Alpkit helps conquer the Three Peaks

Charity and Sponsorship, Team and Industry News, Walking

Posted by Courtney Kelly on 3rd August 2023

The group celebrating at the top of Ben Nevis

Here at, we never shy away from a challenge. So, it came as no surprise when nine of our fearless Tech Team decided to brave one of the toughest physical and mental trials that the UK hiking scene can conjure up.

The National Three Peaks Challenge is a popular experiment amongst avid walkers but to this intrepid band of summit-hungry adventurers, it meant so much more. Alzheimer's Research UK is a charity close to the group’s heart and so, with a steely determination, they threw down a self-imposed gauntlet in an attempt to conquer the zeniths of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours.

Our partnership with Alpkit was invaluable to the group. The award-winning British outdoor clothing and equipment specialist gifted each member of the pack useful gear that would stand them in good stead against the demanding peaks and natural elements they would face.

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Scramble to:

Adventurers assemble

Left to right - Andrew Medland, Ben Pettman and Tim Brading

Meet the brave members of our Tech Team who completed the challenge.

Andrew ‘Med’ Medland 

As a Lance Corporal in the 6 Rifles Battalion and currently training to be badged as a mountain rescue operational team member for Exmoor Search and Rescue Team, it felt natural for Med to take on the mantle of de facto team leader. His knowledge and experience would be paramount prior to and during the challenge.

Ben Pettman

In 2020, Ben sadly lost his dad to Alzheimer's and so, when the idea for this challenge arose, it was a great opportunity to support the wonderful charity, Alzheimer's Research UK.

Tim Brading

As Head of Technology Operations, organisational skills course through Tim’s veins. Therefore, it made sense for Tim to do a lot of the administrative heavy lifting. He also drove the minibus over 1,150 miles, so it wouldn’t have been possible without him.

Left to right - Anil Sojitra, Andy Masters and Scott Sharland

Anil Sojitra

Having just completed the North Devon Marathon, Anil didn’t shy away from the opportunity to tick another epic achievement off his bucket list. Constantly smiling and keeping the mood positive, Anil also drove 300 miles in the minibus.

Andy Masters

Another team member who recently overcame the gruelling North Devon Marathon, Andy was France-bound only days after completing the Three Peaks. Despite heading to his fourth country in three days, we’re pretty sure he opted to avoid the French Alps whilst away on holiday!

Scott Sharland

Having never visited Scotland, the Lake District or North Wales, Scott figured there’d be no better way to see them than from their highest points. He also figured that walking up a few hills couldn’t be that hard. One out of two isn’t bad!

Left to right - Luke Garrad, Ed Pope and James Merriman

Luke Garrad

A feat such as the Three Peaks Challenge had been on Luke’s bucket list for a while and climbing three of the UK’s highest mountains was an endurance test that he just couldn’t pass up.

Ed Pope

Another member who hadn’t seen these parts of the UK before, Ed decided that this would be a good way to do just that whilst simultaneously challenging himself. The charity element gave it even more purpose.

James Merriman

By the time it came to do the challenge, James had parted ways with the company. However, being a keen runner and a man on a quest to visit every country in the world, he wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass him by.

Anil and Ben sharing a moment, and Scott filling up Ed's hydration pack while Luke looks on

Setting the scene

Despite the aim being to complete the challenge within 24 hours, this was not an assignment that was completed in one day. It took weeks of preparation and training by all the parties involved. Ever since the idea was seeded in Med’s mind to complete something monumental - something that was feasible within a day - there had been a sense of kinship amongst his interested peers. This was amplified when Ben suggested doing it for his dad, who sadly passed away only a few years ago after suffering from Alzheimer’s. Now, everyone was emotionally invested. This was really happening.

Some of the group training on Exmoor

Med started doing the medical plans and risk assessments (some of which included danger of death!), and all the while, the team were training in earnest. Exmoor National Park was the base of operations with hikers breaking off into smaller groups to tackle the local climbs when life got in the way of the whole team meeting up.

As the event drew nearer, the walks in Devon lengthened and the elevation increased, and the nonet of walkers started to become a unit as they practised walk-drive-walks to simulate the real thing. Although the scale of the task ahead hadn’t yet rooted itself inside the enthusiastic explorers’ minds, this was still a daunting undertaking involving a troop with differing skill sets, fitness levels and mountain climbing experience.

A minibus journey full of pit stops and photo opportunities

Displaying the most familiarity with the upcoming venture, Med also provided kit lists and advice on layering systems to the team. It was almost as if our partner, Alpkit, had a Spidey-sense for when adventurers need hiking apparel because, not two days before lift-off, a rather large box of goodies arrived at the office.

Suffice it to say, this mature group of well-respected developers, solutions architects and infrastructure engineers swiftly turned into giggling schoolchildren as they took out piece after piece of high-quality, durable hiking clothing.

Some of the impressive gear Alpkit provided for the group

With a total walking distance approaching that of a marathon (23 miles) in potentially monstrous conditions, first-class attire and equipment are essential. Alpkit duly obliged and provided the team with lightweight hiking trousers, two base layers, a softshell windproof jacket, a double-walled stainless-steel bottle, a waterproof rucksack cover and twin trekking poles.

