Ben Nevis & Snowdon in 48 hours self-drive

In 2013, a friend of mine, Barry, had founded The Suffering Race hosted in Rockingham Castle, Corby.

It was considered one of the toughest races in the United Kingdom. He had purposefully made the distance 30% longer than published, added more obstacles, imposed more punishment and generally made life miserable for entrants.

They all loved it. At the end of the race you had run through the local rugby team who were waiting.

Barry and his business partner also had a side hustle organising small tours and events around the United Kingdom. Trips to the Peak District and that sort of thing. I was at a loss one weekend and Barry asked if I wanted to do the 3 Peaks. No charge, just come along as a Team Medic and bit of support he said.

Sure I said, I’ll go.

There was just one problem, the bus was leaving on Friday morning to go to Scafell Pike in the Lake District and I had a business meeting I could not get out of. If you don’t know the 3 peaks then you normally take a bus to the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike (978m), climb it, get back on the bus where you nap/eat and it takes you to Ben Nevis (1345m), the highest peak in Scotland. You climb that, and return to the bus where you eat and sleep and the coach driver takes you overnight to Wales where you wake, breakfast and climb Snowdon (1085m). You return to the bus and are driven home. The hardest part of the trip is telling your legs to keep walking up and preventing cramp.

Bus leaves on Friday Barry repeated.

No worries, I said confidently. I will just drive to Ben Nevis, climb it with you, then drive to Snowdon and climb that with you as well and drive home.

In 2 days? Barry asked.

In 2 days I nodded.

That is 1000 miles of driving. Nearly no sleep. It is 9 hours to Nevis, then you need to summit it, get back in your car, drive another 8 hours to Snowdon, summit that, then drive the 4 hours home.

Yes.

Famous last words.

Itinerary

  • Friday 1500: Leave Corby in 1998 BMW 5 Series (Silver) with questionable reliability
  • Friday 2245: Arrive in Fort William, Scotland
  • Sleep
  • Saturday: Ascend Ben Nevis via the Mountain Track
  • Saturday 1800: Leave Fort William and drive to Llanberis, Snowdonia
  • Saturday 2359: Stop at Preston, sleep in the car for an hour
  • Sunday 0600: Arrive Llanberis
  • Ascend Snowdon via the Llanberis Path
  • Drive back to Corby for Sunday night

Total Miles

1048

The Story

It was closing time on Friday night when I stumbled into the hotel in Fort William. The restaurant was just finishing for the night, nothing more would be served. The crowd of 22 hikers let up a cheer when I walked in.

You made it!

Barry handed me a plate of still-warm food. Well done. You must be shattered.

Not as shattered as you. How was Scafell?

He confirmed that there were no injuries but some of the party had mixed abilities, from the very fit to the unfit. His business partner was consistently stringing the group out and leading the fitter members at a higher pace. I chewed my food and mulled it over.

Tomorrow is another day. Ben Nevis.

It was nearly 11pm, I had driven from Corby, Northamptonshire, over a mist-covered Rannock Moor and through the majestic Glen Coe to get here but for the most part it was scenes like this for 9 hours.

That morning we set off at a manageable pace, me with my trusty laptop bag, some water and a first aid kit and a Go Pro Hero 3.

The Mountain Track to the top of Ben Nevis was formerly named the Tourist Track but it led to a negative image…

To be Continued