English Lakes Hotels Charity 3 Peaks Challenge
The first of many guest blog posts from Tim Bell (General Manager of Lancaster House Hotel) and his team as they prepare for the ultimate British Mountain Challenge – Ben Nevis, Sca Fell Pike & Snowdon in 24 hours in aid of English Lakes Hotels sponsored charities Open Arms International and the Primrose House Trust. Follow the teams progress here and on Facebook with further information on how to donate to the charities to follow soon.
So, it's the witching hour, March
3rd 2010 and yesterday I created a Facebook page for our 24-hour 3-peaks Charity
Challenge. The initial over-excitable idea once flirted over a cup of tea with
colleagues at work is now really starting to take serious momentum. Time to wake
up and smell the Bovril Tim!
Blog 1, and I guess this first encounter
should really tell you, the blog-reader (is there a "proper" term for them? If
so, then please let me know because I really need to be kept on the straight and
narrow with this type of thing!) where this whole crazy idea started and where
it initially intended to go.
Bit of background first I guess. I'm
Cumbrian born and bred, and like so many of us, I never truly really appreciated
what was on my doorstep. Sure, we spent family days in the Lakes when I was
young; Inflatable "Woolworths" dinghy's on the shores of Ullswater, my Uncle Ian
(and his set of small, black & white books about the Lake District, but more
of that later) lifting me effortlessly on to his shoulder's as we rambled though
Kentmere. Then there was camping with scouts in the cold, dense forests of
Lowther, and of course the compulsory school geology field-trips into deepest
Lakeland to see how Continental drift and Igneous intrusions had forged this
magnificent landscape. (zzzzzzzzz – How on earth did I remember
Did I appreciate it back then? Well, maybe I did, but only as much
as a kid or a teenager could ever expect to. Hey, my time was dedicated to BMX
bikes, accumulating a music collection to annoy my parents, and staring
endlessly at a poster of the famous page-3 girl, Maria Whittaker on my bedroom
wall. But times moved on, and so did my career and years spent moving from
county to county, from Berkshire to Perthshire, and several places in
But in winter 2003, I moved back to the North-west, to northern
Lancashire, and for me, as close to my original home as I would probably like to
be. I was nearer to my family, and my good friends in Manchester, and of course
the county of my birth, and the beautiful district it holds so proudly in its
boundary, like an artist
clutching their definitive masterpiece.
During the years and my various
career moves, the Lake District had grown in to something different in my mind,
something to be proud of and brag about to colleagues, something familiar and
yet mysterious. And here I was, back on its doorstep, and eager to forge a new
relationship with it, minus the woggles, text books and acne of
re-discovering the lakes, mainly from behind a steering wheel I must confess
though! And then one september afternoon in 2007 whilst camping at Parkfoot on
the shores of Ullswater, I convinced Sarah Garton that we should take a casual
stroll up one of those ominously beautiful peaks. Armed with nothing but a
bottle of Evian and a Twix Bar (which were consumed within about 30 minutes), we
headed up the Glenridding ascent of Helvellyn. No stepping stones here then. Sod
the "Helm Crags" and "Haystacks", let's go for a full on attempt of Lakeland's
most notorious summit. Perhaps Wainwright was spot on when he said of this
mountain – "….it is the objective and ambition of the tourist who does not
normally climb". I think if the great man knew what "LOL" meant, he would've
probably slipped this annoying abbreviation in to his pictorial guides as a sly
dig at every man or woman who felt the pain this under-estimated mountain can
bring to the novice, wet-eared walker.
I'm not going to bore you with the
gory details, but one can only describe that experience as an assault on every
sense my body feels! "Shock and Awe" hardly seems strong enough in this
instance. But this was a defining moment nonetheless, and it told me, in a
language as blunt as the great Cumbrian dialect itself, that :- a) I love this
place, and b) Thou's not in grand fettle Tim!
Two and bit years have now past
since that sweat-drenched, lung-stretching, muscle-breaking, but more
importantly – life changing day! Gone are the sleeveless Nike shirts, holiday
shorts and market-leading chocolate bars. They have been replaced by Berghaus
fleeces, Ronhill thermal layers, Camelbak ruck-sacs and Bananas. My love for the
Lakeland mountains is serious, and to truly appreciate them, my attire had to
step up to the mark too!
So when English Lakes Hotels
announced it's commitment to Open Arms International at the same time I joined the board of
trustees for Primrose House the answer to that ever-burning question -
"How can I do my bit to help?" became as clear as a mountain-top view on a
cloudless day! I've got to do the 3 peaks!
My sister had successfully done the
challenge the previous year, but somehow I never felt I could rise to that kind
of challenge. After all, she's been casually trotting up Sca Fell Pike and
various other "Top 10" mountains for several years now! But my love of this
pastime, combined with the desire to make a difference for those less fortunate
than myself, led me to make a commitment. And now in my 30's, I really am
conscious of my "101 things to do before I die", and this one ranks right up
there with the best of them! And let's face it, who's gonna trust me with a
Bugatti Veyron? Let's get realistic here!
So, here we are in March 2010, 3
months before the big "off", and we have now assembled a small but highly
dedicated clan of 6 volunteers willing to give up hours, neigh, day after day of
their precious free time to train hard, prepare, and actually "do" Britain's
biggest mountain challenge.
As I sit here now, I feel a
multitude of emotions about the whole thing. I'm excited sure! But I'm also
nervous and apprehensive. Dazed and confused, Motivated, but melancholy. Is this
the usual cocktail of feelings a "3-peaker" experiences? Maybe, maybe not. But
we're going to do it, and do it properly. We're going to raise money for two
great causes. I'm in no doubt that despite how much training we do between now
and June, we're going to go way beyond any physical boundaries we may have
previously set as our tolerable limit. I'm sure there will be sweat, tears and
blood, but hey, the latter doesn't bother me on the basis we have one of
Britain's best paramedics in tow.
So, I'm conscious that this first
blog has very much been "my story", but this whole thing isn't about me. It's
about a group of volunteers, who have made a commitment to raise money for two
great charities, doing something they love! Well, saying that, you'd find that
statement hard to believe if you heard the foul language that can emit from
one's mouth when tackling a particularly steep and frustrating mountain path. I
get the buzz from reaching the summit, others in the group get there's from the
adrenaline-fuelled rush of stretching one's physical limit. We're all different,
we do different things, in different ways, in different places. But we are bound
by our charitable goals and a love of the Lakeland mountains.
So, if you're still reading this,
"Congratulations!" You're either our biggest fan, or more probably, you've got
bugger all else to do and "Corry" isn't on tonight. Stay tuned reader!