Yorkshire Three Peaks

As a sibling, you live with the notion that you'd move mountains for your brother or sister. Due to tragic circumstances, and the impossible nature of a metaphor - I decided to walk them instead. 

I think everyone who has taken part in climbing the Yorkshire Three Peaks will admit that it is most certainly a challenge - and, if not, you must be some sort of superhero. Not only was the 12 hour trek a difficulty in itself, but waking up at 5am was the icing on an already monstrous cake.

5am, the time my sister (Alice) and I are usually returning home from a night on the town, yet this Saturday morning we were awakening in our bunk beds to the harsh shrill of the alarm clock. Whilst I had anticipated that I would be tired and delirious, and - to put it politely - a little on the moody side, this was certainly not the case as I awoke full of nervous energy and excitement for the challenge that lay before us.

My mother, the most organised and excitable person I know, had arranged for us all to wear matching t-shirts and bandanas sporting the Brain Tumour Charity logo. Our team of ten (fabulous) women arrived at the foot of the mountain looking like a rather large girl band - except none of us could sing or dance (especially by the end of the 12 hours!).

I wish I could sit here and write that it started off gently, easing us into the first mountain - yet that was hardly the case. From the get go we were ascending uphill which was made rather difficult due to two key factors - the first one being how early it was in the morning (I can assure you that I don't usually start my day by plummeting up mountains), and the second (and most important) factor being my giddy mother shouting (and expecting a) 'GROUP PHOTO' every five minutes. Or so it seemed, I have been told that I do sometimes have the tendency to exaggerate every so slightly ...

When we arrived at the top of the first mountain, I think I can speak for us all when I say we were thanking our lucky stars that we were still alive. I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure it was at the point where we were having to scramble up rocks bigger than ourselves to reach the top of Pen-y-ghent when I realised that perhaps this was going to be a bit more than 'walking up and down a couple of hills'.

The first peak was out of the way, and we were all on a high - with adrenaline cursing through our bodies, we were ready to take on the next. We plodded along, and along - oh, and along! - for what seemed like days, months, years. I was starting to become convinced that I would be finishing this walk sporting grey hair and a walking stick (the latter wasn't too far wrong) - it genuinely seemed like an eternity had passed before we reached the base of Whernside.

When walking, especially uphill, I have the tendency to speed on ahead - wanting to reach the top as quickly as possible, without having time to think about the aching muscles in my legs, or the blisters on my feet. Upon reaching the top of Whernside, I was ready for a sit down - which, due to the steepest plummet downhill I have ever encountered in my life, happened upon descending the mountain.

Much to my mother's concern, which - worryingly - was only directed towards the new jacket I'd purchased especially for the occasion, I managed to survive falling over and sliding down the mountain without breaking any bones, suffering any major injuries or - more importantly - ripping my jacket.

After we all made it to the bottom safe and alive, we began our journey towards Ingleborough. I know I'm right in saying that we were all beginning to have had enough by now. I think we were all expecting to saunter through this challenge laughing and chatting away - which, of course, we did - but there came a point when even Lindsey Upton stopped talking, and that's when I began to worry.

I kept mind setting that there was just one more mountain to go, and then I'd finally have accomplished a challenge that I was so desperate to achieve. It was at this point where I began to summon strength from different places and my mind began to wander to the strongest sense of courage and determination I have ever witnessed - that of my brother, Luke.

I don't want to make this post sad and heart wrenching, because the experience of the Yorkshire Three Peaks was anything but that, yet I can't ignore the reason why I, and the nine other remarkable women I was walking alongside, were putting ourselves through this strenuous task.

Luke was, and will always continue to be, the strongest person I have ever met. The things he was exposed to, and experienced, from such a young age were horrifying - and things that no one should ever have to go through, especially not at fifteen years old. No matter how tough it got, Luke would always fight it with a smile on his face - and in times when I need it most, I think about this and take both strength and inspiration from it.

Despite it being the most horrific couple of years, I know that I have changed in many positive ways. I look at things differently to how I know I would've if none of this had happened, and everything is met with a perspective that an abundance of people are so lucky not to have. In times where I am struggling, I look at the wider picture and almost laugh at myself for how ridiculous I am being - a couple of blisters and muscle pain doesn't even come close to what my beautiful brother went through, and during the walk I kept reminding myself of this. My ultimate goal in life is to make Luke proud, and I truly felt like I was doing that - which spurred me on even more.

With this in mind, I hurtled towards Ingleborough - yet we all stopped in our tracks when we saw what lay before us. Again, like my brother, my sister Alice is of the strong and determined kind - but even she faltered a little upon seeing the steepness of rocks we needed to clamber up in order to reach the top of the third, and final, peak.

Clutching jelly babies in our hands, and determination cursing through our veins, we all began to clamber up the rocks. Grown men were struggling, particularly the ones who had thought they were invincible and chugged countless pints the night before, yet we all managed to succeed in reaching the top.

Powered by adrenaline and sheer delight, I turned around to everyone and (rather smugly) stated that I was having a great time and would definitely do this again. It was typical that I didn't think before I spoke, and it definitely came to bite me in the buttocks later on.

What I had failed to realise was that after reaching the summit, there was a long journey to the finish line. As each step became more and more painful, I began to realise just how tired I truly was. Climbing three mountains isn't something that I am used to, especially not in the space of 12 hours. The journey to the end seemed like it was never ending, and I hold my hands up and admit that I limped and hobbled my way to the finish line - something which I know Luke would've been laughing at from above.

The relief upon finishing was a feeling which I am yet to put into words, but as I looked round at the exhausted but proud faces of our amazing 'Yorkie Three Peak' team, I was met with an overwhelming sense of happiness. We had done it! Despite the blisters which were the size of babies heads, the numb feeling in our legs and the sheer and painful exhaustion, we had set our minds to the challenge - and we had completed it!

I will always look back on that weekend with fondness and happiness, knowing that I have achieved something because I truly set my mind to it. However, I not only owe that to the 'mind over matter' eros, but also to the support from the people walking alongside me. My mum (Lynne), Alice and our friends Ellie, Anna, Clare, Amanda, Lindsey, Frances and Sally are all the most upbeat and encouraging people - who we know we are so lucky to be surrounded by, and who we couldn't have done this without.

Despite their own hardships, they have continued to support us - not only on this trek, but also throughout the past couple of years.

Among us all, we managed to hit our target of raising £2,500 for the Brain Tumour Charity - and I can't even begin to thank the lovely people who donated enough. Knowing that I have done something in order to raise money to fund critical research into a disease which is so horrendous, is an absolute honour - and whilst at the time I swore I'd never do anything like this again, I know I'd do it 1,000 times over if it meant both raising money, and also honouring my beautiful brother Luke.

Now, here's to the next challenge!

Thank you so much for reading.

Grace x 


  1. Excellent blog Grace! It certainly was a tough challenge.

  2. Luke would be so proud, Grace! Amazing feat! X

  3. I admire your courage. God bless x


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