The Railway Children’s annual Three Peaks challenge suffered the worst weather since its launch ten years ago.
Bad weather failed to stop teams from across the rail industry helping each other over fast flowing rivers, treacherous bogs and up and down mountains – often in driving rain and poor visibility.
Says Neal Lawson, managing director of First Capital Connect, who himself took part, ‘The hikes were extremely challenging, particularly the conditions on Scafell Pike, but the feeling of accomplishment for all of us was indescribable.’
Going up the first mountain, Snowdon, took place at night. Says Railway Children ambassador, Adam O’Connor, ‘By dark the weather was closing in and rain was falling heavily. People could not see the way ahead and I had to guide them up and down Snowdon. It was very difficult but people pushed themselves and we made it.’
By the time the challengers reached the Lake District the weather had worsened with streams become raging rivers and fields and paths flooded. Only three teams made it to the top before organisers called off the climb. Teams were ferried out by a local mini van driver who braved rising floodwaters to evacuate climbers.
The attempt on Ben Nevis the following day was also complicated by poor weather. Even getting up to Scotland was a challenge as fallen trees blocked the line north. Unlike routine passengers, challengers greeted the news cheerily and waited for the all clear in a pub.
‘It was truly one of the hardest challenges I have had to face,’ says Asif Ahmed, director, Rail Media Group. ‘I felt a real sense of achievement on the final summit Ben Nevis. More so when I heard we had raised over £170k as a group to date with more donations coming in. I would like to personally thank all 180 walkers who took part.’ Asif also paid tribute to the hard work by the organisers, train crew and Railway Children staff.
Craig Smith, of the Rail Media Group, still managed the trip despite undergoing recent knee surgery following a sports injury.
‘I think at the time of the challenge, I focussed on purely finishing the event in one piece,’ says Craig. ‘Afterwards on the train home, it started to dawn on me and others that we have actually raised a lot of money for an excellent charity.
‘That gives you as much satisfaction as actually undertaking the walk itself. Knowing your actions are directly affecting somebody somewhere turns a challenging event into an absolute pleasure.’