Along with 39 other intrepid climbers ranging in age from 9 to 'slightly' more than four score and ten, we ventured to Britain’s wettest place at the weekend to take on the mighty Scafell Pike.
It was a weekend of records for the team because not only was our departure point at Seathwaite in Borrowdale-the rainiest place in the UK with almost 3m of the stuff every year, but the peak itself is England’s highest, rising to 978m above sea level. And, while this may not make the Guinness Book of World Records, it was also the largest ever Radnor House Sevenoaks climbing event after the inaugural ascent of Snowdon in 2018.
The party had a good mix of ages and abilities but what shone through was the determination on everyone’s part to make it to the top in style. Watching some of the younger hikers battle with cold and exhaustion on their way to the summit was inspiring and I certainly felt a number of the school values coming through in force as they pushed past their doubts to reach the top.
There is a lesson here which all of us can take away and it is this... if something looks like too big a challenge, the only way to succed is taking it one step at a time. Looking up from Seathwaite at the start of the walk, all one could see was a panorama of impossibly high peaks, mostly hidden by a blanket of intimidating mist and low cloud. The easy thing would have been to jump back in the minibus and head home claiming bad weather, poor kit or whatever other excuse our conscience could justify.
Instead, the hardest thing was to take that first step at the farm and then another and another. Before we knew it, we were level with some of those earlier peaks. By lunchtime, we were looking down on them like they were fallen victims of an unnamed war. We had achieved our objective and the sense of pride everyone felt was palpable. It’s these memories that build character and make the impossible simply difficult.
Next year we are off to Scotland for the last of the Three Peaks as we attempt Ben Nevis. However at 1,345m this is not simply another English hillock, this is a proper mountain (so said a passionate Scotsman!) We will need to start the preparations even earlier to achieve that difficult goal.