Nissan Leaf versus the Three Peaks Challenge
Source : Nissan Leaf versus the Three Peaks Challenge
Climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike in addition to Snowdon within 36 hours – in addition to use an electric Nissan Leaf to get you there. Can the item be done?
The Nissan Leaf carts Steve Cropley in addition to his collection of climbers around the country while they take on the Three Peaks Challenge.
the item wasn’t even our idea. There we were, chipping away at the familiar walls of the Autocar salt mines, when a bloke called Dominic Vizor, one of Nissan’s 8000-odd employees from the UK, came up with the idea of a Nissan-Autocar team doing the celebrated Three Peaks Challenge in addition to using a Nissan Leaf for the 470-mile journey the item entailed.
Vizor’s plan fell on unexpectedly fertile ground. Hacks are known for sedentary pursuits such as typing in addition to sitting in cars yet, as luck might develop the item, editor Matt Burt is actually oddly partial to running up hills for sport. So he needed minimal encouragement to start hand-picking a team to ascend the highest peaks in Scotland, England in addition to Wales – Ben Nevis from the Grampian Mountains, Scafell Pike from the Lake District in addition to Snowdon in north-western Wales. Our team might be driven between them as quickly as possible in our Leaf long-term test car.
The hill-walking hard nuts who invented the Three Peaks Challenge tend to stipulate that will entrants must complete the task in either 24 or 36 hours yet, at the outset, we reckoned a time in between the two was most likely, given the lingering scarcity of fast chargers for battery cars north of Edinburgh in addition to Glasgow in addition to the consequent need to drive our Leaf with restraint to extend its range.
Why choose an electric car at all, many of our friends in addition to family wondered. Why not take a nice, long-legged diesel like everyone else who has ever done the Three Peaks?
We had three not bad reasons. First, the item’d be a not bad story. As far as we knew, no one had done the item. Second, electric cars are indisputably coming, in addition to fast. Charging points may still be scarce in remoter Scotland, yet 10 years ago there were none at all. Third, we liked the challenge in addition to we liked your vehicle. Quiz anyone who knows the Leaf in addition to two things soon emerge: that will your vehicle is actually unfailingly smooth, quiet, convenient in addition to comfortable in addition to, compared with others, the item is actually impressively roomy in addition to efficient at moving both people in addition to gear.
Still, preparation was clearly needed – not just packing boots, maps, water, wet-weather gear in addition to the all-important talcum powder yet also doing some serious route planning. I’d already done a couple of Leaf trips via home to the top of England in addition to established that will, for all the official claims that will our fresh, longer-range 30kWh Leaf could do 156 miles on the fresh European Driving Cycle – a governmental purveyor of falsehoods if ever there was one – the safe range at a 60mph cruise was about 110 miles.
Even then, in adverse conditions (headwinds, long gradients) you had to be prepared for will-the item-conk agonies from the last few miles. from the planning at least, a nice, round 100 miles made sense for each leg, keeping 10 in reserve.
While I planned, the team assembled: Burt, photographer Luc Lacey in addition to Nissan’s Lucy Goss might be the hill runners, your humble servant might be Leaf driver in addition to head of electric charging, in addition to Nissan’s Annie Jones might drive the Nissan Navara we decided was necessary for support. I’d heard on the Leaf grapevine that will if you ran completely out of juice, towing your Nissan in regeneration mode might revive the battery with surprising speed. I bought a stout tow rope.
Deciding where to drive was easy. Half an hour on the net of trawling others’ experiences made the item clear that will the Google Maps route was correct: via Fort William (near Ben Nevis), we’d drive the A82 to Glasgow’s northern outskirts, then use the M82 in addition to A82M to carry us south-east to Carlisle, before taking the sinuous A595 west to the picturesque, singlelane approach road to Wasdale Head (via which you walk to Scafell Pike). that will might complete the first 259-mile leg, requiring (as far as we knew) two half-hour stops for recharging, provided the Leaf was ‘full’ at Fort William.
