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3 peaks challenge 2015

National three peaks challenge. Scafell Pike summit

Lake's 3000ers

Lake District 3000ers challenge. Helvellyn Striding Edge

Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge

Lake District 25 peaks challenge. Scafell Pike

Wasdale Mountain Rescue

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team Incident call-outs

See why it's safer to do your three peaks challenge with experienced guides

Organising your own 3 peaks challenge and want to learn some navigation for the challenge?

More information on the three peaks challenge:

3 Peak challenge


Lake's Top 10 challenge

Our toughest Lake District challenge - far tougher than the three peaks challenge

  • What's involved
  • Day 1
  • Day 2 stage 1
  • Day 2 stage 2 or (Day 3)
  • Prices

Visiting the summit of the 10 highest mountains in the Lake District - Pillar, Great Gable, Scafell Pike, Scafell, Great End, Bowfell, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn, Catstycam and Skiddaw.

You'll climb 4,574 metres (15,008 feet) and walk 47km (29 miles) in the process!

This is actually the top 11 mountains in the Lake District because you have to climb Bowfell over the summit of Esk Pike (the 11th highest).

The 24 hour option is a tough endurance challenge - we believe we are the only provider to offer it. Preparation is the key to success. It's a similar challenge to the 10 peaks challenge but this one is much tougher - you'd expect it to be considering these are the 10 highest mountains in the Lake District.

Be aware that the 24 hour version of this challenge is the toughest challenge we offer and is definitely not suitable for individuals who have no experience of hill walking. If you book the 24 hour option of this challenge you must be fit.

These mountains are not conveniently grouped so the challenge has to be done in three distinct stages with vehicle transport being used between each stage.

As well as the 24 hour option we also offer this challenge over two or three days:

Day 1

You'll climb 2,940 metre (9,650 feet)

You'll walk 27km (17 miles)

The Pillar to Bowfell group - 6 of the highest top 10 mountains including Scafell Pike THE highest of them all. This is a long, hard stage and is a tough challenge in itself demanding some considerable descents and re-ascents along the way. Starting in Buttermere and ending in Langdale it is a committing walk taking in the most rugged and remote terrain you are ever likely to encounter in Great Britain. You need to prepare for this challenge!

Day 2 Stage 1

You'll climb 984 metres (3,228 feet)

You'll walk 10 km (6 miles)

The Helvellyn 3 - a much gentler and shorter route taking in 3 more of the Top 10. If doing the challenge over two days we approach these mountains via the shortest but steepest route. If doing it over 3 days you have a choice of routes.

Day 2 Stage 2 (Or Day 3)

You'll climb 650 metres (2,130 feet)

You'll walk 10 km (6 miles)

Skiddaw - the last of the Top 10 and the easiest. A real mass of a hill but without any difficulties, the paths being wide and well defined all the way, almost like a road - easy going.

To book tel: 07584 177506


Pillar 892 metres (2,927 feet), Great Gable 899 metres (2,949 feet), Great End 910 metres (2,984 feet), Scafell Pike 978 metres (3,210 feet), Scafell 964 metres (3,162 feet) and Bowfell 902 metres (2,960 feet) (and Esk Pike - 11th highest - 885metres 2,903 feet)

You'll climb 2,940 metres (9,650 feet)

You'll walk 27 km (17 miles)

The day's itinerary includes 6 of the Top 10 including THE highest, Scafell Pike.

We start Day one of this challenge in Buttermere, one of the most beautiful valleys in the Lake District, and end in Langdale - equally beautiful - having covered some of the most dramatic terrain the Lake District has to offer.

Buttermere Fleetwith Pike

Buttermere looking towards Fleetwith Pike

The High Stile ridge rises abruptly from the shores of Buttermere to over 2,000 feet, apparently vertically, and is a geologist's delight with hanging valleys, volcanic rocks and extinct volcanoes.

It's a formidable scene and unfortunately this mountain range is a barrier to our first objective of the day, Pillar (8th highest). We therefore have to climb to Scarth Gap at the East end of the ridge and descend the other side into Ennerdale, losing all the height we've just gained. This is an early indication of why this challenge is such a tough one.

