This weekend, Peter and I were reminded by none other than Facebook, that three years had passed since we took on the National 3 Peak 24 Hour Challenge with a group of friends. To this day, I think it’s probably the hardest yet most satisfying thing that I’ve done and to have been able to share the experience with friends, made it even better. I’d never done anything quite like it before, but I knew that I enjoyed walking – which was enough for me to sign up! Peter and I had done a bit of training in the weeks leading up to the challenge, including a 17mile walk in the South Downs, but nothing could prepare us (or our legs) for what was in store!
After gobbling down a much needed burger in the Ben Nevis Inn, we made it quite successfully up and down our first peak within 4 hours or so, and set off to Scarfell Pike around 10pm. We arrived in the Lakes at a bleary-eyed 3am and reluctantly began the gruelling climb up a bleak Scarfell. My legs were aching like never before and in an attempt to keep our ascent nice and speedy, we took a detour over some uneven terrain, it was little surprise that the girl (me!) who trips over her own feet at the best of times, managed to fall down a rabbit hole and proceeded to have a panic attack. I’d never appreciated the power of oranges before that moment, but after being force fed a couple, I quickly bounced back to double the amount of energy and managed to keep up with the group to reach the summit and to get back down to the van in a not so speedy 5 hours.
I could feel that as soon as I sat down in the van, as we made our way to Snowdon, that my legs were getting stiffer and stiffer, and making the effort to hop out for a quick break at the service station became a huge pain in the literal bum! So much so, it was becoming difficult for me to lift my right foot up above the ground. I thought not much of it as the other guys were suffering too and I thought I’d be able to ‘shake it off’. Turns out, I was wrong!…. but we’ll get back to this story a bit later, for now, I’ll explain the point of this post!
Time for A New Challenge
Since the 3 peaks, Peter and I have been itching to do another similar challenge, and after buying our flat earlier this year, it needed to be something cheap and relatively close to home. And so, with those conditions; next month, we will be setting off from Winchester, with the challenge of walking the 100 mile South Downs Way, to sunny Eastbourne.
To tie the challenge in with a nice two weeks off work, we’re aiming to walk the 100 miles in 9 days and will be spending our nights in a mix of hotels, B&Bs and Youth Hostels – we couldn’t face carrying our tent / food on our backs… let alone the thought of sleeping on rough ground with achey legs! Although we’ve already done a fair chunk of the southern portion of the Downs, we’re really excited about walking through some truly picturesque villages and will be staying in: Corhampton, Clanfield, Cocking, Amberley, Upper Beeding, Pyecombe, Lewes, and Alfriston.
Our route should look something like this (you can view it here to see it in better detail):
Local, Seasonal and Organic – A Challenge within a Challenge!
We consider ourselves (rightly or wrongly?!) to be a lot fitter than we were 3 years ago, thanks to The Athlete Centre, and so we think that walking the trail in 9 days probably isn’t going to be as much of a physical challenge as the 3 peaks were; and that’s why we’ve set ourselves another challenge of aiming to eat local, seasonal and organic food produced within the National Park, where possible.
This side of the challenge is most likely going to be a little harder than the walk itself, but I’ve been doing my research and we’re looking forward to visiting a number of places whilst on our walk to hopefully give us an authentic taste of the South Downs for breakfasts, picnics and dinners, including:
- Locally sourced breakfasts – Corhampton Lane Farm, Saddlescombe Farm, The Sustainability Centre’s Cafe and Moonlight Cottage B&B;
- Picnics from farm shops such as Rushfields Farm Shop and Charlie’s Farm Shop; and
- Dinners in local pubs such as The Sussex Ox, which produces all its meat and potatoes on its own Organic Farm.
It’ll be interesting to see how easy or hard it is to find locally produced food within the National Park and whether we feel better for opting to eat this way.
Why I’m Raising Money for The Soil Association
Whilst walking the 100 miles and hopefully eating as locally, seasonally and organically as possible, I aim to raise money for the Soil Association. I know that perhaps this sounds like a bit of a strange choice, but for me, it was an easy decision and hopefully their aims will show why:
“Facing the future
Much has changed since the Soil Association was born in 1946. The world’s resources are being put under increasing pressure by intensive food and farming systems. Working with farmers, growers and researchers, we’re championing practical solutions to farming’s modern day challenges.
Good food for all
Good food should be the easy choice for everyone, whoever and wherever they are. We’re making good food available in nurseries, schools, universities, hospitals, care homes, workplaces and on the high street.
Through our trading subsidiary, Soil Association Certification, we work with over 6,000 businesses. The way these businesses operate achieves real change in the world – they farm without chemicals, they make and serve healthier food and they educate their customers.”
The Soil Association is a charity who ‘aim to build a world where people, animals and the planet can thrive’. Their work seeks to achieve this through supporting farmers and growers to research and tackle the most serious challenges facing food / farming through backing ‘Innovative Farmers‘. But for me, what attracts me the most to the Soil Association is that they are trying to get as high a quality food as possible, out to as many people as possible, by working with schools, hospitals and care homes – they truly believe that everyone has a right to have access to good nutritious food.
I believe that the Soil Association are helping to prevent future health problems that we might not already know about and that’s why I’ve decided to go against the grain, by not choosing a curative health related charity.
If you would like to sponsor us and in turn, support the Soil Association, then please feel free to visit our Just Giving page where you can donate big or small, and anonymously if you’d like.
So, did we finish the 3 Peaks?!
Once we arrived at Snowdon, we had around 5 hours to be able to get up and down within 24hrs, and it was there that the group decided to split – with Ollie, Laurie and David choosing to jog, yes! That’s correct, they chose to jog! Crazy people! But it was clear as soon as I got out of the van, that my legs weren’t functioning quite as they should have been and so Peter and I opted to walk at a leisurely pace, and managed to hobble back to the team in 6hrs.
Although Peter and I didn’t manage to do all the peaks in 24hrs, we both felt hugely proud that we carried on, even though we weren’t in the best shape. Working as a team, we gave each other the strength and support to finish the challenge – the sense of achievement was immense. Peter and I have since summited Snowdon again, in much less painful circumstances and absolutely loved it.
Tips on Finding the Perfect Challenge for You
- Work out what activity makes you tick or what would you like to improve on. For me, I love walking (hence this challenge and the 3 peaks) but I also know that I really should read more books and that’s why I’ve challenged myself to reading 20 books in 2016.
- Set a realistic goal or target. Choose a challenge that will stretch you mentally or physically, but that won’t be completely unachievable.
- Tell your friends! By sharing your challenge, it’ll be a little easier to keep going because you’ll have their support and backing – which makes a huge difference!
I’d love to hear about any personal challenges that you’ve set yourself, either in the past or anything upcoming – share below!