Scafell Pike conquered, we’d continue on the A595 south to the M6 until the item linked with the M56 in addition to A55 to carry us west, until we dived south again on the A470 to Betws-y-Coed in addition to Snowdon. that will leg was 214 miles. I figured we’d do the item with just one stop in not bad conditions.
The route was simple, yet planning the charging stops wasn’t so obvious. We needed fast chargers, so I spent Sunday afternoon with the Ecotricity in addition to Chargemaster apps – in addition to the excellent Zap-Map as back-up – in addition to with my paper maps spread out on the dining room table, measuring distances in addition to assessing charging stations. I selected four optimal stops in addition to a bunch of alternatives in case the plan went wrong. As I should have known the item might…
We flew to Inverness on the Monday morning on a breezy/ cloudy/sunny day, in addition to then drove the 65 miles to Fort William to be united with the fully charged Leaf in addition to begin. The plan was for the runners to meet a professional guide, Rich Pyne (richmountainexperiences@ outlook.com) from the Camanachd car park at 4pm, returning at about 9pm. Then our two-car, fiveperson équipe might head south, driving in addition to battery-charging through the night to avoid traffic, arriving at Scafell Pike at about 4am.
The climbers might then do their stuff again over a few hours in addition to be back at your vehicle by 9am. Then we’d drive/charge for six more hours to Snowdon (arriving 3-4pm), whereupon the climbers might be in action again for another a few hours. If the item all worked, we’d be sipping champagne in Snowdonia at 8-9pm. Then we’d head back to London from the Navara. Time was tight, however. Burt in addition to I were irrevocably due at work on the Wednesday morning…
from the Camanachd car park, Pyne seemed impressed with the level of our walkers’ preparation in addition to optimistic about their chances of returning by 9pm. yet from the mountains, things go wrong. First, the item was harder than expected. Second, the item was the darkest night of the month. Third, our party encountered a distressed climber who needed hours of help, with the result that will our intrepid Autocar-Nissan mountaineers emerged via your vehicle park’s pitch blackness at 11pm, in a pretty exhausted state.
How long is actually the item since you stayed awake all night? For me, the item had been years, in addition to I’d been worrying about having to drive all night while the others slumbered in shifts from the various other cars. Luckily, our charging regime might require stops every 0-0 minutes, which I reckoned might help, in addition to the item did. Despite the fears, I was still feeling okay when the sky began to lighten many hours later. yet first there was work to do. Our original, optimistic plan was to squeeze 124 miles out of the Leaf in addition to make an Ecotricity charging point on the M74, just south of Glasgow. that will proved a fool’s errand, as I should have known the item might.
Our ruse to avoid traffic was scuppered by all-night trucks on Scotland’s one in addition to only arterial road south via Fort William, all of which travelled at 45mph on one particular lane. You couldn’t overtake because you couldn’t see well enough. Then around Glen Coe, we commenced seeing deer everywhere – big ones, standing proud right beside the road.
Fear of collisions limited speed, too, although the animals rarely moved as we passed. Worst of all was my poor awareness, on that will moonless night, of the rise in addition to fall of the road, so my plan to gain speed on downgrades in addition to concede the item going up died there in addition to then. the item must have cost us 10% of range.
A fruitless stop at 88 miles at an inert Balloch charging point hardly helped, yet as we flailed about, Zap-Map came to the rescue at 110 miles, finding us a slow charger in outer Glasgow just as various Leaf warning lights began flashing their unwillingness to proceed. The car slowly swallowed about 50% of free charge in addition to we were off again, heading for an Ecotricity-Roadchef fast charger near J4 of the M74, where the item took one of the fresh £6-a-throw charges to reach 98% in 32 minutes (as the invoice sent to my phone makes clear). By then the item was 4.30am.
