The Three Peaks Challenge, reaching the highest summits of Scotland, England and Wales (Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon respectively) within 24 hours is a poplar objective for many walkers.
With this much walking to do, the longest days of the year around mid-June are perhaps the busiest challenge days. Consequently the weekend just past was possibly the busiest. When we arrived in Wasdale there were already a dozen or so mini-buses in the valley, and all weekend – despite the miserable weather – challengers marched past Brackenclose on their way to the summit of Scafell. Some were wearing just trainers and cotton gym tracksuits in the driving rain. How dangerous is that? Maybe this is okay for a fine summer day, but with nil visibility and wind strong enough in the valley to rip branches from mature oak trees (see video here – therefore certainly much stronger on the top) it has to be foolhardy, doesn’t it?!
Why do the challengers come?!
Well, aside from the obvious physical challenge, taking a look at the Red Cross web site suggests it is to raise funds for their charity – and boy they must be raking it in – £250 to take part, plus a minimum sponsorship pledge of £2,750! A nice little earner for the charities. 😉 😉
Plus there’s all the money spent on equipment, food and of course not an insignificant amount of petrol/diesel to ferry all those people half the length of Britain. How much of this money goes into the local economies of Fort William, Lake District or Snowdonia? None! :angry:
These people –
- Often buy all their supplies (food and equipment) back in their base areas,
- Burn 100s of litres of expensive carbon fuels,
- Erode footpaths,
- Don’t linger even an extra second to notice the beauty of their surroundings,
- Block up tiny country lanes with dozens of waiting mini-buses, and
- Perhaps worst (?), leave rubbish all over the hills in their wake!
I bet they even think their green credentials are intact thanks to the charitable contributions! :angry:
This one was at the summit cairn, others were simply discarded on the grass to side of the footpath. 😥
In the mountain environment banana skins take years to biodegrade! Thanks to the combined effects of desiccation in baking sunlight on fine days and freezer-like conditions in winter these skins will fester on for years to come. Not nice! :angry:
Sure, it’s a free country and everyone is free to accept a challenge and enjoy the mountains – I, and my friends, get out in the mountains and challenge ourselves every day we can. But… We linger in the mountains and enjoy their beauty. Sure, we use quite a bit of diesel/petrol driving to Wales etc. too, but we go for the whole weekend or longer to savour these places. We support the local economies whenever we can by buying a cup of tea, cake, meal, pint, equipment, etc. from local businesses and shops. And as for the worst (?) offence of these visitors – litter? We NEVER EVER leave any litter what-so-ever!
Come on guys, if you can’t do the green version, the Sailing Three Peaks Challenge and spend your food budget locally, at least make sure you contribute a bit to the BMC Access Fund (to help maintain footpaths) and most of all take your litter home! Easy.