When Phil Bevan first suggested the Three Lakes Challenge to the Shropshire Paddlesport Club it seemed like a good idea. But, having talked it through, they decided they wanted to further challenge themselves, to not only complete the Three Lakes but also the Three Peaks Challenge in the same week!
Phil had read about the Three Lakes Challenge in Canoe Focus magazine and, wanting a new adventure with his friends at the club, decided it was ideal. A team of five was to complete all three lakes and all three peaks; Caroline, Phil and Tim Bevan and Sian and Bill Norris. But others from the club came along to do one or more legs also. All in all it was a fantastic team effort with some great endurance and planning.
The team started on the 14th August 2015 by driving to Wasdale Head campsite. The following morning they completed an eventful climb of Scarfell Pike. Not only did they have to cope with an ankle injury in the group but they also came across a 70 year old man who had fallen and cut his face. Having administered first aid to both injuries and walked the man off the mountain the mountain took a, longer than expected, 8.5hrs to complete.
On August 16th the team paddled Lake Windermere, which they described as a pleasant paddle in fine weather, before driving up to the Glen Nevis Campsite in Fort William. A slightly less eventful climb of Ben Nevis ensued the following day, although the snowball fight at the top sounded fun!
The team showed good planning the next day (August 18th) by driving up to Torran Bay and then dropping cars at the opposite end of Loch Awe, ready for their paddle the day after. The paddlers stayed at Torran Bay Hostel overnight before commencing the second lake of their challenge.
Loch Awe proved to be an altogether tougher experience than Windermere. Starting in the fog at 7.30am the wind then changed from lightly against them to strongly behind them. However the helping push of the wind also brought with it persistent rain which stayed with them from 2pm onwards. The 25 miles of Loch Awe are never to be underestimated but the team finished the lake in a respectable 10 hours.
The 20th August saw a 400 mile drive from Torran Bay to Dolgam Campsite in Capel Curig, where the team rested up ready for their ascent of Snowden. Snowden was not too kind to them and they summited in torrential rain to find that the summit station was closed due to high winds.
It must have been a tired team who emerged from their tents on the final day, 22nd August, to head to Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala) for the last lake of the challenge. Luckily they found the seven miles of Tegid a pleasant paddle and it must have been with great jubilation that they came back to shore! The team completed all three lakes in open canoes and their top tips are to take a good camera and make sure you arrive the day before your paddle at Loch Awe so you have time to position your cars.
What an achievement...42.6 miles paddled, 10,293 feet climbed, 26.42 miles walked and 1181 miles driven...all in just a week!
Well done Shropshire Paddlesport and good luck with next year’s planned Scottish Coast 2 Coast.