Ennerdale Valley

Ennerdale valley looking to Great Gable

Project 'Wild Ennerdale' is an attempt to return the Ennerdale valley back to nature. The forests of conifers planted by the Forestry Commission years ago are being felled and indigenous species are being allowed to repopulate the valley naturally. Galloway cattle have been introduced to the valley where previously sheep dominated.

Drumlins in the upper  Ennerdale valley

Drumlins in the upper Ennerdale valley illumuated by the early evening sun


Pillar as seen from the High Stile ridge - Scafell Pike and Scafell in the far distance on the left

Having descended into the Ennerdale valley we cross the Rriver Liza via the memorial footbridge to the other side where we start our ascent of Pillar.

Memorial footbride Ennerdale valley

The Memorila footbridge - partly funded by the Fell and Rock Climbing Club

River Liza Ennerdale valley

The river Liza from the Memorial footbridge

We ascend Pillar by a route called 'the Pillar Ride'. It's steep most of the way but allows us to visit Pillar Rock which, with Great Gable, was the birthplace of the modern sport of rock climbing.

Pillar Rock in the Lake District

Pillar Rock as seen from the Pillar Ride

We follow a mild scramble behind Pillar Rock to the summit of Pillar where you're rewarded with spectacular views of Great Gable and the Scafell range.

Pillar summit Lake District

Pillar summit with Great Gable and the Scafell range in the distance

From Pillar we head over to Great Gable (7th highest). Kirk Fell stands in our way but we can contour around this and avoid an unnecessary climb to the summit (unless you want to of course).

Great Gable is widely recognised as the birthplace of the modern sport of rock climbing and was the unlikely scene of illicit whisky distilling hundreds of years ago!

Great Gable from Kirk Fell in the Lake District

Great Gable as seen from Looking Stead on the descent from Pillar

Climber on top of Napes Needle Great Gable in the Lake District

Climber on top of Napes Needle Great Gable

Great Gable was purchased by the Fell & Rock Climing Club and was dedicated to it's members who fell in the Great War. The club donated it to the National Trust and a plaque adorns the North facing aspect of the summit area.

There is a Remembrance Day ceremony on the summit every year attended by hundreds of people.

Great Gable summit plaque

The plaque on the summit of Great Gable

From here there's a long descent to Styhead where we join the Corridor Route for our next mountain, Scafell Pike (THE highest).

Broad Crag, Scafell Pike and Scafell from Great Gable

Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Scafell and Lingmell as seen from Pillar

From Styhead we make our way downhill slightly to join the Corridor route that winds it's way along the West side of Great End and Broad Crag. This route is simply superb and the finest walker's route up any mountain in the district, affording intimate views into the gaping chasm's that cut so deeply into this side of these mountains.

Forbidding and repelling at any time but a truely awesome sight in stormy conditions. Well worth exploration but on another day and with qualified guides as these chasm's require climbing skills.

Piers Gill below Lingmell

The lower reaches of Piers Gill with Lingmell above. An unwary trap for many three peakers descending form the Pike.

From here it's a rather steep and unpleasant ascent of loose rock and scree to Broad Crag col. A few hundred metres further and we're on the summit of England!

At 3,210 feet above sea level the summit is the highest land in all England and the most rugged terrain you are ever likely to encounter in Great Britain. Weather conditions here can be extreme and can change in the blink of an eye. Navigation on 'the Pike' is notoriously difficult and is the one hill on the National 3 peaks challenge that is guaranteed to highlight any weaknesses in the inexperienced or ill-prepared. The statistics of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team tell their own story!

Scafell Pike summit cairn Lake District

Scafell Pike summit cairn in Summer

Fortunately you will be guided by our experienced mountain leaders who know this mountain extremely well.

Scafell is next which, from the summit of Scafell Pike looks tantalisingly close. Unfortunately direct access is barred by precipitous cliffs and a considerable descent and re-ascent is necessary via Foxes Tarn. This is the only safe route to the summit for groups from this direction.

From Mickledore, the narrow ridge connecting Scafell Pike to Scafell, you're presented with what can only be described as a cathedral of rock! The sight is truly awesome and you can only marvel at the forces of nature that crafted such a place.

