Three Peaks for Neil - Finished!
The team that set out to complete the Three Peaks Challenge for Neil have finished it!
When Neil’s family first started talking about ideas of fundraising for The Neil Vines Trust, the Three Peaks was the first. This was purely down to the fact that Neil himself had completed this challenge on a stepper whilst undergoing chemotherapy. Along with completing the challenge he was raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust which is a charity that helped Neil throughout his fight against cancer. This also led to the design of the t-shirts worn by all, because if Neil could do it on chemo, then so could we!
It was the aim to get as many of Neil’s family and friends to complete this challenge. With several months for people to get ready, a list of 18 were soon signed up! With so many taking up the opportunity to raise money for Neil, the plan had to change to accommodate the extras by getting a second vehicle.
So the weekend began nice and early on 29th August with the team meeting at 6 am in Gloucester. With a full day of travelling ahead of them, the group were eager to hit the road. Stocked up with chocolates for the journey and plenty to talk about as all of Neil’s different groups of friends came together to become one.
With so much kit, the minibus was far from spacious but everyone kept their heads down and only a couple of stops were made at the services before arriving in Fort William to get ready for Ben Nevis! By the time everyone had finished getting ready in the car park of a supermarket, the group were drenched! The weather was appalling with heavy rain and wind. This was a starter for ten as they found out later!
Starting the climb of Ben Nevis at 5.15 pm that same Saturday, the team were in high spirits. For some this was their first ever mountain. What a mountain as a first climb! With the weather calm and giving a false sense of hope, the group started off well. Around about halfway up, the weather took a definite turn for the worse and only seemed to get worse. The forecast seemed to be correct on this occasion. By the time the group made it to the top at 9pm, the wind was around 50mph with the resultant rain and hail coming in horizontally. With the wind chill factor, it was just below zero degrees! The visibility was extremely poor as well, around 10 metres which made navigating the route very difficult. There are some very steep sides to the mountain in places and it was certainly the aim to avoid these! It had also dropped dark by the time they reached the peak which was not helping visibility issues.
The group did exceptionally well in these treacherous conditions. Motivated by Ben Marshall, or Mr Motivator as he became known, they were led off the mountain safely. The weather certainly slowed them down as well as a few injuries which meant that the total time for Ben Nevis was 7 and a half hours. They did not get back to the transport until 12:15 am! Completely wet through, it was a quick change and then to start the drive down to Scafell Pike.
The group were fortunate enough to have a dedicated driver which came in the form of Matt Parkinson. He was the driver for the minibus which meant that for the driving straight after each mountain, he could do the first bit. There were a couple of other drivers for the minibus who rotated through. It was all very well organised and those not driving would take it in turns to sit up the front and keep the drivers awake. The car however was not so lucky. With space at a premium, there wasn’t the room for an extra driver which meant that 4 drivers rotated through.
The weekend was certainly a test of physical strength but also mental. Having had an arduous climb in Scotland the prospect of climbing 2 more is certainly daunting. Arriving in the Lake District to climb Scafell Pike at about 7.45 am on Sunday 30th August the group were pleasantly surprised with the weather. There was some sun; a sharp contrast to that of the night before!
There was a growing urgency to complete this challenge because the plan had been to meet Mum, Judith and sister Rachel at the top of Snowdon. They were going to get the train up Snowdon to coincide with when the team arrived at the peak. Because of the delays on Ben Nevis, it was now a very tight timeline. Adam briefed the group at the bottom of Scafell Pike and said that they needed to do this in 4 hours to try and catch up some time. Although it wasn’t likely going to be enough to catch up completely, it was going to get them heading in the right direction in completing the challenge as close to the aimed 24 hours as possible. The 24 hour mark wasn’t going to be achievable after the time taken on Ben Nevis but that didn’t deter them.
With the added time pressures, the group set off up Scafell Pike at a hurried pace. With minimal stops this time, they made excellent progress. It was certainly helped by the fact that they could see where they were going! They made it to the top in exactly 2 hours which was perfect! The weather had been too poor and cold to stop at the top of Ben Nevis to pose with the banner (and dark!) however they made up for it on Scafell Pike. The descent down was a difficult one with a few injuries and tired legs but they made it down at 12:15pm in exactly 4 hours! With the practise of getting changed and packed up becoming slicker, the group left just 15 minutes later for that last long drive to Snowdon.
With about another 5 hours of driving the group were not going to be able to make it up the top to meet Neil’s Mum and sister. The train they were getting would put them at the peak at 6.30pm which was latest for that day and would allow them to stay there for half an hour. However as the group arrived at Snowdon in North Wales at just gone 5:15pm, Adam briefed them once more that a quick get ready was needed! He was going to run up Snowdon to meet Mum and Rachel. Setting off at 5:35pm Adam had 55 minutes to make it to the summit. This was great training for his 10 Peaks Challenge which was the following weekend! He arrived at the top at the exact same time as the train which was spot on timing. Disappointed they couldn’t see everyone at the peak Mum and Rachel had a quick 30 minutes to have a few photos before Adam had the run back down to meet the group.
The group meanwhile had left just 10 minutes after Adam and were making steady progress. Legs were definitely becoming tired here. A few fresh faces had arrived at Snowdon to climb the peak which provided much needed encouragement. It looked set to be a late finish on this one after it took 2 hours 45 to reach the peak. Injuries were a major factor in going down. Everyone was having to take it a little slower at this point. Many had been awake for a long time now and it certainly was not worth rushing it. The minibus was certainly a great sight as the group walked the last stretch off the mountain about 12:45am Monday 31st August!
A total time for the Three Peaks for Neil was 31 hours 17 minutes and 3 seconds. Over 24 hours but the group had some very difficult weather to contend with!
One short trip left in the vehicles before much needed and talked about savoury food. The bunkhouse accommodated all 18 members, with the extra family members choosing either a tent or a B&B.
The group had pizzas and prosecco to look forward to. There was also a small surprise of a medal for having taken part in the challenge and for supporting The Neil Vines Trust. The group along with the extra family members posed for photos holding their medals before they finally got to bed around 2.30 am!
No lie in unfortunately! The next timeline was getting everyone back home to enjoy what was left of their bank holiday weekend. Arriving back at 1 pm in Gloucester, the group could certainly be very happy with their achievements.
An excellent weekend in which over £4000 was raised for Neil’s charity! A huge thank you to all the members for taking part and of course to all of the very generous donations that the family are truly touched and humbled by. Above all, Neil would be exceptionally proud to have seen so many of his family and friends strive and then complete this challenge all for him.
At Neil’s celebration, a poem was read which had the line ‘look for me in rainbows’. Several rainbows were seen throughout the weekend, a sure sign that Neil was with the group completing this challenge.
The weekend would not have been possible without the help of many companies. A special thank you to them:
Adsie t-shirts printed all of the t-shirts at a discount.
Cotswold Outdoors Cirencester provided a discount to the team members to allow them to be fully prepared for the mountains.
Banner Studio kindly donated the banner that was carried to the top of each mountain.
Five Acres Vehicle Hire provided a minibus and a car for the duration of the weekend.
Accommodation was in the bunk house which was provided at a discounted rate.
If you would like to kindly support a particular member of the team, please follow Meet the Team where you can see all members, or alternatively you can donate to The Neil Vines Trust by following the Just Giving button.
Come back soon to see a video of the weekend!