As part of Lovell Johns training for the Three Peaks Challenge in September, we have all been exercising and have a training schedule which involves reminding us all how many weeks we have to go until the event, in order to spur us on! A group of us decided to walk in the Malvern Hills, which are the closest hills to us in the Cotswolds. Six of us set out on a damp morning to West Malvern. The car park is already relatively high up, but the path rises steeply up to the top of the hills, from where there is apparently a fantastic view towards Wales. However, this was not to be for our group, as the cloud was very low and visibility was limited. The Malverns are a long ridge, some eight miles in length, which stand out above the surrounding countryside. However, on this particular day, the 13 counties that can be viewed in clear weather were not to be seen.
This proved to be a good test for the Three Peaks Challenge, as we almost immediately decided to start heading in the wrong way. Luckily, our map reading and compass skills are well enough developed that we managed to correct our route and headed south along the path. About three miles in, we made a brief detour to stop for refreshment (and to dry out a little) in Upper Wyche. After many cups of tea and the odd cake, we set off south again. Two of our group (no names!) managed to become separated from the main pack, and it was surprising how quickly you can lose sight of your walking companions, particularly if there are a lot of other walkers. Our excuse was that everyone looks the same in their waterproofs! This is all valuable information for when we take on the Challenge in September.
Once reunited (in the pub!) we took on valuable nutrition and liquids, although probably not the right sort of liquids. We have all been made aware of how important it is to keep topped up with high energy foods and to drink plenty of water, particularly in warm weather, which although not an issue on this particular day, is still very important advice to abide by. By the time we left the pub, the cloud had lifted and we could actually see the landscape below. We then returned to the cars, where we all tried to dry off before setting off for home.
We walked a total of 10 miles in 4 3/4 hours and climbed a total of 2602 ft. No-one was lost, only one slight casualty resulting in a sore coccyx, so on the whole, a successful training day.
Although not as enjoyable as a sunny walk, this was good training for the Three Peaks Challenge, as it showed us how easy it is to head off in the wrong direction in bad conditions, how important it is to keep sight of your group, and that nutrition and hydration are key to a successful walk. It has made some of us more confident about the Challenge, some of us less so, but was certainly worthwhile.