Mickledore Scafell Pike to Scafell route

Mickledore and Scafell

From Mickledore we descend steep loose ground to our left and hug the base of Scafell's East buttress until we arrive at the point where we start the re-ascent. This takes us up a boulder filled gorge involving a little mild scrambling until we arrive at Foxes Tarn, which is more of a puddle really! Then it's another steep climb up loose ground and to the summit.

Scramble up boulder gully to Foxes Tarn

Scrambling up the boulder filled gully to Foxes Tarn

The actual summit of Scafell is a little disappointing after what you will have seen on the journey to get here. But a couple of hundred metres or so to the North and it's a different story. You're above the gills that cut deeply into the vertical cliffs with jaw dropping views into them. Deep Gill Buttress rises to your left from the depths below. Scafell Pinnacle and Pisgah rise in front of you - Rock archtiecture at it's best!

It's possible to scramble onto Deep Gill Buttress and onto Pisgah for an amazing photo opportunity.

Scafell summit cairn

Scafell summit cairn a bit of an anti-climax after what you've gone through to get here!

Deep Gill Buttress Scafell Lake District

But this makes up for it! On top of Deep Gill Buttress

Pisgah Scafell Lake District

And so does this! On top of Pisgah

Pisgah & Scafell Pinnacle on Scafell in the Lake District

Pisgah & Scafell Pinnacle rising before you from the depths below

After visiting Scafell we retrace our steps to Scafell Pike and head for Great End (5th highest), aptly named as it descends, apparently vertically, in chaotic cliffs for over 800 feet. Needless to say we avoid these and take the more 'pedestrian' route!

Great End

The cliffs of Great End in Winter

Our next top is Bowfell (6th highest) but the unavoidable summit of Esk Pike lies in the way so, unfortunately we have to do this one as well! (Esk Pike is the 11th highest mountain in the Lake District so you're actually doing the top 11. We could have called this challenge the 'lake's Top 11' but it doesn't sound as good as the' Lakes Top 10' !!!)

You'll notice a marked change in the colour of the rocks under your feet as you step onto Esk Pike providing yet more evidence of the violent volcanic activity that formed this region over millions of years.

Sunrise over Bowfell Lake District

The start of sunrise over Bowfell and Crinkle Crags from Scafell Pike - hopefully you won't need to be still walking at this time!

Bowfell's summit is every bit as rugged as 'the Pike's' though more compact. Conditions permitting we'll descend from here to the valley of Great Langdale via the Great slab, a tilted mass of almost flat rock which has to be seen to be believed. This area is a geologists' heaven as evidence of the turbulent history and formation of the region is so clearly on display. Then we access 'The Band' via the climber's traverse.

The Great Slab Bowfell in the Lake District

The Great Slab overlooking the Mickleden valley, Great Langdale

Alternatively we access 'The Band' by the more usual route via 'Three Tarns' and finish the day at Stool End farm only a few hundred metres from a number of refreshment houses below Dungeon Ghyll and the Langdale Pikes. You'll have earned some refreshment after this journey!

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Nethermost Pike 891 metres (2,922 feet), Helvellyn 950 metres (3,118 feet) and Catstycam 890 metres (2,919 feet).

You'll climb 984 metres (3,228 feet)

You'll walk 10 km (6 miles)

We start this stage from Wythburn church near Thirlmere and descend to Swirls for a freshen up before the next and final stage.

The hamlet of Wythburn no longer exists. It was demolished together with it's neighbouring hamlet of Armboth towards the end of the 19th century to make way for the enlargement of two lakes to form Thirlmere reservoir and dam to supply water to the conurbations of Manchester. The same fate befell Mardale in the Eastern Lake District.

Wythburn church

Wythburn church

Wythburn church stained glass window

The stained glass window of Wythburn church

Our first objective of the day is Nethermost Pike (9th highest). The route from Wythburn church is steep from the car park but eases off a little further up. The view improves rapidly as height is gained.


View of Thirlmere from the Wythburn route

Nethermost Pike is a featureless top and you may not even recognise it as the top of a mountain! Many people cross it every year without realising, as they head for Helvellyn.