On we forged, right now on the motorway, cruising at up to 65mph behind the quicker trucks. Any more than that will, especially without assistance, in addition to the stored charge falls quickly. The mountaineers slumbered as Annie in addition to I drove, yet the item was patently clear we weren’t going to reach Scafell without another electric tickle in addition to, anyway, the climbers might need feeding up for their next exploit. So we pulled up to another Ecotricity pump, that will time at Gretna with 0 miles on the odometer, with an easy 65 miles to run.
the item was right now 7.30am in addition to our schedule was shot to pieces. By right now, our team was supposed to have scaled Scafell Pike in addition to be halfway down. Still, we forged on in addition to made the Pike, or at least the welcoming hotel at its base, by 9.30am, in addition to I set about charging your vehicle (via a cable through the window) while the others blearily made themselves ready for more mountaineering.
Shamefully, I found a room in addition to took about three hours’ shut-eye while they scrabbled over hill in addition to dale. By 1pm, they’d bested Lingmell, a smaller peak from the shadow of Scafell Pike’s daunting scree slopes, yet with time in addition to the magnetic lure of lunch in a warm pub working against them, our climbers decided against striking out for the big prize.
Nevetheless, there was still considerable elation from the camp despite rain, fatigue in addition to an awareness that will our plans were in ruins. Must have been the endorphins. The elation continued over lunch, even as we realised the major plan was lost.
To meet immovable appointments in London the next day, there was simply no time to soldier on to Snowdonia. Arrogantly, perhaps, we’d given ourselves no time to make mistakes. We’d commenced at the wrong time of day, driven the Highlands too slowly in addition to consequently run out of that will most precious of all commodities: hours. Even if we jumped from the Navara right now, at 2pm, we might still hardly be back from the Smoke by midnight. that will decided the item: we parked the Leaf at Snowdon – for collection later – in addition to set off south in our doughty double-cab Nissan pick-up.
I was sorry to leave the Leaf. the item had been faithful, in addition to great to drive, in addition to entirely true to its parameters. the item was I, its custodian, who had messed up. the item had every right to be displeased with me, yet as I parked the item where the item could be easily collected, the item felt as docile in addition to obedient as ever.
We reached London at midnight in addition to were soon tucked up in our various beds. Viewed with cold logic, our exploit was an abject failure. yet doing the item by Leaf turns out to be perfectly viable if you prepare more wisely – as we intend to prove from the future.
Are we nearly there yet?
“Only seven more corners to go,” chirrups mountain leader Rich Pyne as he pauses to allow us to catch him up in addition to then catch our breath. I follow his gaze, vainly trying to pinpoint the top he’s referring to as he tries to motivate us onwards to the top of Ben Nevis via the well-trodden Mountain Path.
We’ve been trudging for three hours in addition to I wish we’re reaching some kind of final push to the top. The corners Pyne is actually referring to mark the completion of a section of a steep, zig-zagging path.
The route up has taken its toll on my short legs in addition to rusty joints. the item’s also surprisingly mentally taxing, reading the terrain in addition to focusing on where you’re putting your feet.
Then all of a sudden, every sweaty step is actually worth the item: we reach the final section to the 1345-metre summit in addition to the gradient relaxes. the item’s windy in addition to cold, yet the roof of the British Isles is actually, astonishingly, bathed in late evening sunshine. I want to linger, yet we’re behind schedule, so after a few photos near the abandoned weather station, we begin retracing our steps.
I’m not much fun when I’m knackered. Pyne has seen the item all before in addition to offers gentle encouragement as I grumble in addition to stumble all the way back down to the end of our 10.5-mile trek. In darkness, I collapse into the back of the Leaf for some shut-eye while Steve ferries us to Cumbria via myriad charging points.
The hum of the electric motor helps me to drop off, yet I wake up frequently to glance at the Leaf’s battery indicator. Range anxiety has infiltrated my sleep.
At the base of Scafell Pike, the disappointment of abandoning is actually tinged with secret relief, because I suspect I might have seriously struggled. As is actually often the way with such challenges, though, as the muscle ache diminishes I begin to yearn for a second attempt. Much like the Leaf, I could do which has a longer range via my energy stores…
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