. In light of this you might want to check out an article published alongside this one - 'Britain's nine most epic challenge walks'


37) Anonymous User
We all know the great sense of friendship and camaraderie that a challenge in the outdoors can bring. The 3 peaks is physically not too demanding, it catches the imagination of the people who are not normally walkers or runners. Also from my observations it seems to have spawned a small industry for supporting the event, so the popularity as a group outing is understandable. Unfortunately becoming overly popular is about the worst thing that can happen to beautiful remote places. I am definitely on the side that would request the BMC to try to have this event discouraged as much as is practical; but I suspect that will be a challenge in itself.
38) Anonymous User
As a qualified MLTE (Summer), and together with a similarly qualified assistant, I led a small group of 6th formers from Southern England on a Three Peaks Challenge this summer. The participants trained well and had been selected from their involvement in school sports, but none of them had any significant hill walking experience. We went in school minibuses, which are restricted to 62mph which added to the challenge. We had very tough driving restrictions which meant that several staff came along just to drive (and rest whilst we were in the hills). Safety was absolutely paramount on the road and on the fells. In the context of the environment, there would have been a school trip of similar mileage somewhere (probably abroad) so the mileage would still have been done, Three Peaks or otherwise. Strict rules were set by myself and the staff to avoid noise and pollution, including drop offs away from houses, campsites and farms. This all goes to show that events can be properly and responsibly organised.
Despite generally poor weather, the participants all thoroughly enjoyed the outing and they still talk about it in school on a daily basis. The group all took turns to map read and navigate under our watchful eyes and it provided an excellent bonding opportunity between each other and the staff as they entered their final year at school. Hopefully it will have kindled the thought that Britain has some wonderful places left to visit which they will explore as they go through life, keeping them fit and active. The year group below have already decided they want to do it next year and are busy training for selection.
Despite my association with a school in the South, I am a long term resident of Lakeland and regularly get into my local hills as well as wider walking in Scotland and Wales. I support the concept of the Three Peaks Challenge, not least because it focuses these groups on the three mountains concerned rather than potentially increasing traffic in other more serene and currently less visited areas which might happen if three peaking is discouraged. If I want to go up Scafell, I generally choose to go mid week in May when the winter and those intrepid volunteers (and thanks to them) have cleaned the mountain and the hoards have not arrived.
The arrangement in Glen Nevis, where the Visitor Centre operates an informal booking system for three peakers to use their facilities (and makes a charge) is a lesson for the LDNP to learn. This could provide a business case for building more suitable facilities at Wasdale Head (or lower down the valley may be better). And let’s not forget that my group spent quite a lot of money in Fort William, Gosforth and Llanberis to the advantage of local businesses.
39) Anonymous User
Can we not promote the idea to all serious mountain goers that they carry a bag and collect any rubbish they find.
My mate and I managed to fill a large bag between Gatesgarth and Birkness this summer. A distance of about half a mile.
40) Anonymous User
Can we not promote the idea to all serious mountain goers that they carry a bag and collect any rubbish they find.
My mate and I managed to fill a large bag between Gatesgarth and Birkness this summer. A distance of about half a mile.
Its about time the charities encouraged useful activities such as sponsored litter picks and activities that would benefit communities. It might also educate a few people.
41) Anonymous User
There is no reason why the challenges can't continue - there isn't really a problem in my view - yes there are speeding issues but West Lothian Police are often out in force waiting and will often stop cars / mini buses to remind them to slow down even if they aren't 3 peakers.. as for litter, I am not convinced the challenge guys are to blame you only have to go near Ben Nevis, Snowdon on a summers weekend to see the swarms of day walkers often badly equipped leaving al sorts of stuff on the trails - a preferred solution is to work with event organisers and encourage partnerships to repair routes and to arrange clean up walks too - all walking groups should be encouraged to adopt a policy of "what goes up comes down policy i.e. bringing back all litter and even adopting a collection policy too. As for directing them to the Y3P I disagree, the Y3P has 200,000 visitors a year already and besides, doing the Nationals is a great challenge and should be available for anyone... that's the whole point of choice and the mountains... the real issue is erosion, support, repair and respect...without breaking the law and doing them safely. The post has prompted me (as an outdoors walking group leader) to ensure that the groups I take out are now agreeing to our (new) policy of litter and collection (picking up other peoples litter) we will offer rewards to those who bring back others litter - and we will also support the Friends of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks (as we have in the past) and will also do an end of season clean sweep overt the routes we have used mostly.
42) Anonymous User
I am surprised that the organisers set the time scale to 24 hours and encourage potentially dangerous driving. I believe they should take a serious look at this aspect and perhaps state that the summits and descents should be achieved in a set time instead. This could add another challenging element to the event.
And in addition - why not rotate the Peaks to include new ones to minimise damage and make it more interesting for the participants who do it year on year? After all it is 3 Peaks - not 3 Specific
43) Anonymous User
This is only a challenge if you complete the WHOLE 450 odd miles route under your own steam!

