Ultimate Guide to the Three Peaks Challenge - BookitList

Ultimate Guide to the Three Peaks Challenge

What is the Three Peaks Challenge, and what does it involve?

The Three Peaks Challenge involves scaling the highest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland, within a 24 hour period.

It is the UK’s most iconic challenge, and one of the toughest, encompassing a total hiking distance of 23 miles (37km) and an ascent of 3064 metres (10,052ft), along with a driving distance of 462 miles (743.517km).

Officially, there is no specific order in which you must scale the peaks, but the majority of people begin in Scotland with Ben Nevis - the highest and most difficult to climb - then continue on to the Lake District, and Scafell Pike, before finishing in Wales with Mount Snowdon, the easiest of the three to scale. See our Guide to the 3 Peaks Challenge infographic here.

Ben Nevis

What is the success rate of the three peaks challenge?

With thousands of people attempting per year, many attempt to finish within 24 hours, and many just to complete them in any time, which is still a feat in itself.

While 90% of people complete the Three Peaks, only 40% manage it within 24 hours! So why is this?

Key reasons people fail within 24 hours that try it is:

  • Being Unprepared
  • Not knowing the mountains
  • Getting lost or stuck in traffic
  • Taking too long at the bottom of the mountains

So how can I increase me chances of finishing within 24 hours? We do believe that by being part of an organised group enables you to increase your chances. Bookitlist pride themselves on having over 85% of people who attempt with us, passing, which is a very high success rate.

Once you have booked your tour, you should prepare correctly following a training plan, to ensure you don't turn up unprepared.

Can I do the Three Peaks Challenge alone?

The challenge is extremely tough, and is definitely not something you should undertake alone.

There are two ways to do the challenge: through a professionally organised event, or a self organised group.

A professionally organised event is by far the easiest way to undertake the challenge, as all transport, guides, and (depending on the operator), meals are provided, allowing you to focus solely on the challenge itself.

Due to the tough nature of the challenge, should you be self organising, it is recommended that your group should include a minimum of 4 people.

Ben Nevis1

What transport should I use for the Three Peaks Challenge?

You can start the challenge at either Ben Nevis or Snowdon depending on your location.

Although you can access the peaks via public transport, due to times constraints, using a car is highly recommended.

Due to the small, country lanes leading to the peaks, if you are hiring a vehicle, a 16-seater minibus must be the maximum size.

It is recommended that you have two designated drivers both of whom should not be taking part in the hike. It is unsafe to drive if you are also attempting the challenge as it is extremely tiring.

Three peaks kit list

Three Peaks Challenge Kit list

In order to ensure you are prepared for the rugged, and diverse terrain, and the often changeable weather, the following kit is recommended. Please note, if you are taking part in an organised event, it is likely that much of this kit will be made mandatory.


  • Walking boots
  • Hiking socks (it is also recommended you bring a spare pair)
  • Wind and waterproof jacket
  • Walking trousers
  • Sports top (not cotton)
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (depending on the time of year and weather this may be a sun hat or wooly hat)
  • Thermals (weather dependant)

It is also recommended that you keep a change of clothes in your vehicle, as well as a light pair of shoes or sandals to change into between hikes.


  • Map (The OS Explorer Series are the best)
  • Compass
  • Emergency shelter
  • Mobile phone
  • Portable battery charger
  • First aid kit (& blister plasters)
  • Torch
  • Sun cream
  • Survival blanket
  • Sleeping bag & pillow (you will probably want to keep this in the car so you can sleep between hikes)

Food and Drink

  • Water - at least 4 litres per person (it is recommended that you leave the spare in the car rather than carry it all with you)
  • Food - Although you may want to stop to eat at service stations between trips, they tend to serve mainly junk food which isn’t the best fuel for such a grueling challenge. It is therefore recommended that you pre-plan your eating, and bring healthy, carbohydrate-heavy meals to eat between the hikes, as well as snacks to bring up the mountain with you. (fruit, nuts, energy/protein bars, are all good options).

What training do I need to do for the Three Peaks Challenge?

Even if you are a relatively fit person, it is recommended that you begin training for the challenge at least 3 months in advance, slowly increasing the intensity of your training as your fitness and strength increases. It is important that your training includes both cardio, and muscular endurance exercises.

For the first 2 months you should train 4 days per week, focusing on a different area each day, and including rest days in between.

For the week leading up to the challenge, you should scale back the training and have plenty of rest. Gentle hikes are recommended, but nothing strenuous.

How fit do you need to be to do the 3 peaks challenge?

The first and biggest mountain most people choose to climb, is Ben Nevis. This is 1,435 metres and is 17km up and down. To keep within the 24 hours limits you need to be able to complete this under 4 and a half hours. To be able to do this you need to practice walking on inclines and walking for long distances.

If you are consistently able to walk over 10 miles with elevation above 10% average, and train for at least a three month period, you should be fit enough to complete the challenge.

You need to ensure that your pace on the flat is above 5km per hour, allowing for reduced pace on increased elevation.

What do I get for completing the challenge?

There is no official certificate for completing the challenge, but for privately organised events, many of the operators will provide participants with a certificate, or photo upon completion.


Feeling Inspired?

Bookitlist provides a 3 Peaks Tour package, where your transport, food, expert guides and more are all taken care of. Doing this as a group tour with Bookitlist, means you're able to tick off your 3 Peaks Challenge, with a group of like minded individuals.

Looking for an alternative?

Alternatively if you're looking to stretch your legs somewhere a little further afield, we've comprised a list of some of the most epic fitness adventures in the world. From the Machu Picchu to Africa's most revered peak. Discover your next great adventure here.