We recently sponsored a local bunch of guys who took part in the 4 peaks challenge. The guys did really well and raised a lot of money for the Wooden Spoon Society which supports disadvantaged children around the UK. Here is how they got on….

Tuesday 30th June.

Still bleary-eyed from the festival, I had to get up at the crack of dawn and get down to Exeter to pick up our Ford-supplied 4 Peaks Galaxy. Being responsible for an immaculate vehicle with only 9 miles on the clock and only Jane (the friendly SatNav lass) for company, the journey back through Exeter was more than a little on the scary side.

First stop was Emprint in Glastonbury who had very kindly supplied us with the corporate sponsor’s car stickers as their sponsorship. With instructions on how to apply them I made my way back home and, give or take the odd bubble and crease, didn’t do a bad job.

Wednesday 1st July.

STILL bleary-eyed from the festival, I was picked up by the south Somerset contingent Tim Barber and Shane Warr and after loading up all the journey gak we made our way up north via Bath where we picked up the aforementioned ‘father’, Bath Abbey curate Adrian McConnaughie.

Even though we all knew the way, we kinda felt a bit mean not including her, so we punched Fort William into Jane who ‘calculated our route taking traffic disruptions into account’. The journey up was pretty much uneventful apart from the Murray match which we were able to watch as TechnoTim had managed to get his mini TV going.

Just when we thought we’d stopped enough times - near Crewe for lunch, at Tebay for fourses and at Luss on Loch Lomond to empty bladders - we made one more stop near the end of Glen Coe at the Clachaig Inn (which Tim assured us newbies was ‘tradition’). It was quite simply the best inn ever with over 160 malts to choose from. Not that we did of course as we still had another 20 miles to go until our B&B.

After checking in, we wandered down into Fort William to get some tea and opted for the Everest Indian Restaurant before heading up to ‘The Grog and Gruel’ to join some of the organisers and other challengers for the Grog part. It was shoulder to shoulder in there and as everyone had their 4 Peaks rugby shirts on it looked more like a scrum at Twickers than a quiet pub in the highlands.

(Quick tip for large blokes like me; Instead of wearing a football shirt and looking like you ate all the pies, get yourself a rugby shirt and suddenly you’re transformed into a finely tuned athlete.)

Due to the big day ahead of us we decided to call it a night quite early and made our way back to the B&B.

For some stupid reason, Tim and I thought it would be fun to sprint up the very steep hill to the B&B with a couple of Guinnesses and Lamb Tikka Massalas on board which we regretted for the next hour or so as we moaned ourselves to sleep.

Thursday 2nd July.

Bleep, beep, ring, beep. Ah, now I see why Adrian and Shane didn’t want to share a room with early-rising TechnoTim. But a Blackberry call and donglemail later we slouched downstairs for our first fantastic breakfast of the challenge.

First official requirement was a photoshoot at the Lochaber Leisure Centre, where one by one, the teams had to pose in front (and in some cases on top) of their cars.

With a bit of time to kill and with the temperature at 29°C, we decided to go and do a bit of sight-seeing. First up was Neptune’s Staircase which is the longest staircase lock in Britain which consists of eight locks on the Caledonian Canal. They were filming for ‘Country Tracks’ up there and presenter Joe Crowley was very interested in our challenge and didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t recognise him.

With the weather turning grisly, we decided to make our way up to the Glen Nevis car park to recce the start of the evening’s climb before making our way down to the Nevis Centre for team registration and a pre-event briefing. As you can imagine, there was a bit of waiting around that day so we initiated the first communal game of car park Frisbee.

After a doom-and-gloom talk about the dangers of mountaineering and a description of how one must sit in a thunderstorm, everyone made their way up to the Glen Nevis car park for the 4pm start of the challenge.

With Vaseline in every conceivable crevice and with more Lycra on show than at Donington in the 80s, the 39 teams made their way up Ben Nevis. In a thunderstorm near the summit some of the more sensible teams made good use of the crouching techniques demonstrated to them back down on earth, while the hastier teams just kept running throughout.

While the hiking three quarters of the team were up there getting soaked, we, the drivers, had a much more difficult challenge in the shape of ten pin bowling back at the Nevis Centre.

Three hours later and it was time to pop back up to the car park to await the return of the teams.

First over the line were Adrian and Shane, followed closely by Tim who was possibly beginning to wish he had not chosen the two fittest guys in Somerset to run with.

They recorded a time of 3:08 which was a great achievement and set them well on their way to managing their sub-ten hour goal.

They were loudly cheered by the drivers and marshals and without further ado jumped into the river to cool down and wait for the other teams to come back.

With the guys suitably cooled, we made our way to the next peak, stopping in Tyndrum for fish and chips en route. Due to an incident on the normal route back down to England, Jane suggested we drove via Stirling, but we still managed to get to our Travelodge at Southwaite services (Carlisle) by about 1am. The wind was really picking up now, but with four blokes (even if one of them is a priest) in a confined space for so long, it was bound to happen.

Friday 3rd July.

