The Acre Foundation

24 peaks in 24 hours!

Posted on 25 October 2014 by Helen

24 peaks in 24 hours!

We, the 24 Peaks Team, arrived in the early evening of Wednesday 17th September at our bed and breakfast in Windermere, a little nervous but very excited about challenge lying ahead. We went out for a hearty meal together, and spent the evening discussing the hike and thoroughly enjoying each others’ company despite the very definite ‘last supper’ feel to the night!

We departed at 5 o’clock the following morning in the minibus to our starting point Gatesgarth, near Buttermere… after all the months of training, fundraising and preparation, we were off.

Our first peak was Seat, as we hiked up, the morning was just getting light and it was incredibly beautiful. With plenty of enthusiasm and gusto we reached the top. Next peak, Haystacks.

The scenery and views in every direction were stunning. The lakes and mountains were breathtakingly beautiful and we were so incredibly fortunate with exceptionally dry weather. It felt as if the sun was shining to support us and help us through the gruelling hike.

It was a super feeling for us all to be together and achieving this as a team. We dug deep and pushed each other to persevere, and as we reached the summit of each peak we remembered the reason we were doing this, to raise money for Great Ormond Street, and we hoisted the Acre banner to cheer ourselves on to the next!

On day one we climbed and conquered Seat, Haystacks, Brandreth, Green Gable, Great Gable, Lingmell, Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England at an elevation of 978 metres (3,209 ft) above sea level), Ill Crag, Broad Crag and the aptly named Great End. On day one we started at 6.30am and finished at 8pm, weary but proud.

On day two we set off from Kirtstone at 7am and started the hike up Red Screes, our first peak of the day. My muscles were screaming and burning in pain and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete the challenge, but pushing these thoughts out of my mind and metaphorically over the edge of a peak, I powered on.

Our guides Sam and Jamie, of Exped Adventures, were totally superb and expertly navigated through the morning mist. I regularly rely on Google maps for city walking, so they were extremely reassuring, and I really appreciated their advice, experience and technical guidance on how to best traverse the varied angular surfaces.

In the moments of extreme exhaustion and pain, the views and the beauty gave me energy, and inspiration. The friendly faces of the Herdwick sheep (unique to the Lakes) and their comical bleating definitely helped me persevere, but without my Acre team mates and the spirit we shared, I’m not sure I would have kept going.

We talked as we hiked, motivating each other or sometimes simply just chatting to take our minds off our sheer exhaustion. Richard, while chatting away to Michael (and I hasten to add, this was totally unrelated to Michael or his conversation) slipped on a flat, incredibly smooth rock. Fortunately, his backpack cushioned his fall, and like a protective shell, prevented any serious injury. I knew the heavy bags would be worth the effort! Richard was totally unscathed by his fall and he kept up an impressive pace throughout. But not long after this, chatting and walking with Richard (and unrelated to Richard I hasten to add) it was my turn; my right foot suddenly disappeared into a hole and I was ankle deep in thick mud. Luckily Jamie was on hand to help scoop out the mud from my boot. No damage done and I managed to provide everyone with a moment of slap-stick comedy.

I developed a very deep appreciation of our walking poles; I had never used them before and had no idea of just how critical they would be to the angles and the speed at which we were walking. Christian somehow managed to snap a walking pole on a descent; I didn’t realise he was so strong, and he wasn’t even angry, just determined.

Josh set out with a pair of crutches as part of his day pack due to an underlying ankle problem. What an inspiration he was on day two whizzing past like an action man; swinging his body up and down the peaks, always with a resolute smile.

Bairbre was consistently cool, calm and upbeat the whole time. Simone and Lydia were in great spirits and even sang at the top of their sweet voices at one point, it was a great moment and it spurred us all on, even if it was borderline disturbance of the peace.

I’ll use this blog to make both a confession and give my thanks; Andy King carried my back pack for the last two peaks! I’ll be forever grateful for this act of heroism and I am so glad he had recently joined the business and agreed to come on the hike at such short notice.

On the penultimate peak, and I don’t know where she found the energy, Jess suddenly transformed herself into a fell runner; her pace lead and inspired the group and she managed to maintain it to the end.

The elation we all felt on the top of the 24th peak was palpable; we were so proud and so emotional to have achieved this amazing feat, but the challenge wasn’t yet over, we still had to make it to the end of the route, and keep up the quick speed. The adrenaline kicked in some more and we pushed our minds and bodies on with all our might to the finishing point.

Over day two we climbed and conquered Red Screes, Dove Craig, Little Hart Craig, Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Lower Man Helvellyn, White Side, Raise, Sty Barrow Dodd, Watson’s Dodd
and Great Dodd (plus another 2 kilometres slightly flatter walk to a pub and a celebratory beverage). Total distance covered; 52km. Total time taken to climb all 24 peaks; 23hour 35 minutes. We did it!!

The months of ramped-up training and commitment we put in paid off. But despite being the fittest I’ve been in a long time, this has been the hardest thing I have I ever done. But it has also probably been the most worthwhile, and without doubt each team member has taken away something great from the experience. We have achieved what we set out to achieve, and we have raised an enormous amount of money for our chosen charity, Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity, in support of the work they do to benefit the children and their families.