Mixing outdoor activity challenges with motorised vehicles is courting disaster. Hopefully, all the drivers keep to speed limits on the roads and have enough sleep before going onto the road network!

Charities should act responsibly and ban the use of this Challenge as a fund raiser. Instead they should support walks in less sensitive areas and ones that limit the entry numbers.
44) Anonymous User
three peaks completed in 1976, but far to many of these biker clubs to enjoy any more.
45) Anonymous User

a friend and I went up penygent in about1976, JL and DS , we went to collect rubbish and came back with2bin bags i dead to think what is like now ?.

46) Anonymous User
I am not convinced that a levy on such events is the right thing to do. "We've paid for the damage, we'll do what we like" might well be the attitude if such a levy were introduced.
Also, the idea of using this money to repair footpaths would be a drop in the ocean - the "path" up Scafell Pike is a vague concept as far as 3 Peakers are concerned, the corners are regularly cut in order to save time/overtake people. (I realise this can happen at any time but, as has been stated by others, it is many feet in a short space of time that causes the severe damage).
I have seen prices in the range of £300-400 for organised trips to do the 3 peaks. Add that to the transport costs at either end and you could easily buy a bicycle and some kit, and get sponsored to do a 100 mile sportive. People will be just as impressed and happily hand over the cash. But that would require initiative....
47) Anonymous User
I'm just about to complete the 3 peaks with one othe for charity.. Having been brought up in a Cumbrian village, I know only too well about the Country Code.. I spent last weekend in Pen Y Fan and was shocked at the amount of people that were ill prepared and that how many were leaving litter.. Surely education is needed rather than a blanket ban on such activities.
48) Anonymous User
What a lot of elitist nonsense (see the comments below). Having just completed the 3 Peaks can I say that everyone I came across, and there were many I acknowledge, was considerate and certainly not the yobbish polluters described in the comments below. Training for, and participating in, this event has given me and many of my fellow Peakers a new found interest in hill walking, an appreciation of the landscapes and in all likelihood many return visits to enjoy The Highlands, The Lakes and Snowdonia in a more leisurely fashion. We took part to challenge ourselves and raise money for a number of deserving causes (with a total of £12,000 contributed to date).
49) Anonymous User
There appears to be an awful lot of elitist comments from 'seasoned' walkers and negativity against those completing the 3 peaks. I have personally organised 2 challenge events for friends and colleagues, the latest being June 2014. And no matter what people think, for generally sedentary office workers who keep fit by walking, cycling or going to the gym, it is a challenge. Both times we made sure we used local hotels and resources rather than just rushing in and out, were respectful of the environment and the communities, made damn sure we took everything away with us and also timed it carefully so not only did we do each peak in the light, taking advantage of the wonderful views, but also it meant that at no point were we setting off outside anyone's house while they were asleep. It also meant we avoided the bulk of the people doing it. Also being a group of people with different abilities we each did our 'own' challenge thus minimising the 'rush' that seems present on other organised events. We will be doing it again next year as a group to raise more money for charity (we pay for it ourselves) and again we'll make sure we minimise the affects our presence has on the mountains and local communities (other than by spending money there!) - quite possibly something the other 600 odd thousand people that climb those same mountains across the rest of the year don't do! Maybe some of the naysayers here should actually take part in a personally organised event rather than one of the corporate ones to see how it actually pans out.
