3 Peaks Challenge

3 Peaks Challenge

A team of staff and parents from the Joseph Whitaker School began training 10 months ago to undertake the National 3 Peak Challenge.  The aim is to ascend and descend the three tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales within a 24 hour period. The purpose of the event was to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society and the JWS Outdoor Education Programme.

The team departed Joseph Whitaker School and arrived at Fort William at 00.20 on Saturday 15th June 2019, on arrival the team prepared in calm and relatively warm conditions.  The team began its ascent of Ben Nevis at 01.00, the initial 90 minutes was a gentle climb in ideal conditions, but this soon changed when they met the cloud base at approximately 700m.  The visibility dropped to less than 10 meters and the team slowly climbed to the summit reaching 1345M.  The summit was far colder than expected with a temperature of -6, the team made a swift descent through the cloud back to the visitor centre car park at the foot of the mountain.

On arrival at the Visitor Centre the support team had everything prepared for the team including food and recovery areas. The teams then departed south to the Lake District.  The drive took approximately 5 and a half hours and during the journey the effects of the first climb began to take effect.  Rain greeted the group as they arrived at Wasdale but this was short lived and the remainder of the afternoon was sunny and warm.  The team began to climb Scar Fell Pike with increased purpose and drive, achieving a time of 3 hours 31 minutes.  Once the team reached the car park it was a speedy exit to Wales to ensure that the group had enough remaining time to climb Snowdon within the 24 hour period.  The team arrived in North Wales just before 9pm, giving them 4 hours to ascend and descend Snowden.

The initial 3 km which weaved around llyn Tarn and llyn Llydaw Reservoir was very picturesque, but it was clearly going to become difficult with the thick, black cloud set in at 700 m.  The team began to slow as they ascended the track towards the summit of Snowdon, the group began to show signs of being tired and disorientated in the conditions but everyone reached the summit in 2 hours 1 minute which was a phenomenal achievement. The conditions were akin to sitting in thick mist with your car headlights on.   The team had 1 hour and 40 minutes to descend; this would be tight on a good day and the poor visibility slowed the team down on their descent, but on the lower sections the team moved frantically to reach the target time of 24 hours in the driving rain.  The team took a total time of 4 hours 30 to arrive back to Pen Y Pass, just missing out on the 24 hour target but everyone managed to climb all three mountains.

The Challenge Team


Mr Phillips           Challenge Leader

Mr M Ayres        Assistant Challenge Leader

Mr Beeton

Mr Craske

Mr O’Donnell

Mrs Ayres

Miss Mayes

Miss Edwards

Mrs Holt

Mrs Tatham

Miss Hopkinson


The Support Team


Mr Needham

Mr Bell

Mr C Ayres



The team have so far raised over £2130 from staff, parents and family friends.

Mr Phillips Outdoor Education Coordinator and Team Leader said:

‘The staff have trained for this challenge during the last year but the impact of the weather conditions on Ben Nevis at the start and Snowdon at the very end were decisive factors in the final time. Each individual had their own high and low points during the weekend but it was pleasing to see that everyone stayed together as a group and completed the challenge as one. We are determined to repeat the challenge next year, well nearly all of us!’


Mr Bell Headteacher said:

‘To be able to witness the level of commitment of the staff and parents during this event was heart-warming. Some of the faces of the group as they completed the Ben Nevis climb really made me doubt if they would complete the challenge; it was clear that the conditions at the top of the mountain had really had an impact on their spirit. However, their resilience was superb and it was only due to rain and darkness that they fell 30 minutes short of their target. I would commend the whole group but especially Chris Phillips whose idea it was and whose organisation made it possible. Zak Needham and the Ayres family contributed massively to its success as well. The group were supported by the whole school community in raising over £2000 for the 6th Form charity and outdoor education’.