Friends tackle Three Peaks for homeless people

11 Jun 2013
by Neil Skinner

A group of friends has climbed not one, not two, but three mountains in aid of homeless and vulnerable people in their communities. As if that wasn’t enough they managed to tackle the whole lot in just 24 hours – raising a total of more than £1,300 in the process. 

The intrepid seven took on and completed the Three Peaks Challenge over the weekend, which saw them conquer the three highest peaks in England (Scafell Pike), Scotland (Ben Nevis) and Wales (Snowdon) during a gruelling but fun expedition. 

I think they had a more realistic expectation of how hard it would be than I'd had when I signed up - they asked what training we were doing, which probably made me realise we actually needed to do some!

Michael Gillie

The team members (and their official roles) were Adam Balai (organiser), John Balai (head navigator), Phil Sherratt (driver and Facebook progress updater), Tom Wale (driver and Head of Flapjack), Stephen Jackson (chief photographer), Andrew Hawkins (Glasgow host) and Michael Gillie (sponsorship and publicity). 

A well earned rest!

Michael, Housing Strategy & Development Officer at Gedling Borough Council, took time out to answer a few questions for us. 

Why did you decide to support Framework in this way? 

“I work in housing, and I've taken part in The Big Sleep Out a couple of times before, so I know how essential the services are that Framework offer, and I've always admired their focus on the individual's needs and supporting them to take control of their life. I did the challenge with a group of friends from Beeston Parish Church, and many people from the church have been very supportive in the past and interested in Framework's work, so when we decided to support a charity, they naturally sprang to mind. 

How difficult was it to complete the challenge? 

“It was hard work. Each mountain on its own is a pleasant afternoon's walk - doing all three in 24 hours means you have to walk fast. The final climb up Snowdon in warm afternoon sunshine was enjoyable, but some serious exercise. Also, our preparation was not exactly professional – two or three circular walks in the Peak District, mostly ending up in the pub! 

Have you ever done anything like this before? 

“We all enjoy a bit of hill walking, but none of us have done anything like this. I think the Three Peaks is a great way to see some spectacular scenery, and to spend an enjoyable weekend with friends, but I wouldn't do it again. It's a bit of a novelty, but you don't get chance to really see the area before you're off again and, with around 1200 miles driving, it seems quite wasteful of diesel. Maybe my next challenge will be a long linear path - perhaps the Coast to Coast Walk or exploring more of the Scottish Highlands.

What was the hardest part of the challenge?

“Scafell Pike is not a very easy mountain to walk. It's a steep and relentless climb, the top half of which is across a boulder field of shattered rock. The path is tricky to see and it's hard going underfoot. One of our party pulled a muscle getting to the summit and had to slow right down, but he then went all the way down again without a single break, making sure we finished on time despite his injury - that was an incredible effort. 

What did your friends and family say when you informed them of your intentions? 

“I think they had a more realistic expectation of how hard it would be than I'd had when I signed up - they asked what training we were doing, which probably made me realise we actually needed to do some! 

Any memorable incidents along the way?

"We maybe didn't have the ideal preparation when our hotel's fire alarm was set off at 2am the night before. We spent half an hour in the car park with two fire crews and a delighted hen party, who were intent on carrying on their disco outside, then the disco seemed to move into the room opposite ours. We didn't get as much sleep as we'd have liked! 

“We also had to adapt our plans after finishing Ben Nevis, when we found the vital component to connect our gas canister to the stove wasn't in the box, so we couldn't heat up our food. We made a flying visit to a friend's flat in Glasgow to eat pasta at midnight, before carrying on to reach Scafell Pike at 4am.”

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