Yorkshire 3 Peaks

“In my opinion this is the finest one day challenge in England bar none”

(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)

Pen y Ghent from Hull Pot

Pen y Ghent from Hull Pot

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.

This is the Yorkshire 3 Peaks walk not the National 3 Peaks walk (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon).

History

Ingleborough summit plateau

Ingleborough summit plateau

The first recorded crossing of the 3 Peaks was in 1887, it took the two friends 10 hours. Since the 1960s the route became increasingly popular with runners and cyclists joining walkers in completing the challenge. The present record is 2 hours 46 minute for the full route (on foot).

In 2009 the Yorkshire 3 Peaks project was set up by the National Park Authority. Contributions and subsidies help preserve the route and a great job has been done by the local rangers in repairing paths. Some re-routing has also been done.

With nearly 100,000 people tackling the challenge in 2018 the issues have moved from the mountains to the village of Horton which has struggled to cope with the numbers. Here are my thoughts on the ‘Horton situation‘.

 

Map of the Route

 

Buy a 3 Peaks Mug

We sell mugs of the 3 Peaks for £7.90. A great memory for those who have done it or an inspiration for those who are about to (or like to!).

Click here to order the mug.

 

Personal Journey (my first of what turned in to many!)

 

Whernside

Whernside

I have lived within 10 miles of Horton in Ribblesdale for over 20 years and have in the last 10 years walked the Yorkshire 3 Peaks many times. However for the first 10 years I only ever completed the challenge once. I had enjoyed individual walks up each mountain but never combined them. I need an incentive to complete my first challenge. I did so in 2008.

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.

Pen y Ghent

Hull Pot on Pen y Ghent

Hull Pot on Pen y Ghent

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. 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 challenge. 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 quickly on my group. Crossing on to the Ribble Way improved the under foot and aside from a very short section on 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 closer albeit slowly. This is a long stretch as Pen y Ghent is the most isolated peak, Whernside and Ingleborough being relatively close together.

Whernside

Bleamoor Sidings on Whernside

Bleamoor Sidings on Whernside

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  so I ate a sandwich, opened the mars bar and headed off past the viaduct. Miraculously the crowds seemed to fade away. 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. It is bleak. 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 is one of the reasons I am no particular fan of Whernside.

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 a local farmer. Bizarrely 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.

Ingleborough

Duck Boards on Ingleborough

Duck Boards on Ingleborough

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 the best of times (let alone after 18 miles). The limestone scar on this side of Ingleborough create the best scenery since the summit slopes of Pen y Ghent. 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 5,400ft has been climbed with the long and gradual descent to Horton a real pleasure. The track is astonishingly good, direct and with no knee clattering steep bits. I have only ever done it this 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 2018

Celebrating on Ingleborough

Celebrating on Ingleborough

Now I have climbed the 3 Peaks many many times, 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 cajoling 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.