(24.5 miles, 5,100 ft)
Whernside 2,415 ft, (736 ms)
Ingleborough 2,372 ft, (723 ms)
Pen Y Ghent 2,277 ft, (694 ms)
This is the Yorkshire 3 Peaks walk as opposed to the National 3 Peaks walk which is a separate challenge that takes in Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike and is to be completed in 24 hours. The Yorkshire 3 Peaks takes in Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough and the challenge is to complete all three within 12 hours. There is over 5,000 foot of climbing involved and the standard route, which usually starts from Horton in Ribblesdale, involves a walk of 24 miles.
The Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club has been set up by Peter and Joyce Bayes and can be joined if you ‘sign in’ at the antique clock in the Horton cafe and sign out again within the 12 hours. The cafe is presently closed on a Tuesday but even if it is closed you can pop a start card or a return card through the door and the proprietors will do the rest. Once achieved you will receive a certificate and a few pieces of memorabilia (like a mug) for a nominal fee. However increasing numbers of people start from other points on the route Ribblehead or Chapel in the Dale or reverse the normal route by tackling Ingleborough first.
The walk itself is tough, not only is it a long day some of the ground can be wet and marshy and thereby quite energy sapping. This is particularly true in the early stages of the walk when exiting Pen Y Ghent. Some of the paths have been improved but this can make it hard on the feet as generally relaid paths use gritstone or other nearby rocks.
Mugs of the 3 Peaks
We sell hand drawn mugs of the 3 Peaks for £7.90. A great momento for those who have done it or an inspiration for those whao are about to (or like to!).
Click here to see the mug and how to order.
Personal Journey (my first of what turned in to many!)
I have lived within 10 miles of Horton in Ribblesdale for over 10 years but during all that time only ever done the official ‘Three Peaks of Yorkshire’ once. Individually I have been up each of the 3 hills on numerous occasions but the full 24 mile round I only achieved 2 years ago (2008) on an early September day. My work colleague Becky was getting a party together of mixed ability to try and crack the walk within the requisite 12 hours, including an early start at about 7 am. I just sensed that being on the hills for 12 hours at the pace that this was going to entail would drive me crackers so I let her know that I would catch her up at some stage. I ended off setting off with Bracken (my ageing border collie) at about 9.30 having clocked in at the 3 Peaks cafe in the appropriate manner.
Even at this late stage Pen y Ghent was crawling with climbers, many of whom I did not fancy their chances of finishing before darkness was going to fall – however to be fair some may have just been climbing the individual hill. The weather was good for walking, cloudy but clear although their was what is always termed a ‘stiff breeze’ from the west. The final rocky steps to the summit was heaving with folk so I passed straight on over and came to the first navigational consideration – which way down. I ended up following the Pennine Way on the summit plateau before the track dives north west in to the teeth of the wind at the escarpment edge. Various people appeared to be following the Pennine Way so I can only assume that they had a different mission for the day.
The ground here was wet and mucky with the crossing at Hull Pot a particular ordeal but I was travelling fairly rapidly so always felt that I was gaining my group quickly. Crossing on to the Ribble Way improved the under foot and aside from a very short section o the ascent of Ingleborough I did not encounter any more mucky stuff. The miles pass on the Ribble Way and Whernside looked to be getting little closer – this is a long stretch as Pen y Ghent is the peak that is out on a limb, Whernside and Ingleborough being relatively close together.
I was tired at Ribblehead and Whernside, which had now developed a cap of cloud looked thoroughly unappealing. There was no sign of Becky and her cronies and even Bracken looked to have little enthusiasm for the forthcoming hill. However I was on a mission to catch them (I was convinced I would not pass them unnoticed unless either myself or Becky were even worse navigators than we were being told) so I hate a sandwich, opened the mar bar and headed off past the viaduct. Miraculously the crowds seemed to fade away and aside from a group of jabbering students and the odd couple the climb up Whernside was uneventful. The tarn at Greensett Moss always strikes me as the most unlikely place for a tarn and the most unappealing place to visit ne; maybe because I a not a great fan of Whernside. The recently relaid path, although hard on the feet, is a blessing when compared to the squelchy bog on either side. This does give the impression of walking up a stairwell and rather misses the point f the Great Outdoors but in this case I am happy to forgive.
Whernside summit was passed and the steep descent started. I stopped at the foot of Whernside to sink a pint of orange squash from a barn opened by one of the trusty farmers when damn me Becky and Alan appeared. I must have passed them on the descent of Whernside but still it was satisfying to at last catch their group. From then on the walk became more of a social outing which was not a bad thing as the climb up to Ingleborough (particularly the last section) is a steep old haul at he best of times, let alone after 18 miles. The limestone scars on this edge of Ingleborough create the best scenery since the summit slopes of Pen y Ghent but sadly the cloud came in as we panted up towards the trig point to once again deprive us of the view. Ingleborough is my favourite of the 3 Peaks and although the individual walk from Clapham past Gaping Gill is the best way to approach it, I still enjoyed it today.
The enjoyment is of course enhanced by the knowledge that it is down hill from here. Every one of the 5,200ft has been climbed with the long and gradual descent to Horton a real pleasure. The track is astonishingly good, direct ad with no knee clattering steep bits, I have only ever done it the once but I mean to climb Ingleborough from here soon. Horton is eventually reached and the walk is done. I am a little unsure what time I took, my guess is somewhere around the 9 hour mark but it does not really matter. I always ask myself if these long day challenges are worth doing and the answer is always an unequivocal yes, for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks this is undoubtedly true. Aside from anything else the pint always tastes so good!
Update Nov 2015: Now I have climbed the 3 Peaks many many times, usually guiding groups of all sizes, I think I know it as well as most. Most Saturday’s I will be on the fells, encouraging and cajolling increasingly exhausted walkers to one last effort. It is a great challenge , probably the best in Britain for the average walker, and there is some fantastic scenery to appreciate. Ribblehead is a wonderful spot (I try and time the walks to take in a steam train if possible, I succeeded twice this summer), Ingleborough is still one of the best mountains in England and the lovely limestone scenery is for all to see.