Scott drinking out of the double-walled stainless steel bottle

Grateful as they were, the men didn’t yet realise how indebted they would be to Alpkit for these kind and generous gifts.

And so, with a target of 13 hours of walking and 11 hours of driving, this ennead of courageous travellers embarked upon the dogged journey to the celebrated trio of UK summits.

Peak one – Ben Nevis

This memorable adventure began at 6am on a Friday when Tim picked up the minibus, collected all the would-be heroes and set off to Fort William, Scotland, on a gruelling 12-hour drive. This long and relatively uncomfortable journey gave the gents time to bond and laugh. It also gave them the opportunity to inspect their Alpkit gear a little closer and get a feel for what they might need on their first ascent.

The group getting ready near the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre

It was clear that the Alpkit equipment would help with the challenge, with Scott noting that ‘it looked and felt like top-quality stuff’. Morale had been boosted and with everyone being in the same boat (minibus) clothing-wise, the guys felt like more of a cohesive team.

The Moon stayed out to watch the first leg of the climb

As the gang pulled into Glen Nevis Visitor Centre the next morning after a short sleep, the sun was just peeking over the horizon and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful, clear day. Such was the excitement of this expedition that the moon had even stayed up past curfew to offer its support to the gang as they launched themselves along the Pony Track and into lore.

Eight of the nine approaching the starting point

Donning a mixture of the Koulin Trail base layer, the Laika base layer and the Resolute softshell jacket, the men set off, conquering huge stone steps, passing through oceans of ferns, and overtaking resting mountaineers as they zig-zagged their way towards the halfway point of Lochan Meall An T-suidhe. Loyally followed by Tim’s drone which captured phenomenal imagery illustrating the sheer scale of the climb, the boys powered on. 

Making good use of the Alpkit hiking poles

It was on this 1,345-metre ascent that the Alpkit hiking poles first came into their own, with this vital bit of gear being voted the most indispensable by the team. With the first leg of the challenge being a 10.5-mile-long slog, the poles provided extra stability and helped with keeping a good pace when leg power started to wane.

Incredible Ben Nevis views including cairns, waterfalls and ice ledges

As they continued to ascend, the boys passed large cairns (huge mounds of stones built as landmarks by fellow hikers to symbolise the achievement thus far), waterfalls and even treacherous-looking ice ledges. They arrived at the extremely windy summit before 9am, full of a sense of accomplishment and solidarity now that the highest peak had been bested.

The gang celebrating and taking photos at the top of Ben Nevis

The visibility from the top was second to none and the panoramic Highlands scenery witnessed from such a great height is not something the group will soon forget. Alas, what goes up, must come down and so walking along, sometimes chatting jovially, sometimes in companionable silence, the team descended the peak to find Tim dutifully fixing leaks in the minibus roof and preparing hot water for much-needed Pot Noodles – what a champion!

Peak two – Scafell Pike

Back in the bus, the team devoured some food as Tim drove them south into England and towards the Lake District National Park. Despite being the smallest of the three mountains with an elevation of 978 metres, Scafell is considered by many to be the toughest climb. 

In fact, it is far from being in the top three highest peaks in mainland Britain (there are over 100 peaks in Scotland that are higher than Scafell Pike), but it is without question the steepest on the Three Peaks Challenge and is often referred to as ‘relentless’. Lesser climbers would have considered quitting at this point, but it has been said that if you can make it up and down the 6-mile-long Wasdale Head route, you have conquered the hardest part of the challenge.

Getting ready to tackle Scafell Pike

Even with this knowledge in their lockers, the team couldn’t have expected the conditions they would soon face.

Beautiful starting views and Anil's unshakeable spirit

Beginning the ascent at 6pm, the troop donned their Teleki hiking trousers (which had proven their worth during the light showers down from Ben Nevis by keeping legs warm, dry and comfortable) and covered their rucksacks as reports had come in that there might be some showers. The approach to Scafell was fairly favourable but the clouds obscuring the summit were ominous, to say the least. Despite having minimal sleep since Scotland, spirits were still high, in part due to Anil’s infectious positivity, with Andy Masters commenting that he was ‘always smiling, no matter what’.

Walking up into a cloud with the use of the hiking poles

With Wastwater gradually receding into the distance, the group passed a hardy number of sheep on the slopes, no doubt wishing they too had some Alpkit waterproofs! Before they knew it, they had passed the misty threshold and were enveloped in a blanket of thick fog. Even though their heads were literally in the clouds, they were focused and resolute to the last. Finding the trig point in such poor visibility was a challenge in itself, and once at the top, the gang spent only 5 minutes resting and taking photos as there was a consensus that they needed to start the descent before conditions worsened.

Med, Ed, Anil and Scott at the trig point at the top of Scafell Pike

This prediction was proven to be correct as the heavens opened and thunder and lightning began to whip and crack as they began their downward scramble. The whole crew noted how versatile the hiking poles were in this situation, keeping them stable on slippery terrain and offering support to weary legs. The rain turned biblical, daylight visibility was at an all-time low, and when the evening darkness came, it brought with it a whole new set of challenges. Andy suggested a boat of some kind would have come in handy, such was the torrent of water hitting them at every angle and flooding their footwear.

