Four bold Colne mountaineers are gearing up for the challenge of a lifetime as they aim to conquer both the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the National Three Peaks in a single, 40-hour hike.
Quite literally scaling new heights, the intrepid quartet of Danny Steer, Shaun Ruddy, Scott Ruddy, and John Whittaker wanted to come up with a new, more extreme challenge to raise funds for Pendleside Hospice and The Friends of Favourdale, who raise money for the residents of Favordale Care Home on Byron Road in the town.
And having already tackled the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the group decided to go even bigger, incorporating the three highest peaks in the UK to make a truly joint-busting mammoth of a hike that will see them scale a combined height of 5,560m - the equivalent of climbing the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, on top of Mont Blanc.
Inspired by their personal ties to their chosen charities - John's father, John Snr, was due to receive treatment at Pendleside prior to his death last year, while Scott, Shaun, and Danny's mother, Diane Grey, was to start working at Friends of Favourdale before she too died in 2017 - the hikers wanted to do something groundbreaking.
"We've done the Yorkshire Three Peaks before, and because our mum and John's dad died we thought we'd try and make it as hard as we could and make it a big one," explained Scott. "I've never heard of anybody doing both challenges at the same time.
"We've been training as much as we can to make sure we can make it round," he added. "We've been walking 30 miles a week for the last 10 weeks: we've gone up Pendle Hill, up in the Yorkshire Dales, up to the Lake District. We've varied it to make sure it doesn't get monotonous."
Commencing their Odyssean trek on April 28th, the four former Colne Park High students will be scaling Ben Nevis in the Grampian Mountains first, before heading south to the Lake District to take on Scafell Pike, before donning their head-torches and going to Wales for the small matter of climbing Snowdon in the dark. With the UK's three highest peaks conquered, they will then head to Yorkshire, where they will have around 10 hours to clamber up Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, and Whernside.
"It's the mental angle; 40 hours of not being able to sleep apart from in the back of a car," said Scott when asked what will make the challenge so tough. "Sleep deprivation will be horrendous, then it's your feet and knees - it's going to be a big ask. We have to do it in the tight time slots to make sure we're climbing in daylight on certain mountains.
"We're nervous as much as anything after training for so long," he added.
From sleeping in the back of the car while their designated driver, Reed Nutter, ferries them from mountain to mountain, to making sure their equipment is all in order, the group will each also be carrying up to a stone and a half's-worth in weight along walks which could reach marathon distances.
But at the core of the journey is a motivation to raise funds for causes close to their hearts, and Scott is sure that their charitable motivations will spur them on.
"The hospice is the hospice and Friends of Favourdale do a lot for the residents," he said simply. "It feels like we're doing it for everyone else now too."
To make a contribution to the group’s cause, head to their JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-whitaker5