Ain’t no mountain high enough: Saffron Walden school friends conquer Three Peaks to raise cash for mental health charities

Three peaks cycle

Three peaks cycle - Credit: Archant

A pair of old school friends from Saffron Walden County High have cycled over 450 miles and scaled over 3,000 metres raising £1,150 for two mental health charities, Mind and OCD Action.

Alex Marley and James Downes, both 23, completed the Three Peaks Duathlon in less than 100 hours, cycling to three of the nation’s highest peaks before going on to climb them.

Alex from Littlebury, told the Reporter: “We both like to keep fit and I have done a few running and cycling events in the past, but I wanted to spend this year doing something different.

“I am a medical student at Leicester and have worked on psychiatric wards, so I have seen the effects that mental health has on people, and now I am at King’s College London studying psychology learning to understand more about it.

“I did some research on hoarding disorders recently and they currently come under the same diagnostic classification as OCD, so OCD Action helps people with the condition.”

The pair finished the trip in four days but their journey was far from smooth. Alex said: “My main concern was my bike. It is two and a half years old, and although I had it fully serviced before we left, by the end of the first day one my back tyre burst. We had to cycle with it for 60 miles to Lancaster where it took two hours to sort it.”

It was not longuntil the bike gave way again, just a few miles into their next leg.

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“The next day we cycled to the Lake District, where my chain snapped. The nearest help was two miles away so that delayed us by an hour.”

Still determined to keep to their time target, the friends cycled over 140 miles in torrential rain to reach Ben Nevis the next day.

“We decided to go for it on the last day,” said Alex. “That was the hardest day because we also did the most climbing; 2,500 metres, and with the weight on our bikes it was pretty tiring. We started cycling at 8am and did not finish until 11pm.”

To donate, visit Three Peaks Duathlon page at