- The task: to reach the summit of 10 of the UK and Ireland's most famous volcanic landscapes in less than 72 hours. Armed with Hyundai's All-New Kona SUV, one bold adventurer did precisely that.
Try to imagine the toughest driving challenge in Europe, and you’ll be hard pressed to think of anything more epic than reaching the summit of the UK and Ireland’s 10 most famous volcanic landscapes in under 72 hours. As almost impossible as it sounds, this challenge – dubbed the ‘KONA 10’ – has now been conquered by Hyundai Motor and adventurer Sophie Radcliffe.
With the help of the All-New Kona, Hyundai’s compact SUV, Radcliffe battled through snow and 50mph winds to climb elevations of over 12,000ft and complete the adventure of a lifetime, as well as raise money for the Stand Up To Cancer charity. Hyundai worked with historian Dr Michael Scott to uncover the secrets behind some of the UK and Ireland’s volcanic landscapes, from Snowdon in North Wales to the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, mapping an ambitious route that pushed the endurance boundaries of both the car and the athlete.
Radcliffe drove as far as possible at each location, taking on routes that are normally not accessible to the public and, when the car could go no further, she set out on foot – running, walking, climbing or cycling to the summit. The 72 hours were non-stop, with Radcliffe only able to sleep on ferries and in the back of the car before she hit the next volcanic landscape on the KONA 10 route.
Highlights from the two-day adventure included a stunning sunset on Mount Snowdon, with Radcliffe guiding the four-wheel drive Kona up its miner’s track – not normally accessible to the public to drive on – before taking to her feet to get to the first summit.
Scotland was no less challenging, featuring a scramble up North Berwick Law in the dark, with rain lashing the whale jawbone-topped peak to make conditions even more treacherous. Radcliffe reached the summit of Ben Nevis 52 hours into the challenge with eight locations down, in sub-zero temperatures that went to a bone-chilling -10 degrees Celsius.
The final task was scaling Bla Bheinn mountain at Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, before abseiling down it to complete the challenge just 69.5 hours after the journey began. The Kona travelled a total of 1,046 miles – the equivalent of driving from North Wales to Paris and back again.
Radcliffe is not a professional athlete, but four years ago decided to quit her job in the city and try something new. Today she is driven to consistently push the boundaries as she regularly takes on challenges to run, climb, swim and cycle all over the world. She is the only person in history to have climbed the highest mountains in the eight Alpine countries and cycle between them in just 32 days.
After completing the KONA 10 challenge, she revealed just how tough the task had been: “The toughest moment was the descent of Ben Nevis in the dark. I was feeling exhausted after 10 hours on the move and full winter conditions: snow, wind and freezing temperatures."
Knowing that I had another big climb ahead on the Isle of Skye and would only get three hours sleep was tough, but it’s at times like this that my experience doing challenges over the last few years has taught me how to motivate myself, how to focus on the end goal and just go for it. The incredible views made it all worth it. The moment when the clouds parted to reveal a stunning sunset on the summit of Ben Nevis was once in a lifetime experience.Sophie Radcliffe
Dr Scott selected the ten volcanic locations for The KONA 10 challenge alongside volcanologist Dr Julia Crummy, diving into the history of human activity at each site. His research shows how landscapes formed hundreds of millions of years ago have inspired and provided the location for incredible human achievements over the last several thousand years, standing as true markers of the extraordinary variety and vibrancy of the human spirit.
Starting at Mount Snowdon, the route heads across the sea to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, via a trip to Croghan Hill, termed ‘the navel of Ireland’. It then crosses to Scafell Pike, England’s highest elevation, and then on to Scotland to take in the stunning surroundings of North Berwick Law in East Lothian.
From there it’s on to both Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Glen Coe is next, whose volcanic history dates back 420 million years, before reaching the impressive Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain and Ireland. The route then heads to Ardnamurchan before, finally, the wilds of Skye and the inaccessible Cuillin Ridge, the site of the last clan battle in the Isle of Skye, signal the end.
KONA 10 is going to shine a light on our volcanic heritage – from Snowdon to the Isle of Skye. This never before attempted route across the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland will take people on a journey through a rich and incredible tapestry of human history and achievement - from the ancient past, to the modern day. The KONA 10 is another example of an epic human undertaking achieved through sheer determination and relentless spirit.Dr Scott
Embodying that spirit, Hyundai’s All-New Kona is a compact SUV with a bold, sharp design with full-LED twin headlamps, two-tone roof and the choice of ten distinctive exterior colours. A true SUV with four-wheel drive, the Kona also has a head-up display, a high-end sound system by Krell and complete connectivity that allows passengers to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the seven-inch touchscreen.
1.0 T-GDi (120 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 5.4 – 5.2 l/100 km; urban: 6.3 – 6.0 l/100 km;
extra-urban: 5.0 – 4.7 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 125 - 117 g/km
1.6 T-GDi (177 PS): Fuel consumption combined: 6.7 l/100 km; urban: 8.0 l/100 km;
extra-urban: 6.0 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 153 g/km
* Depending on trim and tyre specifications.