It was with great glee you bounced in the office that Monday morning. You were excited about telling Jenny you’d taken up a walking challenge. You knew she was a regular walker, away in the hills most weekends, spending her holidays in the Scottish Highlands, you admired her and wanted to share your exciting news with her that you too would be spending a weekend ‘on the hill’ walking and what’s more you’d be doing it for charity.
Her response was not what you expected. She didn’t return your glee when you told her you’d be joining a group climbing the National Three Peaks for a charity walk. She was quiet and took a few deep breaths. Inside she wanted to celebrate that you’d be heading off to the hills, but not like this, not on a weekend National Three Peaks challenge event. Oh, what a waste she thought, but how to respond?
“Jenny” you said, “you’re quiet, tell me what you’re thinking.”
“Over a brew,” replied Jenny “let’s go.”
And, over the brew she explained…
Each of the National Three Peaks is owned, or partly owned by a charity and where not, it’s private land with footpaths managed by bodies such as the National Park; bodies struggling for cash due to Government funding cuts. The John Muir Trust and the National Trust are charities which need to raise money to help repair the damaged footpaths on these mountains. The private landowners may get a little extra farm payment for having busy paths through their land, but footpath work falls to the national parks, the National Trust and the John Muir Trust. Each national park has a charity that campaigns on behalf of nature and the landscape. Charities like the Snowdonia Society and Friends of the Lake District are constantly chasing funds to help manage these precious and over-used landscapes, they even have to manage large groups of volunteers on litter picks on these peaks several times a year. And then again there are the mountain rescue charities. On Snowdon alone (never ‘Mount’) there can be over 200 hundred rescues every year, all carried out by volunteers. So which charity are you supporting on your walk?
And then there’s the driving. In these days of global warming and accelerated climate change are you seriously proposing driving all the way to Fort William (300 miles and six hours from Manchester, 516 miles and 9 ¼ hours from London) to walk up Ben Nevis, then drive to the Lake District and walk up Scafell, probably in the dark, and then to Snowdonia to ascend Snowdon. Will you inject cash into local economies? You’ve booked your dates – how will you know what the weather will be like? What about the people who live on those country lanes you’ll be dashing along to complete your challenge? With a total walking distance of about 23 miles and a driving distance between the peaks, never mind from home, being around 460 miles, is this really the best way to raise money for charity?
Companies dedicated to selling their services to guide the National Three Peaks can offer you slightly more ethical challenges, but if going for a long walk to raise cash for charity is what you really want to do, why not do it from home? Check out the canal path network, buy a map and find your own paths or look out for long distance routes, start here and find a challenge near home… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_long-distance_footpaths_in_the_United_Kingdom#Southern_England
With apologies to Jill Hudson who wrote something similar back 2003 https://www.thebmc.co.uk/three-peaks-challenge