A CRUCIAL wrong turning, a mountain rescue emergency call and three injuries were just some of the disasters which struck Team Wayne as they attempted the Three Peaks Challenge.
But despite their errors, the group of friends – who were attempting to climb the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours – have raised nearly £10,000 for Leukaemia And Lymphoma Research in memory of Wayne Wilson.
Wayne, of Cricklade, lost his battle with the illness in January at the age of 26, just months after being diagnosed and weeks after he married childhood sweetheart Sammy Cole.
Since his death, friends Damien Davis, Kevin Giles, Mike Murray, Dave Murray, James Bowyer and brother Carl Wright have formed Team Wayne and organised a number of fundraising events in their home town leading up to the Three Peaks Challenge.
But after taking the wrong turning at the start of their trek, the group ended up climbing the much steeper, but not as high, Stob Ban instead of Ben Nevis.
Damien said: “The climb was a lot harder than we had anticipated.
“We’d been told that Ben Nevis, although the highest, is a fairly easy climb, but that certainly wasn’t the case here, it was like a vertical ascent.
“We had a gut feeling we might have taken a wrong turn, but from ground level those mountains all look about the same height.
“We reached the top, Mike first, and he phoned down to me and said the immortal words, which are still playing through my ears, ‘I hate to break this to you sweetheart, but this ain’t it.’ “We had ended up walking six miles more than we needed – obviously we’d already ‘failed’ the challenge, but decided to persevere.”
And the bad luck continued.
As they began climbing Scafell Pike, Damien suffered a sprained ankle and was forced to pull out, shortly followed by Kevin and James who were suffering with back and ankle injuries.
“Mike and Carl had motored on ahead at a phenomenal pace, they are the youngest and fittest after all, so we all waited back at the minibus and expected them back somewhere between 10pm and 11pm,” said Damien.
“Midnight came and it was properly dark by then.
“We were obviously a bit worried, so we set off with torches and hi-vis jackets back up the bottom of the path to see if we could see them, but there was no sign of them anywhere.”
The worried group called 999 and got through to Mountain Rescue, who took full descriptions of the boys and said they were more than likely lost but safe on the mountain.
It was not until the following day that the whole group was reunited in the village of Boot, in the Lake District.
“The boys got to the top, looked down and spotted lights and headed towards them, but it was the most remote village in the whole of the Lake District,” said Damien.
“We were all so relieved and emotions were now that of happiness and joy – despite our now obvious failure at having not completed the challenge.”
The group abandoned the mission and headed straight back to Cricklade in time for the charity auction and raffle they had organised.
“We joked that the next three peaks we’d attempt would be Common Hill, Blunsdon Hill and ‘Bloomin’ ’ill’,” said Damien.
To donate to the cause, or to find out more, log on to www.teamwayne.co.uk.