AN 81-YEAR-OLD former soldier conquered the mountains of Abergavenny on Saturday during the South Wales Three Peaks Trial.

Ian Waddell said he was recovering well after the hike, which saw him scale Bal Mawr, Pen Cerrich Calch, and Sugar Loaf on the trial’s platinum route.

“It was a great experience, when I sit back and think about it,” Mr Waddell told the Argus this week.

“I got back on Saturday night, went straight to bed and woke up 14 hours later. Then on Sunday I made myself a fry-up.”

The platinum route of the trial covered 17 miles and a 5,000-foot ascent.

Mr Waddell has osteoarthritis and suffers from joint pain. Three years ago he had hip and knee surgery, but said his legs “held up well” during Saturday’s hike.

He left Llanthony at midnight, accompanied by three friends – Ross, David, and Mo – and began marching in the dark towards Bal Mawr.

But it was at daybreak when the size of his challenge dawned on Mr Waddell.

“It was a long, hard slog to Pen Cerrig Calch and I started wondering what the hell I’d got myself into,” he said.

“The ground was extremely rocky, there was no footpath – and then we had to come down the same way.

“The Sugar Loaf was just a little pointy thing in the distance, which was soul-destroying.”

But Mr Waddell said his companions kept him going, telling him he would never forgive himself if he gave up halfway through.

Mr Waddell has previously described himself as “not an armchair person”.

He said he had been inspired to take up the three peaks challenge last year, on his 80th birthday, when he was fed up with being “laid up” watching daytime TV as he recovered from surgery.

Mr Waddell used sticks and crutches for support on Saturday’s hike, and was ably assisted by his three companions, both physically and by keeping him in good spirits. He was also in regular contact with local mountain rescue workers.

“I said ‘never again’ to the guys, but they told me they’d heard me say that before,” he said.

Mr Waddell completed Saturday’s challenge in aid of children’s hospice Ty Hafan. If you would like to donate to his cause, visit