Coming down Scafell Pike as it starts to get dark

Morale was ebbing away and even Ben’s banter and mood-lifting jokes, which had served the collective well thus far, were not producing as many smiles as usual. But as 9pm came and went, the group, soaked to the bone, neared the minibus having accomplished the hardest part of the challenge in hideous conditions. 

Before leaving, there was time for spirits to be lifted when poor old Luke was left out in the deluge as the rest of the team used every available inch of the minibus to get changed and get dry. It was only then that it was discovered, much to the enjoyment of the team, that Luke had only packed one pair of pants!

Peak three – Snowdon

Around about this time on a Saturday night is when you might decide whether you want a dessert at your local restaurant or you might just be settling down to a movie and a snuggle. However, our handsome heroes were beginning another epic journey south in the bus with Tim at the helm. Sleep was hard to come by as they passed into Sunday and into North Wales but their Teleki quick-dry trousers and softshell coats were ready and willing to go another round with the elements.

Weary but still smiling as Snowdon awaits

As vital calories were ingested, critical for the climb ahead, the 5am start time quickly approached. Med commented that energy levels were fading and that the group (which was down by two members due to existing injuries that they did not want to exacerbate) was in danger of abandoning this final effort. However, despite these seeds of doubt, the unwavering mutual support within the team meant that six unflinching warriors embraced the concluding climb with gusto. The two that stayed behind were happy to gatecrash Tim’s party of one.

A pillar showing the way to Snowdon amongst some rocky terrain

Visibility was poor at the start of the 7-mile trek which took the form of the Pyg Track, the shortest route to the summit. But short doesn’t always equate to straightforward, and with knees starting to buckle, scrambling up and over large rocks and along some treacherous narrow ledges was an unpalatable way to see out the last leg.

The sun starts to break through the clouds and the boys pass Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw

Nevertheless, this climb was to become the most satisfying for many in the group. Having accomplished so much already in the face of adversity, this escalation signalled the end of ascents and the near completion of the assignment. As if to reward the team for their efforts, the fog cleared at the top of Snowdon, revealing magnificent views of Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw below. The boys opted to forego mountain swimming on this occasion (not even the prospect of finding Excaliber in Llyn Llydaw could tempt them) and instead, focused on the finish line and began their final descent.

Reaching the peak of Snowdon amongst very thick fog

It was all downhill from here on in and the esprit de corps grew exponentially when supporting each other, physically and mentally, became essential. Luke and Scott became injury-and-ache companions on the way down, the group more comfortable with one another than ever before.

A stunning view of the surrounding hills as the group descends their final mountain

And so, a little before 10am on Sunday, with an average step count of between 75,000 and 80,000, the squad reunited at the Pen-y-Pass car park. They had slightly overshot their 24-hour target but they had raised over £3,400 in honour of Ben’s dad for Alzheimer's Research UK and could now have a well-deserved, if not wholly comfortable, sleep in the minibus as Tim shepherded them back to the flatlands of North Devon.

Congratulations to all nine men, what an incredible achievement!

Straight from the horses mouths - Anil and Ben

Advice from the team that conquered the Three Peaks

Straight from the horses’ mouths, here are some helpful titbits if you’re thinking of taking up either the National Three Peaks Challenge or one of the smaller, regional challenges.

  • Train a lot, and when you think you have trained a lot, train about 50% more.
  • If you want to make it in 24 hours, keep the pace up wherever possible and don’t stop for too many photos. Take plenty of high-energy food for the drive in between climbs but not all sugary stuff – save that for the mountain.
  • Take plenty of water and only a few snacks for the climbs.
  • Get used to walking on very tired legs and get the miles in. If you can walk for 10 hours in a day covering 25 miles, you'll be fine.
  • Train in all weathers, take a designated driver, have emergency plans, eat, hydrate, take a pillow, and take alternative comms (we took two-way radios) to communicate with the driver in case the plan changes. Take a change of boots or a way to dry them.
  • Don’t forget your hiking poles.
  • Practice walks, practice walks, practice walks!

Drone photo of the group

Safety when doing the Three Peaks Challenge

It’s imperative that safety is at the forefront of your mind when planning and executing the Three Peaks Challenge UK. If you are thinking of organising your own group walk, please read through these recommendations so that you have peace of mind during the challenge, which will allow more fun to be had throughout your journey.

Similarly, if you adhere to mountain etiquette and consider your individual and group impact, everybody wins.   

Go Nice Places, Do Good Things

The group collectively said they’d recommend Alpkit to anyone looking to do some serious trekking, noting that they ‘only had praise for how comfy everything was and how well it worked.’ Now, all that’s left for us to do is convince the team to run the Three Peaks Challenge next year!

To shop the amazing range of hiking, running, bouldering and outdoor swimming gear at Alpkit UK, click the button below.

Go Nice Places, Do Good Things

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.