So, two hours’ sleep later and it’s time to bundle ourselves into the car and head on to Swirls car park at the foot of Helvellyn.

Of course, the problem with driving a running team around is that you don’t get much time to catch up on sleep while they are on the rocks. So, just as I was drifting off I heard the familiar sound of the finishing line cowbells and realised it was time to perk up again. Helvellyn was conquered in 1:31 which meant they had been up and back by 7.45 am. Another quick cool-off in the river and it was off to the nearby Threlkeld Cricket Club for a shower, an intensely painful massage and our second fantastic breakfast of the challenge.


Right, back to the car again to discuss with Jane about how best to get to Llanberis.

It took a bit longer to get to Wales than we’d hoped, but we still made it in enough time to see if Caernarfon’s Morrisons had anything more to offer than our own. Nope.

Got to Llanberis’ Royal Victoria Hotel by about 3pm and got the second game of communal Frisbee underway, this time getting passers-by to join in.

The Pyg Track car park can get very crowded so after kit checks in the hotel car park we had to drive the teams up Pen-Y-Pas, drop them off and then come back down to the hotel, where we were served soup and sandwiches and were able to watch Murray get an absolute Roddicking.

The boys managed Snowdon in 2:10 which left them 3:51 for the last peak to make their goal of under ten hours.

It was on the next stretch than Jane and I began to lose faith in one another. We eventually found Holyhead however and kinda wished we hadn’t. Makes Swindon look like Rome. Anyway, we parked up at the Travelodge and braved it past the various karaoke splurges and Burberry-clad Oisters (kids who shout ‘Oi’) to find somewhere to ‘dine’ before making our way back for another couple of hours’ sleep.

Seems a long time ago that I wrote ‘Friday 3rd July’.

Saturday 4th July.

(or 2 hours later..)

Caught the 2am ferry and went to find a suitable bit of carpet or bench that didn’t already have a 4 Peaker stretched out on and got a couple more hours sleep. Would have been a bit more, but stupidly I didn’t turn my phone off, so as we crossed the Irish Sea, I was rudely awoken by an Eircom tariff text. At least it gave me a chance to see the Isle of Man at dawn.

By 5:30am we were all back in our cars waiting patiently to get out of the ferry and all 45 cars semi-convoyed through Dublin before trying to work out the best routes down to Killarney. They are still making the motorway in Ireland so Jane was more confused than any of us, but we eventually managed to find our way and made it by about 10am.

We pulled into the car park at the foot of Carantouhill and while the guys got kitted up, I wandered off to see Eileen. She is ace. She is a lovely old lady who lives in a cottage in the car park who opens her home for walkers and insists on giving them tea and homemade tray bakes.

So off they went onto peak number 4. Arguably the hardest peak, not only because of the notorious ‘Devil’s Ladder’ (which is the only reason all climbers are required to bring helmets), but because there is also a river after half a mile which you must wade through up to your waist meaning you have to walk the rest soaking wet.

At least the walkers had a lovely surprise of having the marshals at the summit serving Pimms and lemonade to the walkers, which is one of a few lovely touches that they add to keep morale high.

Also the pirate marshals at the river crossing were holding apple-bobbing competitions for those walkers not so hung up on getting down quickly. 

Before the ascent, Tim cooled a bottle of champagne in the river and as they crossed the finish line he did a Räikkönen covering everyone in his path. There was good reason to celebrate though as they had managed a time of 2.45 which meant a total of 9:35 for the 4 Peaks which was 25 minutes less than they’d hoped.

There was a real party atmosphere at the bottom of Carantouhill, with a barbecue, free Guinness, more massages and a live Irish folk band welcoming all the challengers back over the line.

It was now time to head to the Dunloe Castle where we would be spending the night.

After making ourselves at home in our rooms, we all scooted off to the pool area where all the challengers were alternating between sauna, steam room and swimming pool and generally pampering themselves. Could have stayed there all evening but we had the small matter of a Guinness reception, a meal and the presentations to attend.

At the presentation many teams won prizes for different things and as a team we came 2nd overall, won the Ben Nevis Award and managed to raise over £5,500 which went towards to grand total of £265,104.22 for the 39 teams.

All money raised will go to help fund projects for mentally and physically disabled children and young people.

After the presentations, the bar opened and the folk band ‘Tuatha’ fired up again and kept ploughing through singalongs ‘til the early hours.

Eileen the tea lady was the last standing and danced with every man there.

Sunday 5th July.

Woke about 8.30am (somehow) and decided to make the most of the sauna, steam room and pool again. Could have stayed there all morning but we had the small matter of fantastic breakfast number three. Now THIS … was the mother of all breakfasts.

The team would like to thank all of their sponsors, particularly the businesses whose names were displayed on the team’s car and shirts – William’s Supermarket of Somerton, The Somerton Printery, Bath Abbey Shop, Emprint of Glastonbury, Tamburino’s of Yeovil and Music Skills of Somerton. Individuals wanting to make a donation should visit www.justgiving.com/fatherupthehill. Further details on the event and the team can be found at www.spoonchallenges.com

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