10 September 2012

My Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

I have a list of Things to do before I’m 25 which is like a bucket list in a sense, except I don’t plan to die at 25. One thing on my list was to walk the Three Peaks, which are essentially a set of three mountains. In the UK there are two types of three peaks: 
  • The National Three Peaks, which involves climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours 
  • The Yorkshire Three Peaks, which involves the three mountains of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in 12 hours 
My friend and I decided to climb them in April 2012, but as we weren't looking for anything strenuous we decided to do it over two days rather than the twelve hour stint. Cheating? I’d argue not...

If you were climbing the mountains in twelve hours you probably didn't need half the stuff we took, but as we had a break and my car in between the two days, we brought endless amounts of food, and overnight things for a stopover at a local B&B. We set off at 6am on the first day, which proved to be a challenge in itself, and made the drive to Ribblehead, North Yorkshire, to meet the bottom of our first Everest of the day, Whernside.

Whernside was okay I'd say. The highest of the three mountains, not that cloudy, and plenty of other walkers on the way therefore making me feel better that I wasn't the only one out of breath. A four hour hike later and we were successful on Whernside. Most of our food supplies already gone we drove to the next mountain and had a break at a local coffee shop. Taking it easy was fine in our books, but didn't feel so great when you saw people running up the mountains, as if the hike was just their morning jog…

After the coffee shop we faced our next battle, Pen-y-ghent, which was supposedly the easiest of the three mountains. It was clearly smaller than our previous mountain but more difficult to climb. Snow surrounded the path (I don’t remember it snowing in months) and on the way down was a literal climb, holding on to rocks. After scrambling down Pen-y-ghent amongst the local inhabitants of sheep, we completed our first day. I’m not that unfit but my legs were killing by this point, so good luck to anyone who attempts all three mountains at once. We then drove to our overnight destination which was in Ribblehead, North Yorkshire. Ribblehead is what I expect from any Yorkshire village, it’s cute, with a few local pubs, a fish and chip shop and a market comprising of two stalls. A true reflection of an English country village.

Day two involved climbing the biggest mountain, Ingleborough. An effort to climb as the mountain is a far walk from the road, so you have to tackle that bit first. Five and a half hours later we were happy to have finished all of the mountains, then at the end on a flat piece of land; I fell and slightly sprained my ankle…

Pain and hobbling aside, we completed the three mountains, which is what we set out to do. We may not have done it in twelve hours, but I still ticked if off my Things to do before I’m 25 list and I’d travelled a part of my own country that I’d never really experienced before. A lot of people I meet through my travels generally ask “where is good to visit in England?” and I always argue that they should visit the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District. Both fairly different places but both have their own charm and offer a varied view of Britain, and what my wonderful country has to offer the average backpacker.

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