Our next objective, Helvellyn (3rd highest) is a different matter. It's probably the most popular mountain in the Lake District and has one of the most famous ridge approaches to any mountain in the UK - Striding Edge - by far the best approach to Helvellyn's summit.

Helvellyn & Red Tarn

Helvellyn East face and Red Tarn. The Tarn reputedly is the resting place of a World War 2 De Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber.

The views from Helvellyn into the Eastern coves are breathtaking. If visibility is good the view extends to the Pennines in the distance.

Looking into Grisedale Valley from start of Striding Edge

Looking into the Grisedale valley from the start of Striding Edge

It's a short, easy stroll from Nethermost Pike to Helvellyn summit.

Helvellyn summit shelter in the Lake District

Helvellyn summit shelter looking South towards Nethermost Pike. It's not usually this quiet.

From the summit we need to descend Swirral Edge to reach our 3rd and last 'top' of the day, Catstycam (10th highest). Swirral Edge is much shorter than Striding Edge but it's equally entertaining.

Descending Helvellyn via Swirral Edge

Descending Swirral Edge - equally entertaining as Striding Edge



The summit of Catstycam is easily accessible by a short walk and about 65 metre (200 feet) climb. From here we need to re-ascend to the Helvellyn skyline so we can either retrace our steps up Swirral Edge or try our nerve on Striding Edge! Opting for Striding Edge requires a bit more effort but is to be thoroughly recommended.

Striding Edge

Scrambling up to Helvellyn summit from Striding Edge

Striding Edge Helvellyn in Winter

Striding Edge in Winter

Striding Edge demands a head for heights but is not technically difficult, the crest of the ridge being avoidable by a path slightly lower down.

Striding Edge Helvellyn

Stridind Edge - The finest way onto Helvellyn's summit

Then it's a steep descent to Swirls where transport awaits to take you to the last objective, Skiddaw or to your overnight accomodation.

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Skiddaw 931 metres (3,053 feet)

You'll climb 650 metres (2,130 feet)

You'll walk 10km (6 miles)

Skiddaw (4th highest) is the last of the big 10! It's the easiest stage of the challenge but this is the one you really need to dig into all your reserves - both physically and pyschologically - as you have already climbed the highest 9 mountains in the District and will be feeling it!

Skiddaw and it's satellite's are the oldest hills in the district and are made up of Skiddaw slate as opposed to Borrowdale volcanic rocks that make up much of the rest of the district.

Skiddaw from Helvellyn

Skiddaw and her satellites as seen from the Western flanks of Helvellyn

It's a huge mass of a hill but presents no difficulties apart from steepness in the early stages. The paths are wide and well defined. Being so close to the tourist area of Keswick it attracts lots of visitors and outdoor enthusiasts. You will often see paragliders toiling up it's slopes with huge packs on their backs and others soaring way above you (and below you) under brightly coloured canopies.

The summit ridge is about a half mile long and the views from here are well worth the toil.

We start our ascent of Skiddaw from the Gale road car park at Latrigg, saving us several hundred feet of climbing.

Very soon we pass a monument to the Hawell family who were sheperds in the area and noted breeders of prize Herdwick sheep. Take time to read the inscription on the base.

The Hawell monument Skiddaw

Howell monument Skiddaw

The inscription on the base of the Hawell monument near the start of the route from Gale road car park reads:

Great shepherd of thy heavenly flock

These man have left our hill

Their feet were on the living rock

Oh guide and bless them still

Herdwick sheep

Herdwick sheep - believed to be a Viking import hundreds of years ago and now very much at home in the Lake District

The path is steep in the lower reaches but eventually the gradient eases. The main path skirts around Skiddaw Little Man, a subsidiary top and eventually you reach the summit ridge.

Approaching th esummit of Skiddaw in the Lake District

The final pull before the summit ridge

The summit ridge of Skiddaw is about a half mile long and there are spectacular views for 360 degrees. The toil to reach the summit is well worth it. The weather up here can be truly fierce especially in winter and there's very little shelter from the elements.

Now Celebrate!

you've succeeded in climbing the ten highest mountains in the lake District!

Skiddaw summit Lake District

Celebrating climbing the top 10 mountains in the Lake's

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Please contact us for further information

mob: 07584 177506