Charity 3 Peaks Challenge: Making Time

English Lakes Hotels Charity 3 Peaks Challenge

N10150118264585221_1605The third in a series of 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. Sponsor the team via the JustGiving Open Arms International page, with a JustGiving Primrose House Trust page soon to follow.

Saturday morning, 6.30am and the mobile phone laying on my bedside table,
literally inches from my ear, starts omitting an irritating tune. It's that
brief moment of confusion when your brain which has been rudely dragged away
from a scrummy dream about Ferrari's and Ferrero Rochers has
to make a quick decision – Is someone ringing me? Has there been a major family
crisis? Or have I forgot to cancel the alarm? But then once I've realised that
there's no such thing as a 4ft nut-covered chocolate and I own a Honda as
opposed to a Maranello masterpiece, the reality sinks in. I did set the alarm
for 6.30am!


"What in the name of all that's Holy were you
thinking Tim?"
(I apologise for the blasphemy, but I have conceded the
fact that I am slowly morphing in to Victor Meldrew. Well, a strange
cross between him and Basil Fawlty of course! )

Oh I remember
now! I have a busy day ahead, and just 5 hours earlier after finishing a glass
of wine and watching some DVD that I've probably watched far too many times
already, I decided that the only way to get a walk in this weekend was to get up
at the same time that the sparrow suffers its daily flatulence. I'm conscious
that's the second time I have made reference to gastric/gaseous movements in my
blogs, but hey, we're British! We love toilet humour! 30 carry-on films can't be
wrong! I still say that "Carry on F**ting" would have been Pinewood's
Studios most lucrative project, had it been made of course! The sight of Kenneth
Connor clenching his nostrils and stating that immortal line – "Ooooh
Matron, was that you?"
and Barbara Windsor wearing nothing but a bikini and
a World War 1 gas mask would surely have embedded itself in to Carry-on
folklore! Ok, I'm digressing!

The day could have been so much easier, but
as usual, I decided to make it difficult. In an annual tradition, I didn't post
my Mother's Day card on time, so that meant a minimum 100-mile round trip to
hand-deliver it. Well, I guess the latter "outcome" was the more
loving/family-friendly option, so don't give me grief for being dis-organised. I
could also have saved the walk until the Sunday, but on the basis that it was
the first round of this year's Formula 1 championship, and woe-betide I miss
that, it really wasn't an option. And then there was my commitment to help out a
friend in Manchester who is making his first movie and rather bravely, he'd cast
a part for me and planned to film my "VERY amateur debut" late
Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning. And then there was the haircut
appointment at 3pm! (Granted that wouldn't take long!). So, the only way to make
time for a walk in this hectic weekend schedule was to slot it in somewhere
first thing on Saturday.

So, had I posted the card, watched the Bahrain
GP highlights later on the iPlayer, and accepted another week of
minimal hair-growth, I could have spent a satisfying, lazy morning on the sofa
watching "Dave" (That's the TV channel, NOT my good friend from
Manchester by the way!) I'd quite happily watch those back to back Top
episodes and I could probably even tell you what strange but hilarious
anecdote will be used to introduce The Stig in that particular
episode before Clarkson get's to do his "thing". Most of you now will
be thinking "Sheesh Tim, Get A Life", but I'm betting that there's a small
handful of you out there who are reading this and saying to themselves – "I'm
glad I'm not the only one!" I digress! (Again!)

I have a new camera too, a digital SLR would you believe? (I think it
was "SLR", could have been JCB or GTL though. No, hang on, that was a model of
Renault wasn't it?) Anyway, I'm keen to try it out in the great outdoors. I
spent about half an hour the night before carefully unpacking it from its layers
of secure wrapping and then about 5 minutes reading the instruction booklet. 4
pages in to a 210 "introduction" book and I've lost the will to live. Surely
this isn't necessary and all I need to do to produce a David Bailey classic is
to simply aim and press one of these buttons? And there's so many buttons –
Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Aperture, Wash, Spin, Mix, Dry! There could be tears
and tantrums on the fells today!

