English Lakes Hotels Charity 3 Peaks Challenge
The fourth 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.
It's a lovely day outside today. The
daffodils have finally shown their face, the sun is shining, and there
are rather too many people out there showing their mid-riffs who really
shouldn't be, if you know what I mean! Actually, fair play to them, why
shouldn't they? We're emerging from one of the longest winters in recent
history so I say let them hang their pierced pot-bellies out. Show the
world that you like one too many chippy teas a week. I might even join
them! But on the basis that its still only 9 degrees, I think I'll keep
my stomach well and truly hidden, and tucked up nice and warm for the
time being. Besides, there's no six-pack there I can tell you. More like
a keg of smooth to be honest.
I will say though
that this walking malarkey is causing the pounds to drop off. However,
just not in the right places I would have ideally liked (had I been
given the choice, or got all "Pally" with a plastic surgeon). My legs
have always been top of the list to go in to a "Room 101
for unwanted limbs". They've never carried too much weight, be it
muscle or fat, and now that the latter form of tissue has now completely
disappeared from my lower torso, my legs look like they belong to an
anorexic turkey, after a knee-op! And as for trying to get a suntan on
them – forget it! My upper-body can burn like a cheap sofa at a
pyromaniac's convention. But I can drench my legs in Olive oil, Carrot
Oil, even Crude Oil, and they still resemble one of those colours on
your Dulux paint chart which is neither White nor Magnolia. (I think the
current trendy name for it is "Frosted Dawn" if you were interested in
decorating sometime later this month, which I should, but I've kinda got
too much on my plate at the moment)
I find myself in the familiar and frustrating (to you) territory of
waffling again, and about a subject that none of you probably want to
hear about or visualise come to think if it, so let's get back on the
straight and narrow shall we?
sudden but very welcome change in the climate has brought about a new
vigour to the training effort. In the last 6 days I have completed 4
walks and been to the gym twice! Had you said that to me 12 months ago I
would have probably stared at you for a while and then asked you what
kind of medication you were taking, but a lot can happen in a year it
seems. My life has changed beyond recognition. My outlook on everything
is different, more positive, less selfish, and I owe most of it to the
hypnotic powers of those mountains. It's been a gradual change sure, but
the contrasts one can draw by comparing T.Bell circa 2009 to the
revised, updated and reduced-emissions model of 2010 are startling! A
bit like Nick Clegg really, only with slightly less hair.
no doubt the long, harsh winter has been good for training. Thick snow
and often treacherous conditions have made the walks more gruelling and
challenging, and in a strange way – rather a lot of fun! But with the
short days and the sheer effort required for plodding up Helvellyn in
sub-zero temperatures through 2 feet of snow, one walk a week was as
good as it got. The changing of the clocks and the season has catapulted
the enthusiasm in to a whole new ball park and opened up many more
windows of opportunity.
Last week for instance, I had the pleasure of
entertaining my good friend Niall whom I had not seen in nearly 6 years.
So, I took 2 days of annual leave and on one of them I dragged him up
Haystacks near Buttermere. Actually, as it transpired he was the one
dragging me up as the shear fitness and stride length of this 6'4"
monster of a Scotsman soon put any good work I had done to shame. It was
only at 1500ft (the point that I'm normally doing my best Darth
Vader with Bronchitis impersonation) that he confessed that one of
his nicknames during his youth was "Mountain Goat". The sneaky bugger
that he is! Good walk though nevertheless.
planned walk wasn't until the Sunday, however a very good friend and
colleague of mine who shall remain nameless (although her name starts
with a "D" and ends in "…eana Chesterton") had been
making rumblings about my obsession, and was keen to see what all the
fuss was about in "them fells". So, to satisfy her curiosity I took her
on Saturday morning to my favourite short leg-stretcher, Helm Crag.
She huffed, puffed but persevered through the initial cardio and
physical shocks (see blog 2 for further details of expected symptoms)
and once perched on the summit outcrop she had her "Epiphany".
24 hours later, and now armed with new boots, socks and breathable
walking attire, she was accompanying my sister and myself up 2800ft of Blencathra's
slopes, bouncing around like a spring lamb wired up to the mains.
Another one converted then!
48 hours after that, and having
spent a day in the Lakes on a training course, the pleasant evening
weather drew myself, Vanessa and the afore-mentioned nameless colleague
back up Helm Crag in an attempt to smash the previous set times
for this particular ascent. Needless to say, they did it and what a
wonderful feeling it was to be sat on the Lion and the Lamb
feeling the last warm rays of the sun on our faces before it sunk
gracefully behind the Langdale Pikes for another day.
the fells are taking over all my spare time at the moment, but the
addiction has gone so much further than just causing my television to
gather dust. It's taken over my house!
My wardrobes and
cupboards are now like the "rejects" store room of a Millets
shop. Thick fleeces, thin fleeces, very thin fleeces, summer socks,
winter socks, waterproof socks, winter gloves, summer gloves, breathable
t-shirts – short-sleeved, long sleeved, zip-collar, no-collar, red,
blue, black, green and orange! Walking boots, all over the house and
woe-betide you walk in to them when your barefooted and heading to the
loo with your eyes closed at 4am.
Today, 4 of the 5
walkers have been strolling around on the Helvellyn range. (We're down
by one unfortunately folks, due to Hannah's work commitments which have
prevented her from coming on the training walks, but she's still coming
along to help with the driving. Bless you Hannah!)
Wythburn ascent of this notorious mountain is a calf-cruncher, but a
safe one. Most people however opt for the Striding/Swirral Edge ascent
to the top. But we're trying our best to avoid any unnecessary dangers
in our training regime. Helvellyn has claimed many lives over the years,
and we're not about to add any more to it in the name of adrenaline.
The last 3 attempts of Helvellyn have been
slightly frustrating affairs, mainly on the account that this
magnificent summit chose to stay hidden in thick clouds and snow, and
she stubbornly refused to give even the slightest, teasing glimpse of
those white-knuckle/brown-trouser edges. Today however, the big man
upstairs kept his Cumulonimbus collection well above the peaks so we
were rewarded with a 360 degree panorama that made me speechless (yep,
it is possible folks). And with the top reached with relative (and
surprising) ease, we opted to head south down the ridge and take in 3
more summits as opposed to a quick descent back to the car park. Do
remember to have the Ordnance Survey handy though if you're gonna go and
do a bit of ridge-rambling. One slight mis-judgement with the internal
compass, and one could find oneself miles off course. Been there, done
that, got the blisters!
So, it's less than 6 weeks to go now!
It's time to wake up and smell the gore-tex! Although, (and I think I
can speak on behalf of the whole group here) I think we're ready now!
We've got the drivers, we've got the equipment, we've got the fitness,
we've even got the post-walk BBQ menu sorted down to the final detail,
including which champagne will used to wash down the celebratory
sausages at Snowdon's base. It starting to feel quite real now, and I
The justgiving page for Open Arms International
has been updated with some more pictures and details of this fantastic
charity, so please pop by and do remember to drop a few quid in won't
you? Remember, every minimum £5 donation allows you to guess the time we
actually take to complete the challenge, and the winner gets a luxury
night stay in a Lake District Hotel with dinner thrown in for good
measure. Once again, many thanks to English Lakes Hotels
for their kind support, especially as they are lending us the company
minibus for the whole trip!
Frustratingly, we're in a long,
drawn-out paper trail with the second sight for Primrose House, but
we're hoping to have it up and running before the challenge begins, so
hold a few quid back for this one won't you?
for a bath now, I smell!