One Long Day…………………

One long day

Three high peaks

Three great causes

One man as inspiration

Aaron Moon – centre – Navy Rugby U23s and Royal Marine

The Royal Navy Rugby Union 24 Hour Three Peaks Challenge

A Doc Cox and Ed Moss-Ward Production

The Cast

Left to right: John White, Will Cairns, Jon Ryder, Mel White, Matt Kitson, Iain Whyte, Ed Moss-Ward, Chris ‘Cinders’ Ellors, Michael ‘Doc’ Cox

Doc Cox (former RN U23 Head Coach) – Director

Ed Moss-Ward – Producer

Cinders Ellor (team mate) – Screenplay and ditmeister

John White (former RN U23 Team Manager) – Musical director

Jon Ryder – Gaffer

Will Cairns (team mate) – Assistant Gaffer and get away driver

Matt Kitson (team mate) – Leading man

Mel White (Sports Therapist RN U23) – Leading Lady

Iain Whyte (former RN U23 Chairman) – Stunt Co-ordinator

Geraint Ashton Jones (former RN DoR) – Photography

Codestorm PLC and Blesma – Wardrobe

Sid Street (HMS Victory) – Refreshment

HMS Collingwood CAF – Transport

Navy Rugby – Budget


The Story so far:

Navy U23 player and Royal Marine suffers multiple injuries following an IED attack on his Viking vehicle.  Career as a rugby player and marine are over, the challenges of rehabilitation are just beginning.  After four years of good progress and proving to be an inspiration to all who meet him Aaron’s plight is the point of discussion for Doc and Ed over a pint.  The outcome of which was to use his story to raise further funds for the charities that have assisted Aaron on his continuing journey back from his injuries.  The plan – to complete the 24 Hour Three Peaks Challenge.  Following a full day’s travel from the south coast the team find themselves in Glen Nevis one Saturday morning ready for the start of ‘The Longest Day”

Act One – Ben Nevis

Cinders leads Doc, Iain, Mel and John at he foot of the Mountain Track, Ben Nevis
Matt and Ed lead the way.

Anticipation over the challenge begins.

The early section is steep.  Heart beat races, calf muscles tighten, conversations ceases.  Second wind is needed.  Only fifteen minute gone.  Oh heck!

Looking back at Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe. The hills in the distance are the training grounds of the original WWII commandos. Iain Whyte striding out.
Iain, Cinders and Ed – half way on Ben Nevis
John and Doc not far behind. Glen Nevis below with Loch Linnie and Loch Eil in the distance.

Aftter the initial shock of the start, a steady rhythm is maintained.  Past the lochan, ever upward.  Banter with early starters on the way down and fellow charity raisers on the way up.  Upper scree slopes getting ever closer.  Views are simply stunning as cloud stays high.

Matt and Ed reach the scree slopes
John nearing the summit plateau with Ian Whyte and Loch Linnie in the back ground
Cinders with an unknown assassin and Loch Eil in the background – I am sure it will form a future dit.

After two and half hours all the team reach the summit.  Tired but satisfied.  The summit plateau is filled with many other ‘3 Peak Challengers’.  It is also the site of the UK’s highest war memorial.

Ben Nevis Summit – One down. Two to go
Britain’s Highest War Memorial
Doc and some of Ben Nevis’ last remaining snow.
Support from Gannet. Fortunately they were not required for real.

The summit is only half way.  The journey off Ben Nevis punishes the legs and though it doesn’t challenge the heart and lungs in the same way it is probably more painful as quads, knees, ankles and toes all take a pounding.

Act Two – Scafell Pike

Stiff and cramped from six hours in the mini bus the team are welcomed to the Lake District’s Scafell Pike with dark skies and short showers of rain.

Lower slopes of Scafell Pike – cloud low, mizzle set in, rocks wet.

Scafell Pike is in the centre of ‘Wainwright Country’ and the great wordsmith provides a fitting tribute when he says:

“Roughness and ruggedness are the necessary attributes to make a mountain and the Pike has these in greater measure than any other high ground in the country – which is just as it should be, for there is no higher ground than this.”

Of course Wainwright was only referring to England but the rocky summit of Scafell Pike in the dark and wet, with tired bodies and legs, is an arduous place to be.

Wet, weary and weathered – team after reaching summit of Scafell Pike

Much of the ascent of Scafell Pike was in low cloud and rain.  The descent was conducted in darkness.  However the cloud was not over the Irish Sea so there was a brief view of the sunset to lift the mood.

Colour from the setting sun finds its way through the gloom
Last of the light – Scafell Pike plunges in to darkness.


Act Three – Snowdon

The gloom of the Lakes is left far behind.  Another long mini bus journey with Cairns Commentary from the wheel brings the team to the last of the peaks.

Early morning sun lights Y Liwedd as the team ascend the Pyg Track
John leads Doc and Ian as Snowdon’s summit is viewed for the first time
Doc, Iain, Mel and John on a wind swept summit of Snowdon.

The team reached the summit in two groups.  First up were Ed, Matt and Cinders who quickly descended to meet up with Aaron.  The later party of Doc, John, Iain, Mel and myself stayed on a cold wind swept summit for the final act.

Final Act – Aaron Moon

The inspiration behind the challenge was former Marine and RN U23 rugby player Aaron Moon.  The fitting end to the challenge was a reunion with Aaron and his partner Donna on Snowdon’s summit.  Still recovering from the most recent of his many operations Aaron and the team went up to Snowdon’s summit cairn for a finale photograph.  For the team it was the best way to ease the pain of the previous twenty four hours and a fitting reminder as to the worthiness of their cause.  Through the work of  Blesma, Rugby for Heroes and RNRMC the future lives of Aaron and many others are being made a little bit easier.  The team faced a twenty four hour challenge.  Through circumstance Aaron faces lifetime of challenge.  The team’s donation page will remain open for a couple of months so it is still not too late to contribute by clicking here.


Final Credits

Though Aaron provided the inspiration many others enabled the challenge to proceed through their generous support.  Doc, Ed and the team were grateful for the support provided by the Royal Navy Rugby Union, Blesma, Codestorm PLC, JSMTC Ballachulish, HMS Victory and HMS Collingwood.


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