Jon Hurley is a longstanding supporter of Cecily's Fund. He knew Cecily when he too was in Zambia in 1997. Today, he works at the Cardiff office of the professional services firm WYG. Over three days at the end of June, Jon and his colleagues tackled Wales' 3 Peaks Challenge, raising money for Cecily's Fund as part of WYG's "High 5" fundraising scheme. The challenge has raised over £600.
After a few well-earned beers on a Friday night in January, I mentioned that I heard of some people who climbed the Welsh 3 Peaks – Snowdon, Cader Idris and Pen Y Fan – over a couple of days, but also cycled between them. After a couple more drinks the plan was hatched.
We travelled to Bangor on Thursday 30 June by train, with a support van which brought all the bikes, equipment, energy drinks and crate loads of lycra. After a couple of beers on the train (you may have noticed a common theme here!) some bright spark came up with the idea of cycling from the train station in Bangor to Llanberis, where we were staying.
As I pointed out, technically the challenge was to climb the 3 Welsh Peaks, and cycle between them, so any cycling before or after a mountain was outside of the challenge! This was laughed down so after the train pulled into the station at 10pm, and we had waited 10 minutes for the van to turn up off we set.
The following morning the rain and wind which Wales is famous for greeted us as we stepped outside. The cycle from Llanberis to Snowdon was pretty tough in the conditions and this was much the same for the walk up the mountain. After a quick coffee and pasty in the café on the top where the views were non-existent we headed back down. We then had a great descent into Porthmadog where we stopped for a mid-afternoon tea and sandwich. It was then onwards past Harlech Castle and we finally made it to Dolgellau at around 6.
Left: at the summit of Cader Idris. Right: Harlech Castle.
The sun was out on the Saturday and we could not have asked for better conditions as we walked up Cader Idris. This was the hardest mountain of the 3 but in terms views it was absolutely stunning. We even managed to catch the last 5 minutes of the British and Irish Lions second rugby test against New Zealand and it was great to hear them win.
Morale was high as we came off the mountain – however we bumped into a couple of lycra clad fitness fanatics who happened to be doing what we were taking 3 days to do in only 24 hours! With a strong headwind against us we then cycled off to Machynlleth for some much needed supplies before the long and extremely steep climb to Staylittle. It was then a shortish ride to the Elan Vale for the night. We managed to find a local hotel for a great meal, but we were so tired and hungry that we ate on the way to the accommodation – we weren’t too sure what the locals made of 12 sweaty middle aged men sat in lycra eating a 3 course meal!
For the last day of the trip, after some overnight rain, the sun was out again. We made good progress to Builth Wells and got to Brecon for lunch time. Alter a quick sandwich looking over the local canal we tackled the last big climb to the foot of Pen y Fan. Steeling ourselves with a 99 ice cream, the walk up and down Pen y Fan took only one and a half hours. For some of us the trip was now over and we drove back to Cardiff, however the real hard men in the group they decided to tackle the extra 40 miles back home.
Thank you so much to Jon and his team for taking on this fantastic challenge! If you'd like to donate, the team's fundraising page is still open. We're always looking for supporters to fundraise for us and we have places available in the 2017 Swim Serpentine. Interested? Contact us!