Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Tackling The Three Peaks Challenge In 24 Hours | Everything You Need To Know

Have you got what it takes to climb the highest point in Wales, Scotland, and England in just one day?

If you haven’t done it already, let the National Three Peaks challenge be the next achievement in your list of hillwalking accolades. I mean, what better excuse to raise some money for charity whilst keeping fit?

The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the highest peak of each country in the British Isles; Ben Nevis (Scotland, 1345m), Scafell Pike (England, 978m) and Snowdon (Wales, 1085m) are all ascended (usually in that order). Easy, right? How about doing all three of them in 24 hours?

Whilst all of the walking is technically straightforward, the name of this game is being able to keep going for a fairly long distance, with minimal sleep and around 13 hours of walking. The total distance for all peaks combined involves 37km and 3064 metres of ascent.

Pictured: The A82 section of Glencoe

Starting in Fort William to climb the Ben, the main crux of this challenge is driving the 462 miles down Britain to reach each peak. This is especially relevant if you don’t hire a dedicated driver and just plan on splitting the driving between you and your mates. We must add, this isn’t recommended by the official Three Peaks Challenge website, but is how we completed the challenge ourselves and we understand you may be on a budget.

On top of the eleven hours of driving you’ll have to do, use the following timings for each peak to pace yourself and your group during the day.

Ben Nevis – 5 hours.

Scafell Pike – 4 hours.

Snowdon – 4 hours.

Total: 13 hours walking time, plus 11 hours driving = 24 hours.

It’s a good idea to head out and climb whichever peak is closest to you for a little training mission. This will give you an idea of your fitness level and allows you to hone in your equipment choice for the big day.

Ben Nevis

Path to take: Mountain Track

Where to park:

Highlights: Standing on the summit of the UK’s highest mountain.

Ascent: 1356m

Time to summit: 3hrs

Length: 14.58km

This path was once named the Tourist Path, but got a rename in 2004 to avoid people assuming it’s some sort of easy walk in the park that can be completed in a pair of flip-flops and with some sandwiches stuffed into a plastic bag – this is a true story, I’m afraid to say.

We’ve placed the starting pin-drop at the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. The path from the hostel is pretty steep at first, so if you’d rather avoid this and go for a mellow start then we’d recommend you start at the Ben Nevis Inn… cowards.

Ascend gradually until you reach a flat section at Lochan Meall An T-suidhe (named Halfway Lochan, but isn’t actually halfway). Soon after the flat, you’ll start to ascend gradually until you reach the dreaded zig-zags where you’ll need to plod along up the mellow north west side of Ben Nevis to reach the summit.

Read a more detailed route description here.

That’s your first (and biggest peak) climbed, two to go!

Scafell Pike

Path to take: Scafell Pike From Wasdale

Where to park:

Highlights: You’ll most likely be getting down from this one in the dark, so getting back to the comfort of the car is a huge highlight!

Ascent: 900m

Time to summit: : 2.5hrs

Length: 8.4km

The lowest mountain in this challenge, but can still become a nightmare in bad weather – especially if you’re not properly equipped / experienced.

There are a few different paths, all of a similar length and technicality. We’ve shown the Wasdale route as it’s the most popular of these routes. Top tip. Do your research on the route that will be best for you and your group.

Starting from the National Trust carpark in Wasdale, ascend the path which follows alongside Lingmell Beck until you cross this stream. Keep heading up the track towards Lingmel Col, where you will do a right hand turn at the col to head up to the summit of Scafell Pike – the highest point in England.

Read a more detailed route description here.

You’re over halfway now and only a short drive down to north Wales to go!


Path to take: Pyg Track

Where to park:

Highlights: View down to Glaslyn from the Pyg Track.

Ascent: 800m

Time to summit: 2.5hrs

Length: 11km

The Pyg Track of Snowdon is a relatively straightforward affair, with a few rocky steps to keep things interesting. The track begins at the pin drop linked above which will take you through breathtaking scenery alongside Llyn Llydaw. Once you get to the stone steps, the slog really begins with a fairly steep ascent from here all the way up to the summit.

If you’re making quick time then head down the Miner’s Track, which offers a more mellow walk down and saves the knees from more abuse – especially after the ascent you’ve just climbed in the past 24hrs!

 Read a more detailed route description here.

That’s the Three Peaks Challenge completed. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?

Essential Kit for The 3 Peaks Challenge


Obvious one, this one. Maps are quite handy in navigating you up, down and around mountains. Don’t plan a trip before buying and studying the map of the area first to learn your route, then always check it throughout the day to ensure you always know where you are.