50) Anonymous User
We did the so called three peaks challenge as part of our family holiday this year. I was very aware of the environmental/community impact that this would have and therefore we spread the challenge over an eleven day period. This enabled us to spend some time exploring over activities , we tried ice climbing in Kinochleven , rock climbing session on Tryfan Bach and the via ferrata in Honister. We also spent some quality family time on various other peaks and stayed in some wonderful youth hostels during the trip.
My children aged 11 and 14 were the instigators of this trip after various trips to my beloved Snowdonia National Park and even though I was aware of the negative opinions towards the 3 peaks challenge I wanted to add fuel to their adventurous nature and not dampen it.
To sum up we had some quality family time this summer walking in some amazing places , staying with wonderful people and trying some local produce (Thanks Scotland for the neeps and tatties!). The outcome is my children have a love of the outdoors that I dreamt of and our next adventure is being planned , see you in February you most awesome country that is Scotland
51) Anonymous User
I agree with most of the comments so far. I just wish people would have a bit more imagination when selecting a charity challenge. There are plenty of other persuits which are less environmentally destructive. Or how about coming up with something original ? I think the charities themselves could do a lot more in terms of guidance and coming up with alternative 'challenges'.
52) Anonymous User
I'm afraid I'm going against the grain of many of the comments below. I have just completed the 3 Peaks. I did it when I was 16 with my school and it was what fed my appetite to walk the mountains of our beautiful country. I'm now 47. I,didn't do it in 24 hours but over 7 glorious days. I spent 3 days in Scotland walking in Glencoe. the Trossachs and Onich. Then in the Lakes I explored the Langdale horseshoe and had 2 days by Wastwater. In Wales I explored other walks in Snowdonia. I included the 3 peaks in all of this. On Ben Nevis I noticed a bunch of fell runners off track and the friend I walked with complained about this (who was a ML on the mountain) There were also complaints about the discarded plastic bottles and rings from runners that are handed out in races. So it's not just the walkers are to blame! There are other ways to do the 3 peaks rather than 24 hours and we should be encouraging this rather than the rat race approach. Who wants to drive all that way into such amazing scenery, only to miss it because you're either asleep or its dark?! Come on you guys, think outside the box and look for opportunities to use the 3 peaks to get people to appreciate the mountains. The one thing that puts me off, as an experienced walker, is the elitist walkers who look down their nose at people just 'having a go'. We should be educating and supporting them in better ways to experience the mountains. At the end of the day, you might also be the same people complaining about those that sit on their backsides doing nothing and lead unhealthy lives. The big issue here is education at an early age and there lies another storyline!
53) Anonymous
This comment broke the house rules and has been removed
54) Anonymous User
Having just been part of a UK 3 Peaks Challenge team, as non-climbing driver/planner, the criticisms levelled at Three Peakers seem ill founded - our team had no problem bringing their "debris" down to the car and disposed of properly. The biggest environmental issue we found was the obnoxious stench from the toilets in the NT carpark at Wast Water - totally unacceptable since festivals coping with 100,000s of visitors can manage.

Litter disposal isn't a quality often found in modern generations, affecting cities and the countryside equally - old-fashioned attitudes/principles would solve the problem but I've no idea how you change public attitudes.

And for the critics, we achieved 23:32 without exceeding any speed limits.


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