Life is Full of Peaks and Valleys

I haven’t had the best week this week, it’s been rather exhausting, I haven’t had the energy to do anything in the evening and I’ve felt a little uninspired at work. I’ve been hanging around the valleys of life. This has prompted me to think about the peaks that we climbed last year, to inspire me to get out of this valley and climb on up to the summits of life!

Last Year (2018) it was on Ernie’s ‘to do list’ to complete the 3 Peaks Challenge. The 3 Peak Challenge, challenges people to climb each of the tallest Peaks in the UK;

Scafell Pike (978 m) in England,
Snowden ( 1,085 m) in Wales and
Ben Nevis (1,345 m) in Scotland, which is the tallest peak in the UK.

He started with Ben Nevis, which he climbed by himself as I was travelling along the East coast of America at this time. This does mean however that I didn’t get to complete the 3 peak challenge- climbing only Snowden and Scafell Pike with him a couple of weeks later. It’s something I am keen to finish before the end of the year, so if anyone is up for joining me I’d be happy, I always find it easier to complete a climb with someone else.

Anyway, he took a coach up towards Scotland to complete his climb up Ben Nevis. His pictures taken are not the best quality as he was limited to using his phone to take photos.

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He climbed on a terribly foggy day, you can see from the pictures at the bottom and half way up the mountain that he couldn’t see the summit, or even right infront of himself at times!

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Luckily there are cairns that have been placed along the routes to get to the summit. Cairns are man-made stacks of stones that are placed to help with direction, especially on foggy days like this, when visability is poor.

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Following the cairns and making his way through the fog he managed to reach the summit!

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The whole assent and descent took him just under 8 hrs.

Whilst he was around Ben Nevis he took the opportunity to visit the Angel of the North in Gateshead and see his favourite football team play in Newcastle.

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3 weeks after Ernie had climbed Ben Nevis, we climbed Scafell Pike and Snowdon together. This was during our 2 week ‘staycation’, where we travelled parts of the UK in the Bongo. It was our first time travelling together and first time taking out the Bongo so I was quite excited for a different kind of holiday.

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The day we climbed Scafell Pike was also overcast, however we could still see some of the peaks from the surrounding mountains. We drove to Wasdale or Wasdale Head, where we were able to park the car in a National Trust car park. From here you can also buy drinks and maps, if needed. There are no toilets or shops at the top of this mountain so it was important to make use of the portaloos at the bottom near the car park… even if they were the smelliest loos I’ve ever been in!

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On our way up this mountain there was a family walking down with 3 young children about 3 and 4 yrs old, one of the parents were also carrying a child in a sling! I said ‘ if they can reach the top we definitely can!’ The kids were loving clambering themselves down, even though each rock they stepped on was like a mountain to them in comparison to their size! They took it in their stride and it looked like they had a field day (pun intended). It makes me think of the future and the kind of things I’d like to do when we have our own family.

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It was so windy at the summit and it began to rain, that didn’t put us off taking a couple of summit selfies. Although, I was worried that the phone might be swept out of my hand! The assent and descent took us about 5 hrs.

A week later we had travelled into Wales. I’d been to Wales before, my brother and his girlfriend live here but they are in Cardiff in the South. Snowdonia is in North Wales, we decided to spend some time around the area and camped for a few days in a farm. The farm was about half an hour from Pen Y Pass, which is a great starting point for the assent as it has toilets and a cafe.

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I really enjoyed our day climbing Snowdon, the weather was beautiful and the lakes on the way up were picturesque. There were many people hiking, probably because the weather was so great and it was during the school holidays.

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From Pen Y Pass there are a number of routes you can take up to the peak, we originally chose the Pyg Track route but got a little lost and ended up along the Miners route- these two join later on up the mountain anyway. There is also a railway that runs from Llanberis station and takes passengers to the summit. It’s funny to see the train along the route as it somehow looks as though it doesn’t belong there. It actually brought back a memory for me of going to Wales with school when I was about 10 Yrs old, I realised whilst hiking that I had been on this train with my peers as a child!

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The summit was very busy! Surprisingly there was no wind at all, although it had become a little chillier. There is a cafe and visitors center with toilets at the top of the summit. We managed to grab a hot chocolate before making the descent.

The whole climb and discent took us about 5.5 hrs, but we spent a good 45 minutes in the visitors center and taking photos at the top.

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We like to pretend we added a 4th peak to the list too when we climbed Carrauntoohill in Ireland- although the Republic of Ireland is it’s own country and this peak is not part of the peak challenge. We climbed this during our week touring Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland in the Bongo. It was a great mountain to climb and my most challenging. Part of the climb is called devils ladder and I can see why it is named so!

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Devils Ladder
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Resting on Carrauntoohill

I’m so pleased that Ernie managed to complete all three of the peaks during the summer last year, although he still needs to apply for his certificate!

Writing about these mountains are making me think about what I want to achieve next. My friends, Bibi and Tom, have recently hiked across the world heritage site, Hadrians Wall. This is 83 miles from coast to coast! I loved seeing their daily updates on how they were getting along, even though it looked difficult, they definitely inspired me to take on this hike in the near future. Just look at the scenery!

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Another friend, Tobias, is currently cycling from Canterbury to Rome to raise money for mental health charities and to raise awareness of mental health. You can follow him and his friend, Andy, as they continue their journey, currently through the Alps, or go fund there charities here.

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This kind of journey is also inspiring and is giving myself and Ernie ideas for challenges in the future. Ernie has been researching climbing Mt Blanc recently and we are both entered for the Hackney Half Marathon in 3 weeks time… This is a little scary, fingers crossed I can make it across the finish line!

I’m slowly climbing back up towards the summit! The power of reflection wins again!

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