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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Actuaries conquer the Three Peaks

The Three Peaks Challenge is finally over for four actuaries: Chris Swain, John Ross and myself, Keith Miller, ably supported by Jerry Marshall — and the good news is we all survived intact. The slightly annoying news is that we just missed the 24-hour target by 45 minutes.

We set off up Snowdon at 9.30am on Saturday 2 July in glorious sunshine, negotiating our way up the Pyg Track and through the bustling crowds, all the while admiring the variety of fancy dress costumes: a dozen ‘ladies’ from Little Britain in drag, two Thunderbirds pilots — possibly Alan and Virgil — Batman, Sleeping Beauty and Scooby Doo. For those of you who have never been, the walk is enjoyable but the scenery is spectacular. The steam train arrived just as we reached the summit.

Jerry, our support team, was waiting for us when we came down in just under the planned four hours, with our food ready while he drove onwards. Four and a half hours later, we arrived at Scafell Pike. 
It was still baking hot when we set off, but fortunately it had cooled down and we polished off the climb and descent in the projected four hours. We met quite a lot of other Three Peaks Challenge groups on the hill — most of them were part of large, organised groups and were doing the challenge in the slightly easier north-to-south downhill route.

Again Jerry was waiting for us, this time with pizzas warming under the bonnet of the car. Five hours later, which included several catnaps, we got to Glen Nevis. 
The M74 was incredibly quiet and Jerry was happy to set cruise control at Carlisle until we passed through Glasgow.

Getting started on Ben Nevis at 3am was a struggle in the dark with low energy levels, and we also had some initial difficulty in finding the correct path to start. The walk up was magical as the sun gradually rose over the mountains. Unfortunately, our schedule started to slip and clouds overtook us, as our day began to take a turn for the worse. Still, it was an experience crossing a small snowfield at 6.30am and arriving at the summit at 7am. We had met a couple on Scafell Pike who were on exactly the same itinerary as us and we met up again on top of Ben Nevis, holding them to their promise of a swig from their hip flask. The walk down seemed very long, as the sun had stayed out on the lower slopes and the crowds had started to stream up the hill, so we knew by this time that 24 hours was out of reach.

We finally completed the walk and I’m certainly glad I did it. Would I do it again? Not for the sake of 45 minutes. I would recommend it to others, though.

What about fundraising, I hear you ask? Well, between the three of us, we have raised over £3,000 so far, courtesy of your generosity. Thank you all for your support. If anyone had intended to sponsor us but hadn’t had the opportunity, please visit 

By Keith Miller