How we braved the Three Peaks by Rail challenge

Posted on in Events News

Three Peaks

About two hundred eager souls gathered on the warm June evening at Crewe railways station to take part in the annual Three Peaks by Rail challenge, organised by the Railway Children charity. Two teams from the Young Rail Professionals organisation were among those people and I was one of them.

Young Rail Professionals was founded in 2009 to promote the railway industry as a great place to work and to inspire and develop the next generation of railway talent. YRP bring together people from all aspects of industry, whether they are involved in engineering, asset management, train operations, strategic planning, maintenance, franchising, regulation, marketing or human relations.

This was my first time taking part in the challenge, which involves climbing three highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland, often within 24 hours. Our challenge was slightly different though, all of the participants were from the railway industry so our mode of transport between the peaks was, of course, a train.

The goal of the challenge is to raise funds for the Railway Children charity that helps thousands of children across the UK, India and East Africa who run away or are forced to leave homes that have become unbearable through poverty, abuse, violence and neglect.

Each team of four is raising a minimum £3,500 and this year's challenge had total of 42 teams that raised a whooping £188,000 on the day of the challenge. The collection of funds for this challenge continues six weeks after the Peaks and you can still support our Young Rail Professionals teams here

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The challenge started with a jolly train ride to the first Peak in Wales, a 1085 meter high Snowdon. Our first hike began at around 22:00 in pitch darkness and although this was the shortest hike, it was the steepest. Scrambling through the rock with only a head torch to guide you, hundreds of people formed a magical trail of flickering lights trailing all the way to the peak. The first hike was also the shortest, our Young Rail Professionals team finished it in three and a half hours.

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Once all the teams were back at the train at about 5am, we headed off for the second peak, the 978 meter high Scafell Pike in England.

All challenge participants had about 2-3 hours to sleep with a quick breakfast on board of the train as the next hike was about to start. By this point most of the walkers were sharing stories about which body parts ache the most, but we knew there were two more peaks to climb! This walk was quite uneventful right until the end, when after nearly four hours of walking the hope that the peak is just around the corner was shattered with each tired step. A cold windy fog engulfed the roof of Scafell Pike and the rocky terrain left you with an eerie feeling that you have been abandoned on some unfriendly planet and your only choice is to adapt. Teams going down kept saying that the summit is just "ten minutes away". At this point ten minutes felt like another year. But few more stiff hours later, we were back at the train station, waiting for the other teams to return. During this time a local woman that works at the railway station offered me and another girl from our team to use her shower and refresh. This felt like such a luxury! It made us remember why we are doing this challenge. To help the children who lost or never even had access to a soft bed, warm shower and a safe space.

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We were now on the way to the third and the highest peak, the 1345 meter Ben Nevis in Scotland. We had about six hours of sleep on the train before the last challenge.

Our last walk began 5am welcoming the sunrise and after two hours of solid uphill walking we were met with gusty winds and sideways rain. Everyone scrambled to get their waterproofs out and braved on. At this point some of the challenge participants started to give up as the pain and fatigue became too much to bare. Ben Nevis was not making it easy for us. We've entered the rocky and snowy terrain of an alien planet again. Chatter and laughter was long forgotten and the only thought was to just get to the summit and get back on the train. Our Young Rail Professionals team reached the summit soaking wet, stiff cold but happy and proud. After taking few shaky pictures we hastily headed back.

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In total our team has walked 15:50 hours and we are now planning our next challenge!

If you would like to contribute to the amazing work that the Railway Children charity is doing, please support us by contributing to our goal to raise the funds!