As challenge walks go, the circuit of the Yorkshire Three Peaks is challenging! As the name suggests there are three peaks on the route – Pen y Ghent (691 metres), Whernside (728 metres) and Ingleborough 723 metres). Not big hills at a first glance, but they add up to a route of about 40 kms (24½ miles) with about 1500 metres (5000ft) of height gain, the equivalent of a serious day out in the Scottish Highlands. On top of all that, most people set themselves the additional challenge of completing the walk in 12 hours.
Picture by Gerald Davison
For me, the Y3P Challenge is like an old friend (see post #15) – I’ve walked it, run it and even written a guidebook about it. However since moving to North Wales last year, my sights have been on Welsh hills and mountains; I even joined North East Wales Search And Rescue (NEWSAR), and the hills of Yorkshire were forgotten. Until, that is, the secretary of the rescue team asked for volunteers to help with a group he was leading on the Y3P Challenge walk.
So, a pleasant summer morning saw about 30 walkers ready to set off on the Y3P Challenge, with Gerald leading and NEWSAR members Dave, Peter and myself along to assist, and Border Collie ‘Mist’ along to make up the numbers. Starting at 8.00 in the morning from Horton in Ribblesdale, we set our sights on the first peak, Pen y Ghent. This is my favourite on the Challenge Walk, with the route winding through a couple of rock escarpments before reaching the summit. During the week this is usually fairly quiet, but on a ‘Challenge Walk’ weekend you won’t find solitude!
From the summit, the next peak on the list (Whernside) lies far in the distance. For people who don’t walk the hills on a regular basis, the elation of a quick and easy first summit is slowly eroded by a long hike to Ribblehead. The famous Ribblehead Viaduct makes a welcome sight, as most groups take a break here – looming above the viaduct is Whernside.
There are two popular ways up Whernside on the Challenge Route – one is short but brutal, following the runners route straight to the summit. Gerald had opted for the kinder (and more ecologically friendly) way, taking a loop to the north. Although the gradient is easier that way, most of the group were thankful to reach the summit for another short break.
Not long after setting off on the descent, we had a small drama – a member of another group was in trouble, suffering from exhaustion and heat stroke. Our group carried on with the more experienced members leading, as the NEWSAR members gave assistance to the casualty. A helicopter was requested to assist with evacuation and the local rescue team also turned out, so with Gerald, Dave and Peter all busy at the scene, I set off to catch up with our group.
I caught up with the back markers of the group at the last checkpoint near the Hill Inn. The fitter ones including some experienced Y3P members had already set off, so having checked that everyone was still OK for the last peak, we started out for Ingleborough. There’s no doubt that for some this was quite a challenge, and the chance to bail out at the checkpoint must have been very tempting. It was a tired, but elated group that finally made the summit.
Having reached the top of Ingleborough, it was downhill all the way to Horton – it’s a surprisingly long distance, especially for people who have been on the go for a 12-hour hill day, but the ‘finish line’ eventually came into view. The entire group completed the challenge, and in so doing will raise several thousand pounds for charity – a good conclusion to a fantastic day out walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (GD) © Gerald Davison
p.s. Members of NEWSAR are all volunteers, as are all members of UK mountain rescue teams – to can find out more about the team, click here
Ingleborough was my first ever climb, when I was 6 years old – still my favourite!
I’ve lots of good memories of Ingleborough as well 🙂
Wow. That certainly seems quite a trek! Hats off to everyone involved.
A couple of friends and I were planning to do the three peaks challenge a couple of years back, but life got in the way. It’s still on my bucket list though. But I hadn’t heard of this one.
It’s a good day out Lance.
I did this a while ago, I should try it out again sometime. I still have my t-shirt and timecard from the cafe. Well done to everyone.
ha ha! an old friend…I did it last year for charity…and once before that many years ago. I shan’t do it again now – it is really getting very busy! I still think the hardest part is getting past the Hill Inn without stopping in for a ‘quick one’ – always fatal!
Good advice about the Hill Inn 😀
Looks like a beautiful day for it. A well put together photo essay of this popular epic, Paul. I think I might think about that before I hit 70! I guess the date is well advertised?
You would enjoy it Andy. There are a host of organised events over the summer weekends, usually fundraisers for charities, but many walkers do it alone or with a couple of friends. In fact, it’s probably more satisfactory doing it mid-week, when the route isn’t crowded.
Next time you’re out & about (weekends) giz a shout if it’s okay to tag along?
Sounds like a plan – I’ll email if we’re off out at weekends, or I’ll speak to Rich on a training sesh.
BTW, you may have to slow down a bit on the hill – we aren’t as young as you guys you know 😉
Ha! Remember not all of us Boardwells are super human 🙂
Was that recently? I didn’t think it had been warm enough this year for heatstroke?!
What I really want to know though is, whoever took that photo of the final steep section of the ascent of Penyghent’s nose – how did they get it to actually look as steep as it really is? I keep trying and trying to get that effect but haven’t managed it yet. It always looks really tame when I take photos of it! 😦
I must have another go at the 3 peaks though – I’m quite missing it. Just those damn Munros to get out of the way first… I can’t wait to finish now.
It was just over two weeks ago Carol – you have to move quickly to catch those good days 🙂 My daughter and son in law were going to do the Y3P last weekend for his birthday, but the weather was foul. Again!! Walk postponed for now 😦
I took the shot on the escarpment – there are a couple of spots where a pic can be grabbed without getting in the way of people going up. Try leaning out over the edge a bit 😉
Good luck with your Munro-ing this year 🙂
Great write Paul up, love the photos and good to hear everyone made it and raised money for charity into the bargain. It was hot the day we did it a few weeks back (so that’s 2 hot days this year at least then?!) but luckily no dramas.
Thanks for that Mark. With the frequency of our returns to the Y3P it’s only a matter of time before we bump into each other – perhaps literally 😀
A great walk, one of my favourites too, though I have to say I prefer the runner’s line up Whernside – gets it over and done!
Yes, I’m with you on the runners’ line Sam – it’s a bit ‘in yer face’ but it get’s it done quickly. I suppose if everyone did it that way, the erosion would be horrific, but the few who choose the quick route don’t seem to be making too much impact.
Pingback: #147 – Ring out the old … 2013 hill memories | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks
Pingback: #274 – Diary of a project – The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge guidebook (Part 5) | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks