Three Peaks Challenge
FORDINGBRIDGE FIRE STATION TAKE ON THE
1996 FIRE SERVICE THREE PEAKS
One winters evening Sub Officer Steve Coles was reading the
various information that is disseminated at the start of each drill
night. In amongst this was the first mention of "The ThreePeaks
Challenge". I suggested that we have a go, a few rueful glances were
the only response, except for Paul Dorrington, who as usual will
have a go at anything of this nature. After much discussion over the
next two drill nights we decided to enter a team.
Practically by return of post the information pack and the entry form
came back from Sub Officer 'Ludo' Macaulay, Event director. On
reading this a few members of the station cast dispersions on our
abilities, regardless we soldiered on.
There were a few changes in personnel as we neared the event; the
final team of six was Paul Dorrington Derek Jones Dean Palmer
Derek Horsburgh Andy Brooks and myself (John Mouland).
The aim was to complete the challenge of climbing Ben Nevis,
Scafell Pike and Snowdon in under 24 hours which includes the
travelling between aft three peaks and to raise as much money for
the National Fire Service Benevolent Fund as possible.
This involved acquiring a minibus for the transportation of the team
to Scotland and between theThree Peaks. The one we used was
made available to us by Forres Sandle Manor School. We sold
tickets so that people could guess how long the Challenge would
take us. The two main prizes for this were a ferry trip for two and
car to France over any five day period in the next year, donated by
McConnell Travel of Boscombe and Brittany Ferries and a three
month full membership of the Forest Edge Leisure Centre at Sandy
Balls Holiday Centre.
Apart from this form of fund raising we asked for sponsorship
towards the cost of fuel and personnel sponsorship for each team
member. All these sponsors we will thank personally but to
everyone who gave us help please accept this as a sure sign of our
Obviously we all intended to take lots of photos of the weekend and
Colourcare of Downton kindly donated tee-shirts, films and the cost
of development for which we are very grateful.
At 3 O'clock on Saturday 22nd June 1996 the Team assembled at
Fordingbridge Fire Station for breakfast ably cooked by Julia. After
this substantial meal we set off for Scotland. Dean was our main
driver with Derek Jones as back up both for driver and in case one
of the climbers had a problem, which they did.
By Birmingham I had realised that my climbing boots were by the
front door at home. This was not good but at least it gave every one
else a good laugh, Derek Jones had a spare pair so all was not lost!
While driving through the Lake District Derek Horsburgh remarked
that the sheep on the distant hills looked like maggots, I misheard
and thought he had said magnets. All I could think of was the sight
of these fridge magnets stuck all over the hills.( you had to be
We made one stop for food at a lovely village pub in a place called
Blackford, The Landlady had two lovely puppies, one of which
Dean wished to take home but she would not be parted from them!!
We stayed Saturday night with Deans brother John at Beauly near
Inverness. He invited us to a friends Bar-b-que which he said was a
short distance and an easy walk away. Wrong. This, we came to
think, was his idea of some last minute training as his friends house
was a good two miles away, up hill and as we were carrying
copious amounts of liquid refreshment this trip became something of
Being the day after midsummer's day the sunlight does not
completely go in this area of Scotland. This being so we found it
was 1.30 by the time we left the party. Not ideal preparation for the
In the morning we travelled to Fort William via Loch Ness,
unfortunately no sign of Nessie. With a few hours to kill before the
start it was appropriate to do some present/ souvenir shopping. The
rest of the team' kindly' presented me with a fridge magnet in the
shape of a sheep on the side of a mountain with two pairs of
climbing boots on its feet. How kind!
At the Fort William Fire Station we were given out start time of
17.51 hrs. It was actually going to happen. This event was new to
our entire team thus none knew what to expect.
Bottom of Ben Nevis just before the start of our Challenge
There were 58 teams entered, the organisation involved was
monumental and our thanks go to' Ludo' and his team who ran it on
behalf of The Fire Service Sports and Athletics Association without
From our start we followed a team with a gorilla in one of their
rucksacks. I do not think it was real but we saw it quite often in the
Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the British Isles; it looked it,
with what we presumed to be the top covered in cloud. The first
part seemed steep but we were told there was an area called the
Plateau which would be easier, it was, for about five minutes, then
proceeded to get steeper. As we approached and went through the
cloud the thought was "not far now'. On arriving above the cloud it
became apparent that there was as much mountain above as below.
The overwhelming factor was that the views were tremendous and
as we went through a small belt of snow the knowledge that you
were near the top kept you going.
On reaching the top the photo opportunity was too good to miss, it is
breath taking. Also in the age of new technology mobile phones
were in much evidence, coming in handy to inform the support team
to have the tea on when we got back down. We arrived back at22.52
and had five and a half hours to drive to Scafell Pike. As the
climbers tried to get some sleep in the back Dean drove through the
night arriving at 4.49 starting to climb the highest peak in England
This was a different climb, apart from the first one and a half miles
it was very steep. Almost like climbing large uneven steps for two
hours. The loose rocks and boulders are what drains you, watching
your footing was all consuming. That is except for the fast teams
whom 1 am sure are not human but mountain goats in disguise!!
The top of Scafell pike at 6.00am on mid-summers day 1996
Going down Scafell Pike was my worst ordeal, mainly because I
contracted cramp that was so bad I thought I had pulled a ham
string. We were about a mile from the bottom, first my left ham
string, then my right and then my left calf It took all the talking by
my fellow team members to keep me walking but it worked and we
got down in two hours, slow, but we made it.
After quick refreshments we were off to Snowdon. We logged in
and off up the mountain at 14.14. Everyone was getting tired now.
Snowy (Horsburgh) said he thought this was the worst because as
soon as you rounded the corner and could see Snowdon the top was
evident. Thus even though the initial path was not too bad the
knowledge that you had to reach that peak via steep paths was
The team were hoping to catch the train back down, unfortunately it
was fully booked so they had to make the trip back down by foot
even though the timing stopped at the top.
Our total time was 22hours and 26minutes, which to us first timers
was incredible but the winning time was 16hours and I minute. This
was set by one of the teams of mountain goats masquerading as
What was most enjoyable was the camaraderie and team effort put
in by all concerned. The views from the peaks are not done justice
by the camera. This last comment is possibly bought about by the
elation of completing the task.
Altogether we have raised over £1000.00 for the FSNBF and have
taken part in a highly demanding test of our abilities. I for one was
certainly proud of our achievement.
We did it again in 1997 raising more money for the Fund in a good time