FKT: Tim Viner, Steve Dawling - Welsh Three Peaks Challenge - 2023-08-24

Route variation
Entire route
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Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 23h 17m 12s

At 11:14hrs on Tuesday the 22nd August 2023 we set off on foot from Llanberis in the Eryri National Park heading for our final destination of Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. We started up the main Llanberis path to summit number 1 (Yr Wyddfa 1085 m). We then continued down the far side making use of the Watkin Path to Nantgwynant, once there we were supported by our crew where we swapped our mountain bags for road kit and they gave us food and fluids before we continued on. We then skirted the edge of Llyn Dinas into the village of Beddgelert on to Nantmor, Bwlchgwernog, Croesor to Llyn Mair where we were again supported by our crew with yet more food and fluids. Continuing on we travelled through Tan-y-Bwlch, Maentwrog, past Llyn Trawsfynydd to the village of Trawsfynydd where we were again supported with food and fluids. Following this we proceeded still on foot over the top of Coed-y-Brenin forest down to Ganllwyd where yet again we met our support crew for yep you guessed it more food and fluids. At this point we were 9 hours in to the challenge.

From Ganllwyd we continued out into the darkness headed through the town of Dolgellau and up to the bottom of the pony path, here we met our support crew for a quick kit change and collection of our mountain bags. Heading up the Pony Path all started well and the weather seemed fair until we reached the gate where you turn left for the summit... Once there the weather had taken a serious change and we could now only see a few feet in front of us even with head torches. Navigation was challenging as a result but after 13 and a half hours we reached the summit of mountain number 2 (Cadair Idris 893 m). We then continued through the poor visibility making our way down to the Minffordd carpark where we again met our support crew. Once again we changed to road kit ate some food and headed out towards Machynlleth via Corris, Esgairgeiliog and Pantperthog. We continued out of Machynlleth on the Forge road where we again met our support crew, at this point we had been on the move for over 18 hours so made the decision to have an hours sleep as well as grabbing some food and fluids.

At around 07:30hrs on Wednesday the 23rd August 2023 the sun was up again and we continued on our journey initially hitting the roads to Aberhosan followed by a large section of trail over some beautiful mountain regions which should have offered some incredible views across to Cadair Idris. Unfortunately the weather was against us again here. We then jumped back on to roads and made our way down to Staylittle at the tip of Llyn Clywedog. We again met our crew here for food and fluids. After this stop it was a large road section down to Llanidloes during which there were stunning views of llyn Clywedog from up high and we crossed the Bwlch y Gle damn which appeared to be an extremely popular tourist spot. We again met with our crew in Llanidloes for more food and fluids.

Leaving Llanidloes we quickly realised that our proposed route was too dangerous as it was suggesting the A470, a quick look at the map and we found an alternative via footpaths across farmer's fields, (these were in less than ideal condition with styles hidden within over grown hedges and gates locked). Eventually we made it to Llangurig where our crew were waiting with fresh fluids and yet more food. By now we had been on the move for over 28 hours with only 1 hours sleep but we still felt good so pushed on, we did however decide to reduce the distance between crew stops so we could always get hold of more food and fluids.

Pushing on for another hour and a bit on roads we again met our crew around 5 miles after we had left them, more food plenty of fluids and a couple of massages later and we were going again. This time for another mix of road and trail down to Llansantffraed-Cwmdeuddwr, it was at this point Steve realised that one of his pole tips had broken off. With a little bodging and a lot of tape we were soon back on our way having eaten and drank plenty again. We were again on our way initially on the Rhayader Nature Reserve trail and then back on tarmac for a long stretch to a little village called Llanwrthwl where the support crew were waiting with big bowls of carbonara and our night kit as the darkness was setting in. From there we started back on road and were setting a steady pace with Steve's broken pole making a real racket each time he took a step. The road soon turned to footpaths and unfortunately they were long grass which as a result of the night dew were very wet, this resulted in wet feet and sore toes for us both.

We arrived into NewBridge on Wye to find the support ready for us with dry socks and shoes and yep more food and fluids. By this time it was very dark and there were very few people around. We headed out on the A470 down towards Builth Wells, whilst travelling along we were both suddenly aware of a person in a yellow jacket ahead. We were both astounded to discover it was another friend of ours who had decided to head out and offer some support. He walked with us for a few hundred meters then we had a photo and said our goodbyes. We pushed on down in to the town where the crew were again ready for us with a quick food and fluid refill before we were off into a long stretch.

We knew what lay ahead was going to be a tough section but were soon confronted by 25% gradients which seemed to go on forever, by now we had been moving for some 36 hours with only 1 hours sleep. Despite this we were both determined to push through the tough night section in the knowledge the sunrise would fuel us to the finish. On the top of the mountains at Cwm Owen we again met our crew. By this point they also had only had very limited sleep and were still doing their very best to get us sorted to move on. Following this stop we both found getting going again extremely hard so decided any further stops would be limited to prevent us seizing up. We pushed on down the B4520 through Upper Chapel, Capel Dyffryn Honddu, Castle Madoc and Lower Chapel. During this time Steve's second pole tip broke so we now had surround pole sound and we both started to hallucinate seeing pizza boxes in the road, Santas sleigh and witches in the hedge rows. The village of Pwllgloyw was where we met the crew again for our penultimate stop. This was as planned extremely brief and we were moving again within minutes down towards Brecon. passing through the villages of Llandefaelog Fach and Glan Honddu we were running again and could smell that the finish was within touching distance. The sun began to rise and we were both enthused by the finish was now so close. In Brecon town there were people milling around but we were again struggling so it was back to walking/shuffling. 

Our final support point was on the Ffrwdgrech road out of the town setting us up for our accent of the North face of Pen y Fan, a quick kit change and the obvious feed and fluid intake and we were off again. As before we were slow getting moving again but we knew it was nearly done so pushed through any pain we had. Moving through CWMGWDI we were soon on the path headed up and man did it seem to keep on going up. I have summited Pen Y Fan a number of times but never has it been this tough. We eventually reached the trig point (Pen Y Fan 886 m) at 09:12hrs on Thursday the 24th August 2023 in a time of 43 hours 56 mins and 44 seconds.

Now came the task of getting back down the mountain, we chose to finish the route by the Storey Arms on the A470. The journey down was very steady stopping to talk to many hikers letting people know what we had been up to allowing ourselves time to rest at every opportunity. Watches were stopped after 47 hours 17 mins.

As you will see one watch was stopped following the sleep where as the other remained running through out. The times still align when compared.