Three Peaks

The Three Peaks Challenge

The National Three Peaks Challenge is a mountain-endurance challenge in Great Britain in which participants attempt to climb the highest peaks of each of the island's three mainland countries; Scotland, England and Wales.

  • Snowdon (Wales - 1085m)
  • Scafell Pike (England - 978m)
  • Ben Nevis (Scotland - 1345m)

Although the challenge has no official rules or time restrictions, most participants try to complete it within 24 hours including the transportation time to travel between the mountains. The John Muir Trust and other conservation and governing bodies such as the National Parks and National Parks Authorities are trying to encourage those who are determined to do the challenge despite the conservation, environmental and local area issues, to undertake a slightly more leisurely challenge over 36 hours or to take a weekend to enjoy not only the challenge itself but the local areas around the mountains as well.

"The John Muir Trust and others have warned about the damage and disruption caused by the Three Peaks Challenge (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) and similar events. We urge people to consider other ways of raising funds and to think twice about taking part." - John Muir Trust

The mountains climbed, in order of elevation, are Ben Nevis 1,345 metres (4,411 ft), near Fort William in Western Scotland;  Snowdon, 1,085 metres (3,560 ft), from Llanberis in North Wales; and Scafell Pike, 978 metres (3,209 ft), typically from Wasdale in North-Western England. In all the challenge involves some 42 kilometres (26 miles) of walking and approximately 9,600 feet of ascent, with total travel between the mountains of around 765 kilometres (475 miles). The challenge is usually undertaken starting with Ben Nevis, the highest, and for many the most distant.

A minority of participants choose to start and finish the challenge at sea level, touching the sea with their hand at the sea loch in Fort William and the sea in Caernarfon, which adds approximately 20 - 30 minutes to the overall time. The vast majority simply start and end at a representative point at the foot of the first and last mountains (Ben Nevis and Snowdon or vice versa).

There is no formal governing body of the National Three Peaks Challenge but The Institute of Fundraising and in consultation with the various parties, concerned about the rocketing numbers of 'Three Peakers' attempting the challenge, have issued guidance for organisers and three-peaks participants. There is also the Three Peaks Partnership, formed in 2013, with the aim of bringing the various charitable bodies who are responsible for the areas concerned together under one organisation for the purposes of managing the growing numbers of people taking in the challenge.

Each year a large number of organised attempts are made at the challenge. In 2008, an estimated 60,000 people undertook the Three Peaks Challenge, approximately twice the number than was officially booked with the appropriate authorities, and made up of the larger events plus the smaller groups of 'unofficial' challengers.