Goes along with the map really. Handy little devices that show you which direction you’re facing. Compasses can also point you in the direction of the safest way down, when paired with the map (as long as you know how to use them). Don’t go buying fancy compasses with mirrors, bells, whistles and a plasma screen on them; a Silva Type 4 is all you need.

Plenty of water

There’s lots of fresh water on the way up, but sometimes you can’t always guarantee the source of this freshwater. Bring a couple of water bottles, two to three litres for each mountain will do. You might also want to consider packing items like the Lifestraw, and the LifeSaver Liberty water purifier.


Head Torch

You can’t expect to complete a 24 hour challenge without doing some of it in the dark, even in the height of summer. Head torches are essential to be able to guide the way in the dark. Make sure every member of the team has packed one.


Blister Pads

A bit of kit that you hope you never have to use, but might well have to. That being said, these nifty pads are actually best used as part of an avoidance tactic so pop them on your ankles before you set off to avoid that dreaded blister forming five minutes into your first ascent.


Waterproof Jacket & Trousers

Completing this trip in Britain means that odds are you’ll get caught out in poor weather at some point. A solid, lightweight and waterproof jacket and trousers could make or break the trip, so don’t plan to go without some.

Solid Walking Boots

You’re going to want to buy a pair of solid boots that’ll support your ankles throughout the trip. The top of all of these mountains are fairly loose and with that, the risk of twisting your ankle becomes higher. Get some boots that your ankles will thank you for buying, and make sure you wear these boots in properly before the trip.

Food (lots of it)

It may seem trivial that you’ll need to be taking some food with you on your trip, but have you considered how much? You’ll be burning a fair few calories whilst walking up all those mountains, so load yourself with carbs; pasta, rice, potatoes. A good excuse to overeat!

We’re not saying this is the only gear that you should bring along with you the the Three Peaks Challenge of course, but it’s a good list to get you started with the shopping.

Dos and Don’ts

We don’t mean this article to seem like a boring ‘you should do this, you shouldn’t do that’ ramble. But, over the years, we’ve seen a few shocking things whilst out in the mountain  so we’ll do whatever we can to avoid seeing anymore cringe-fests. Here’s our list of things to keep in mind when planning your Three Peaks Challenge:

Do come prepared – You see so many people attempting these peaks totally under equipped and yeah, you might complete the challenge, but you might also have a totally shocking time in doing so. Having the right equipment WILL make your day easier and more comfortable. It’s as simple as that.

Do hire a mountain leader – If you’re at all worried about your navigational skills (they will be needed if your group is alone and the cloud rolls in), then it’s recommended that you hire a mountain leader who will be able to guide you up and down the mountains. There are many companies who run Three Peaks trips, if you’ve got the cash.

Do take all your rubbish with you – Nobody likes to see a mountain covered it rubbish. Just ’cause somebody else has left some rubbish on the mountain, doesn’t make it acceptable for you to do so. Also, banana skins, apple cores and orange peels take ages to degrade in mountainous environments and are not natural to these areas – don’t leave these behind either.

Do pick up others rubbish they may have left – If you see any litter whilst on the mountain, then do your bit and take a portion of it down to the bins at the carpark. People sadly treat mountains like a dumping ground, thinking that there’s a company there to clean it up – this sadly isn’t the case, they’re natural parks, let’s keep them that way.

Do work on fitness before – This is especially relevant if you’re not too much of an active person. Make sure you work on your fitness before hand. You and your group should all aim to be of a similar fitness, so that you can all enjoy an awesome 24 hours in the mountains together.

Don’t try to ascend in poor weather / visibility – Even though many of the paths on these walks are clearly marked, many groups still get lost when the visibility really comes down on you. Turn around before you find yourself halfway up a mountain with cliffs either side of you and no idea where you are.

Don’t try this in winter – The Ben in particular can become extremely serious to the unequipped and untrained in winter. Save this challenge for the long, warm days of summer.

Don’t go for a McDonald’s in Fort William before Ben Nevis – Yeah… We thought it was a great idea to go for a quick Big Mac brunch when starting our Three Peaks mission. This just made us feel bloated, heavy and shit before we’d even started. Don’t do it!

Don’t veer off the paths – See all of the eroded scars in the mountain sides? This is caused by people not sticking to the solidly made paths that are already there. One path on a mountain is enough – let’s not cause anymore damage to our planet. Stick to the paths.

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