Four of us met up for this weekend to do the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. I’d done the challenge twice before and was delighted to see a weather forecast that seemed to promise bright sunshine.
We got up early on Saturday morning to drive to the start point, Pen y Ghent cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale. We arrived just after it opened at 8:00am but by the time we had a cooked breakfast it was 9:00am before we clocked out using the antique clocking machine.
The challenge is a walk somewhere between 23.5 miles and 27 miles (depending on which guide you read) which involves the three peaks of Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Apart from the three summits the terrain is pretty easy and flat with the exception of a boggy section between Pen y Ghent and Whernside.
We started at a cracking pace and arrived at the summit of Pen y Ghent having overtaken some slower walkers. The summit is very familiar to me as it not only forms part of this challenge, but also is a point on the Pennine Way, one of the most popular long distance walks in the UK. We stopped briefly for a photo opportunity before we set off downhill on a clearly marked path.
After a while the ground levelled out but soon we reached the boggy section which delayed us as we criss crossed trying to avoid sinking to our knees in mud, something that Edosa failed to do! Once the ground firmed up we were able to pick up speed and overtook some more walkers but were overtaken ourselves by some fell runners.
The route joined a road which led us to Ribblehead Viaduct which just so happened to be the location of our bunkhouse. We stopped for 15 minutes, taking on more water whilst Graham decided to change to a new dry pair of socks. We were all still feeling very fresh as we reached the summit of Whernside and still the sun beamed down on us, Graham and I getting sunburn.
We pressed on, eager to keep up the good pace. The route passed The Old School Bunkhouse where I’d stayed the previous August bank holiday with the hiking group. Opposite the bunkhouse was The Old Hill Inn which Edosa wanted to visit to get more water. It turned out to be another 15 minute stop but he finally got the water after making a contribution to the charity collection box.
It was about now that my legs started to feel a little heavy and the summit of Ingleborough seemed so near yet so far. As we reached the flagstones on the final approach to the summit younger fitter walkers finally began to catch me up. They had started an hour before us and whilst we had overtaken them earlier in the day, they were certainly finishing strongly. The final climb to the ridge was very steep but thankfully quite short and finally the trig point was in sight.
The walk back to the start point of the cafe was long but made easier by chatting to a couple of young girls who were students in Newcastle doing the challenge for the first time. Our completion time was 10 hours and 31 minutes. It was a relief to remove the boots for the drive back to our accommodation.
By the time all four of us had showered we were too late to eat at the pub who stopped serving at 8:45pm. I decided to drive to Kirkby Lonsdale where I knew there was an Indian restaurant that opened late. Unfortunately it was closed but we managed to get a table at an Italian restaurant which offered a good menu, good prices and some very attractive waiting staff.
On Sunday tired limbs and a lack of clean hiking clothes prompted us to forego another walk and so we headed back to London early. It had been an enjoyable weekend and I’m hoping the good weather continues.