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English UK’s Three Peaks Challenge: mission completed!

Published Lynne Farrugia on Friday, October 26, 2018

We did it!

All 13 members of the English UK team completed our second Three Peaks Challenge, starting and finishing in the dark, with a 25-mile walk and Yorkshire’s three highest mountains ticked off in the intervening 11 hours and 50 minutes.

So far, we’ve raised around £10,000 of our £15,000 target for the Eddie Byers Fund, enabling us to support many more people to transform their lives through learning (and we’re still very happy to accept donations here). Thank you to everyone who’s supported us. You helped to keep us going through a very long day.

It’s been an extraordinary adventure. The walk itself was an unforgettable experience. By just 9.15 (bang on schedule) we were all on top of the first mountain, Ingleborough, with the sun up and beautiful views.

Coming off Ingleborough was rather more challenging, down an incredibly steep and rocky path which needed hands as well as feet. On the upside, there were amazing views across the plateau to Whernside, our next summit. Another upside was our first taste of the wide, flat paths and steps on much of the Three Peaks route, created (according to our guide, Chris) from the remains of Yorkshire’s industrial buildings.

After a quick refuelling at our support vehicle, we started moving towards peak two – where the more challenging ascent included a long run of almost vertical steps which led us into swirling, wet mist. Time for waterproofs, and to wave goodbye to any hope of views from the top.

Arriving at the summit for our 12.30 deadline, we took a quick photo and were off again down a long, long ridge, over the railway line and past the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct before once again catching up with the support car for lunch.

Damon, the expedition leader, looked at his watch. “You need to leave again in 5 minutes to stay on schedule,” he said. Since several walkers were still coming in and needed a bit of a rest, that wasn’t going to happen. So, sandwiches rammed in and a photo taken, we were instructed to walk up the road as fast as we could to make up time.

Visible – a long way in the distance – was Pen Y Ghent, the final peak. The next couple of hours were frustrating, as it didn’t seem to get much closer – and when it did, it was over several more ridges which were starting to take their toll on the legs and lungs of some of the party. It began to look as though we might not make our 12-hour target, but we were determined to give it our best shot.

A signpost appeared, offering the direct route back to our end point. Did anyone want to take it? Sam Byers, Eddie’s widow, who had only decided to join us for all three peaks at the last moment, shook her head. “I’ve come this far – I’m finishing this,” she said. We cheered, and trudged on.

The final ascent was tough, and we were beginning to doubt whether we could make our 7pm deadline at the village pub.

But as more and more walkers appeared out of the mist to claim the final peak within the expedition leader’s timings, hopes were raised. Could we do it? The pace quickened, as we picked our way – often on backsides – down wet and slippery rocks before making it to the grassy slope and out of the mist

Watches and phones were checked, and we speeded up again.

And suddenly, the lights from the pub were there, with 20 minutes to go. A few minutes later, walker after walker appeared, cheered and clapped on by colleagues chanting: “We’ve done it!”

By 12 minutes to seven, everyone had completed the challenge, and was ready for a final picture with our sponsor banner before a shower, food, and the bottles of prosecco Sam had tucked away in the fridge at 6am.

What made it such a special day? Determination and teamwork.

Everyone supported everyone, sharing positivity, snacks and ibuprofen.

And how many groups of colleagues could spend two nights listening to each other snore in a basic bunkhouse, with creaky bunks, squeaky floors and plastic mattresses, and not only remain cheerful but start planning the next challenge in the minibus back to London?

The English UK walkers were: Roz McGill, Annie Wright, Tom Weatherley, Helen Kind, Louise Gow, James Broadway, Susan Young, Jodie Gray, Nuria Felip Puignou, Alice Marcolin and Huan Japes, with Mark Rendell, deputy chair of the English UK Board of Trustees, and Sam Byers, Eddie’s widow.

Thank you to everyone for all your support.

- The Eddie Byers Fund was set up in 2016 (originally as the Eddie Byers Scholarships) with over £15,000 raised during the National Three Peaks Challenge completed that year by staff and friends of English UK.

- The EBF made four awards in 2017 to UK-based charities supporting refugees and asylum seekers, all for projects enabling people to learn English to transform their lives, and has made five further awards in 2018, to support English learning among asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, and for schoolchildren in Tanzania and Palestine.

- The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge aims to raise £15,000 or more to keep the EBF going and enable it to make further awards in the coming years.

-For more details, contact susan@englishuk.com

- Please donate if you can!



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