My weekends used to start with a
cheese-drenched sausage sandwich with HP sauce, but that has since been replaced
with a fruit and nut muesli. Sure, it looks like the contents of your local
Spar's hoover bag, but its good for a slow release of energy through the
morning. So, it's a quick pack of the rucksack. The obligatory Prawn Sandwich on
Brown (well, I am a Manchester United fan after all), some Baxter's soup (go for
the butternut squash variety, it's delicious) and 2 bottles of lucozade sport in
the Camelbak – the definitive walking accessory by the way. And it's just
minimal clothing required this morning, as today's chosen peak (and the only one
I can possible cram in to a 3 hour window, including travelling time) is
Helm Crag
, Grasmere, or known more affectionately as the "Lion
and the Lamb".
At just 1329ft, this is a wonderful, easy-going fell. Yet it
was held in the highest affection by Wainwright himself, mainly because of the
spectacular topography and rock formations at its summit. This is definitely a
walk you can take the whole family, one for a late summer's afternoon, or in my
case, a deeply-satisfying early morning stretch of the legs. And with that
lunar-esque summit, a potentially great place for some piccies on the new
washing machine…..erm, I mean Camera!

IMG_0047I remember my first time up Helm Crag on a cold, autumnal afternoon
with waves of driving rain and sleet pounding my face. Back then it took me the
best part of an hour to reach the famous summit. This morning however, conscious
of my busy schedule, it takes me 28 minutes. Now, I'm not bragging here, and I
certainly don't ever want to be one of those people who make a big song and
dance about the fact they, for example "did Great Gable" in 70 minutes,
in blizzard conditions, with a sprained ankle, whilst carrying a 4-man tent, and
an 8lb baby on their back etc etc etc. You know the sort of person I'm talking
about here. If you've done something, they've done it quicker, bigger, more
expensive etc. There's a name for them I'm sure, but as this is a
family/eco/fox-friendly, non-bio blog I'll refrain from any further harsh

My point here is that with perseverance and regular exercise,
the difference in one's fitness can change dramatically. Don't get me wrong, I'm
not making myself out to be some kind of ultra-healthy freak here. I started
from a base level of fitness that could only be compared to a diabetic sloth,
with a thyroid problem. So, the only way was ever going to be up!

walk was as wonderful as ever, the clouds staying a couple of thousand feet
above the summits giving a me and the dozens of people already up here a crystal
clear panorama of central Lakeland. I'll not bore you with details of how the
photography project went. Needless to say, I think I need some personal tuition
and offers are most welcome. All other weekend objectives were met and I felt
content on Sunday night that I had made time. Time for my family, my friends,
for me, and more importantly for the 3-peaks challenge.

Speaking of
which, the first justgiving website for Open Arms International is up and
The second site for our second chosen charity is going to take a little while
longer as we have to go through a long, drawn-out paper trail to get
Primrose House registered with justgiving and giftaid. So,
please donate whatever you can, but do leave a little bit back for

Training is going well for all parties concerned. Sarah's
training last week however seems to have swamped any efforts put in by the
others in the group. She's also training for a 10k run coming up soon in East
Yorkshire and has regularly been doing 5k's in the gym with the treadmill on
"ascent". This week however she did the full 10k on ascent, but is now battling
with some shin splints which have re-emerged to frustrate her. She'll persevere
though and I'm sure she'll stroll through both challenges with the minimum of

I must take this opportunity though to thank some people. The
facebook group members for their support, of which there are now 125 of them.
English Lakes Hotels for donating the competition prize (details of which are on
the justgiving page) and for publishing the blogs on their own website, my
sister for giving me the belief that I can actually do
this challenge, and of course the fellow 3-peakers for all their hard work and
effort so far.

Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting and let's all make a
difference and raise money for our great charities Open Arms International
& The Primrose Trust.

Tim & The 3-peakers

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