Timing of the National Three Peaks Challenge

Timing on the day

Your challenge time should be recorded from the base of your first mountain, to the base of your third mountain - i.e., the total time should include ascending and descending each of the three mountains.

Typically, you should allow the following times for each mountain:

  • Five hours for Ben Nevis
  • Four hours for Scafell Pike, from Wasdale Head.
  • Four hours for Snowdon

These times are steady - for example, Snowdon would be completed comfortably by most people in five hours. A good pace is needed, without wearing out too early. The best way of testing if you and your team are able is doing a bit of practice on whichever mountain is closest to you.

Add to those estimates approximately eleven hours driving - any faster and you would be breaking speed limits and making the climbing too easy, which isn't the idea of the Challenge.

Several timings options are available, depending on your arrival time into Fort William.

Option One - Walk in daylight

As long as your challenge team has a dedicated driver, this is probably the best time plan. Ben Nevis is climbed in the evening, then all walkers can have a six hour sleep while being driven to Scafell Pike. This also maximises walking hours in daylight, so navigation should be as easy as it gets.

5pm Start Ben Nevis.
10pm Finish Ben Nevis and start drive to Scafell Pike (six hour drive).
4am Arrive and start climbing Scafell Pike (Wasdale Head)
8am Finish Scafell Pike and start drive to Snowdon (five hour drive).
1pm Arrive and start climbing Snowdon
5pm Finish Snowdon, and complete challenge.

Option Two - Avoid Traffic

In order to avoid traffic, the common pitfall of the Three Peaks Challenge, it is sensible to begin at midday, finishing Ben Nevis by around 5pm, allowing for a late evening drive to Wasdale Head to climb Scafell Pike. Scafell Pike is then climbed in the dark, followed by Snowdon in the morning.

12pm Start Ben Nevis.
5pm Finish Ben Nevis and start drive to Scafell Pike (six hour drive).
11pm Arrive and start climbing Scafell Pike (Wasdale Head)
3am Finish Scafell Pike and start drive to Snowdon (five hour drive).
8am Arrive and start climbing Snowdon
12pm Finish Snowdon, and complete challenge.

Option Three - Long Day

This option allows both Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike to be climbed in daylight, leaving an easy Snowdon path to be climbed at night.

6am Start Ben Nevis.
11am Finish Ben Nevis and start drive to Scafell Pike (six hour drive).
5pm Arrive and start climbing Scafell Pike (Wasdale Head)
9pm Finish Scafell Pike and start drive to Snowdon (five hour drive).
2am Arrive and start climbing Snowdon
6am Finish Snowdon, and complete challenge.

Annual timing

We recommend organising Three Peaks Challenges between June and October. Weekends are most popular, which can create an excellent atmosphere. If you'd rather avoid the crowds though, it'll be much easier to park during the week.

Three Peaks in Three Days

If you are less keen on rushing through the challenge, the Three Peaks is often completed over three days. Completing the Three Peaks over three days will also give you added time to enjoy the local culture and support local businesses.